03 October 2014

Eleanor Roosevelt

Although a lifelong liberal, my father always had a sort of ambivalent, kind of knee-jerk, antipathy towards Eleanor Roosevelt. I assume this came from being raised in West Texas, where she was always regarded as a total pariah. I think the charge of "do-gooder" — with all the negative associations that word connotes — did sometimes apply. But I had forgotten, for example, the important role she played in founding the United Nations, and in creating — and pushing through — the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. I think you could actually make a case that Eleanor Roosevelt was as qualified to be president as her husband was. Of course that simply could not have happened in those days. I thought it was fitting, as they depicted towards the end of the Ken Burns's film, The Roosevelts, an Intimate Portrait, that not only Pres. Kennedy and his vice president Lyndon Johnson, but the only then living former presidents, Eisenhower and Truman, attended her funeral in Hyde Park in 1962. That was not customary for former first ladies. But Eleanor Roosevelt was much more than that.
**Correction. I realized after posting this that Hoover was still alive, though ailing. He died in 1964 (the same year Churchill died; he didn't make the trip either). I reveal my age by pointing out that I remember hearing of both of these deaths on the news.

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