Politics

What Ken Burns' New Film Gets Right—and Wrong—About the Roosevelts

In his latest documentary, Ken Burns examines the tangled lives of Theodore, Franklin, and Eleanor Roosevelt.

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During the first half of the twentieth century, the Roosevelt family rarely strayed far from the commanding heights of American power. Theodore, the pugnacious "Rough Rider" who fought in the Spanish-American War, occupied the White House from 1901 to 1909. His fifth cousin Franklin (who was married to Theodore's niece Eleanor), took TR's strenuous example and ran with it. After serving as assistant secretary of the Navy and governor of New York, FDR would be elected to a remarkable four terms in the White House, holding office from 1933 until his death in 1945, the first and only president to break the two-term tradition established by George Washington.

Between them, Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt ushered in an unprecedented expansion of the U.S. government, erecting the foundations of the modern welfare state while at the same time launching the United States on its career as a global military superpower. Like it or not, we're living in a world they did much to create.

In his new film The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, acclaimed documentarian Ken Burns turns his lens on this fascinating and incomparable family. A sort of triple biography, the seven-part, 14-hour series, which premiers this Sunday night on PBS, follows the tangled lives of Theodore, Franklin, and Eleanor Roosevelt as they take political stage and proceed to shape—and misshape—American history.

"It was not our intention to make a puff piece," Ken Burns told me in an interview this week, "but a complicated, intertwined, integrated narrative about one hell of an American family."

He was partially successful. At its best, The Roosevelts offers a rich, historically grounded portrait of the three Roosevelts and the worlds they inhabited. What's more, unlike many such portraits, this one includes warts and all.

Public Domain

Theodore, for example, comes across as the egomaniacal, warmongering imperialist that he was. Franklin, meanwhile, is shown to be a devious and sometimes even deceitful politician—not to mention a philandering husband to his brilliant and long-suffering wife Eleanor, who quickly emerges as the most inspiring and admirable member of the clan.

And while the film is clearly pro-Roosevelt in its leanings, it does make room for certain contrarian views. Among The Roosevelts' stable of talking heads, for example, is none other than conservative writer George Will, who pops up from time to time to remind viewers that the family's impact was not always a benevolent one. "Building on the work of the first Roosevelt, the second Roosevelt gave us the idea, the shimmering, glittering idea of the heroic presidency. And with it the hope that complex problems would yield to charisma. This," Will declares during one episode, "sets the country up for perpetual disappointment."

But The Roosevelts is by no means a flawless film. For one thing, it sometimes fails to present an accurate picture of the family's political opponents. Indeed, the film leaves the distinct impression that only reactionaries and fringe loonies ever dissented from the New Deal.

Burns himself certainly seemed content to leave me with that impression during our interview. For instance, when I suggested that Al Smith, the Irish-Catholic Tammany Hall veteran and four-term New York governor who started out as an FDR ally and ended up as one of Roosevelt's sharpest critics, might have come to question the New Deal on principled grounds, Burns dismissed the thought. "What often happens with recent immigrant groups, having felt the sting of prejudice, as many Catholics did in the United States, and [Smith] certainly did as a presidential candidate [in 1928], he then became what he despised," Burns said. "He became that narrow-minded, xenophobic, 'real American,' if you will, that saw in Franklin Roosevelt incipient socialism. I think it is a huge everlasting discredit to Al Smith that he would have responded to Franklin Roosevelt's genius with such vituperative overreach."

Smith did attack FDR in vituperative terms. Addressing the Liberty League in January 1936, Smith savaged the New Dealers for what he saw as their betrayal of the Democratic Party. "It is all right with me if they want to disguise themselves as Norman Thomas or Karl Marx, or Lenin, or any of the rest of that bunch," Smith announced, "but what I won't stand for is to let them march under the banner of Jefferson, Jackson, or Cleveland."

But it's wrong to ignore Smith's principled arguments. A committed liberal, Smith not only championed progressive causes like the minimum wage and state support for the destitute; he was also a fierce opponent of the Eighteenth Amendment, which prohibited the sale of alcohol. And as Smith explained in 1933, the ugly lessons of prohibition taught him a thing or two about the dangers of an overreaching central government. The Eighteenth Amendment, Smith wrote, "gave functions to the Federal government which that government could not possibly discharge, and the evils which came from the attempts at enforcement were infinitely worse than those which honest reformers attempted to abolish." In the words of biographer Christopher Finan, Smith "began to believe that the danger of giving new power to the federal government outweighed any good it might do…. He was putting himself on a collision course with the New Deal."

In our interview, Burns told me that his film deals with the "central American question: What is the role of government? What can the citizen expect from their government?" That is indeed a central question, as hotly debated in our own age of foreign wars and economic uncertainties as it was in the ages of Theodore, Franklin, and Eleanor. Viewers cannot help but be struck by the similarities.

But Burns then surprised me when I asked him if his film also contained a cautionary tale about political power.

"I think these are people who utilized power. They didn't abuse it," Burns responded. Besides, he added, "almost everything is a cautionary tale. Eat too much ice cream and it will make you sick. And it's one of the most delicious things on earth."

To be sure, the Roosevelts did accomplish some good things—but they also used their considerable political powers to do some very terrible things. The family's legacy includes not just building national parks and passing public health regulations; it includes helping to launch bloody imperialist wars in Cuba and the Philippines (TR) and ordering the forced internment of thousands of innocent Japanese-Americans during World War II (FDR). Ken Burns may not see a cautionary tale about political power in the actions of this dynasty, but I suspect many of his viewers will reach a different conclusion.

The Roosevelts: An Intimate History premiers on PBS stations November 14-20.

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176 responses to “What Ken Burns' New Film Gets Right—and Wrong—About the Roosevelts

  1. But The Roosevelts is by no means a flawless film. For one thing, it sometimes fails to present an accurate picture of the family’s political opponents. Indeed, the film leaves the distinct impression that only reactionaries and fringe loonies ever dissented from the New Deal.

    Racist, evil Koch bros and teathuglicans also existed in the past? Why do we continue to allow this menace to go on?

  2. I know Alfred E Smith was a Corrupt Tammany Hall governer, I just didn’t realize that he had his limits.

    PS, I used to work in the building named for him – then I got ‘restacked’ to another worksite.

  3. Ken Burns may not see a cautionary tale about political power in the actions of this dynasty, but I suspect many of his viewers will reach a different conclusion.

    this will air PBS, I think your suspicions are misplaced.

    1. And most of those viewers were educated in public schools and were taught FDR = good, New Deal = good, Japanese internment = “a few broken eggs” (if it’s covered at all).

      1. Japanese internment = a horrible crime which somehow never gets traced back to the principal criminal. It just happened because xenophobia.

        At best, they explore the “irony” that even such wonderful people as FDR, Earl Warren and Hugh Black could have signed off on such a bad policy – proving how influential the Right Wing was, that it could corrupt even the purest!

      2. First off, in Ken Burn’s “The War”, he actually devoted more time to the Japanese Internment camps than he did to the Holocaust, which is questionable.

        And, sorry, but it sort of does equate to “a few broken eggs”, even if that expression leaves a lot to be desired. The treatment of the internees wasn’t even comparable to things that were going on around the world during the war, most notably in Germany and Japan. Yes, what happened wasn’t nice, but that wasn’t a period in history where being nice was a priority. And the Americans handled it about as well as could be expected at the time.

  4. Indeed, the film leaves the distinct impression that only reactionaries and fringe loonies ever dissented from the New Deal.

    Eighty years from now, documentaries about Obama will say the same thing about the Unaffordable Care Act.

    1. The US is not likely to exist in 80 years.

      1. Yeah it will. Why do you think it won’t?

        1. It will be replaced by the People’s Replik of North Amerika.

        2. Unless there is a significant change, I suspect the economic collapse will cause a disintegration in line with what was seen in Soviet Russia.

          1. Nah. Not yet. First they’re going to inflate the currency into oblivion. At some point there will be a wealth tax that will loot everyone except the politically connected. And entrepreneurship will be regulated out of existence. But I think it will take more than eighty years. Though I could be wrong.

            1. Here’s hoping you’re right. (In that it will take more than 80 years) I’m not so confident. Didn’t take the Soviets that long, but, of course, they had no capitalist engine to prolong the fall.

              1. I’m not hoping it takes that long. The longer it takes the more unborn children are sold into debt and tax slavery. (Evil x Evil)time= a shit ton of evil

              2. If I remember correctly, didn’t the Soviet economy basically collapse in the 1960s? They managed to sputter along until the 1980s when some of the perestroika money gave them a couple years.

                And the only reason the Soviet Union had money any time was because it was confiscated either during the 1920s or in the 1940s during Lend/Lease and general war booty.

                It may take the USA a bit of time to collapse fully like the Soviets. However, the sheer level of willful ignorance on the part of people like Obama, Warren, Reid, et al., may help exacerbate that fall. At least the USSR guys knew in the ’60s that their economy was toast and tried various (horrible) things to get their economy working. Heck, even Mao opened relations with the US to get money because socialism basically failed right away in China.

            2. Foreign central banks continue suppressing their own currencies by buying up US$ in vain attempts to prop up exports, no collapse. They figure they’re getting shafted and it could unravel lightening fast.

          2. “I suspect the economic collapse will cause a disintegration in line with what was seen in Soviet Russia.”

            Just imagine – we might then have billionaires and resource extraction CEO’s running and financing a lot of our politics…..

            But, wait……oh, yeah, the Koch’s….nah, must just be a coincidence.

            1. What’s wrong with resource extraction and billionaires? You must really hate living in a society where the Malthusian Trap has been extinguished by economic liberty. I mean you bitch about resource extraction while typing on your plastic keyboard to say dumb things on the communications network whose access you commercially subscribe to.

            2. Like southern Maine progressive Congresswoman Chellie Pingree’s billionaire husband Donald Sussman? Who happens to own the newspaper with the largest circulation in Maine.

  5. underplays the family’s abuse of political power

    Their intentions were good. Their hearts were pure.

    What more do you want?

    1. The stains to come out after the horror that was the Lich FDR rampaging through the SoNAR labs. We almost got shut down for that one.

    2. That’s pretty much what the Reason interviewer at the time elicited from Burns on his documentary about national liquor prohib’n: that the well-meaning prohibitionists made some unsavory allies and tragically picked the wrong target, alcohol, instead of the proper one, narcotics.

  6. Ken Burns is a shitty little turd-burglar. Everyone I know who has met him says he is an asshole with way to high of an opinion of himself.

    1. But he makes boring power-point presentations.

  7. Has Eleanor been rehabbed or something? Conservatives in the ’60s pretty much considered her a pinko or outright commie. I don’t remember why exactly but it seems the hatred towards her exceeded that towards FDR.

    1. The hatred towards her exceeded that towards towards her husband because she was perceived as a true believer, while he was taken as a mere ruthless weasel. Much like the Clintons, except it turns out they’re both ruthless weasels.

  8. I think it is a huge everlasting discredit to Al Smith that he would have responded to Franklin Roosevelt’s genius with such vituperative overreach.”

    Gack. Wipe your chin, Kenny.

  9. Ken Burns makes the movies that Ken Burns wants to make. Ken Burns is a motherfucking genious. Ken Burns knows better than to completely bite the hand that feeds him.

    (This would have been funnier if I could have made a Ken Burns joke handle.)

    1. And done it in all caps.

    2. KEN BURNS DOESN’T DO WHAT KEN BURNS DOES FOR KEN BURNS. KEN BURNS DOES WHAT KEN BURNS DOES BECAUSE KEN BURNS IS KEN BURNS.

      1. Who says you can’t do joke handles…

  10. 14 hours of the Roosevelts? I’d rather be water-boarded.

    1. I took a class in undergrad that was nothing but Ken Burns documentaries. His early stuff is actually pretty enjoyable and much shorter. Eventually they just get longer and longer though.

      1. Brooklyn Bridge is really good. I have to say, I enjoy his style of TV documentary. The really long ones are kind of ridiculous, though, I agree. I don’t think I have seen all of any of them. He is such a pretentios prick, though, that he calls himself a “film maker”. You make fucking TV shows, Ken.

        1. He should start cutting his films into thirds and releasing them annually like Lord of the Rings. That’ll show you naysayers! And force several theaters into bankruptcy, but whatever.

        2. Can a series of stills with overblown narration really be called a “film”?

          1. Apparently it can. But I find it obnoxious and pretentious enough when people call movies “films”. It’s even sillier to call TV documentaries that.

            To be fair to burns, the time period of his earlier efforts limited the images to mostly stills (I hate the recent trend of using lots of reenactments in historical documentaries). His stuff on more recent subjects has more moving pictures.

            1. But he zooms in and out of the stills. So it is like a moving picture. Almost.

        3. You make fucking TVslide shows, Ken. Except nobody would want to fuck to them.

  11. To be sure, the Roosevelts did accomplish some good things?

    Not to sure about that.

  12. “And with it the hope that complex problems would yield to charisma. ”

    Right. The only things Roosevelt employed to end the Great Depression and defeat, along with the Soviet Union, European fascism.

    “The family’s legacy includes not just building national parks and passing public health regulations; it includes helping to launch bloody imperialist wars in Cuba and the Philippines (TR) and ordering the forced internment of thousands of innocent Japanese-Americans during World War II ”

    So I should sign on to a reactionary political movement because the government does both good and bad things? What if I just vote for a president that does more of the former and less of the latter. Must I give up Yosemite to oil and gas development because the concentration camp at Guantanamo bay is still open?

    1. Do whatever you want to. Nobody gives a shit.

    2. Roosevelt didn’t end the Great Depression commie kid.

      1. Well… He did die while visiting a mistress – which finally ended the Depression.

        1. We really ought to do some celebrating because Franklin’s demise is the biggest public improvement that America has experienced since the passage of the Bill of Rights.

          -Albert Jay Nock

    3. What if I just vote for a president that does more of the former and less of the latter.

      Perhaps you should contemplate the fact that the perhaps the government shouldn’t have had that power in the first place. You want an all powerful state; you are culpable when it uses that power.

    4. american socialist|9.12.14 @ 11:01AM|#
      “Right. The only things Roosevelt employed to end the Great Depression and defeat, along with the Soviet Union, European fascism.”

      Parasite is incapable of posting without lying.
      Fuck off, commie-kid.

    5. Right. The only things Roosevelt employed to end the Great Depression and defeat, along with the Soviet Union, European fascism.

      You mean a gigantic war machine that your fellow travelers didn’t even want unleashed until Hitler invaded the Soviet Union?

    6. Must I give up Yosemite to oil and gas development because the concentration camp at Guantanamo bay is still open?

      DOWN GOES THE STRAWMAN!!! DOWN GOES THE STRAWMAN!!! The winner, and still champion of strawman bashing, ladies and gentlemen!

    7. “Roosevelt ended the Great Depression.”

      Only if you memory hole this thing called THE 1930’s, which is what they do in government skoolz.

      Leftoids are simpletons who have never even thought to question their statist-collectivist brainwashing, or to notice that they are still parroting their 5th grade teachers 20-50 years later.

      1. But I was taught that without FDR, everybody in the 1930s would have died from capitalism?

        I mean, capitalism caused FDR’s polio so he could not destroy the machinery of the robber barons. But FDR was such a man so imbued with the power of the democratic people’s socialist ideal, he could walk against the capitalist invention of polio and save the people.

  13. “I think these are people who utilized power. They didn’t abuse it,” Burns responded.

    “Pay no attention to those internment camps.”

    1. For fuck’s sake, for the camps alone the asshole should be remembered as a monster.

      1. Add to it the way FDR treated Haiti.

      2. And yet slavery and discrimination are “states rights”?

        Wow…..

        1. craiginmass|9.12.14 @ 4:33PM|#
          “And yet slavery and discrimination are “states rights”?”

          Strangely enough, you lying piece of shit, no one here has ever supported slavery.
          Do you ever post without lying?

        2. Slavery and discrimination were primarily practiced in Democratic states. That’s why the Democrats voted against passage of the 13th and 14th Amendment and turned waterhoses and dogs on protestors in the ’60s.

          So fuck off, Masshole slaver.

        3. Let’s play logical fallacy!

      3. Ha, are you kidding me? The Japanese interment camps have been blown way out of proportion recently. Italians and Germans were also interned, but you don’t hear anything about it. Why? Because of perspective. If you look at what was going on in other parts of the world, most notably with the concentration camps and the Holocaust, the Japanese internment was of very little consequence.

        Nobody was deliberately killed and they were treated very, very well in comparison. Really, it’s an insult that anyone even complains about it anymore.

    2. You know who else was against putting Japanese people in internment camps?

      1. The Koch Bros?

        1. I think they were building oil infrastructure for Uncle Joe at the time so may have not been involved…

        1. Everyone here but you?

          I loled. Too true.

      2. Wrong, wrong, and wrong. J Edgar hoover

        1. american socialist|9.12.14 @ 11:40AM|#
          “Wrong, wrong, and wrong. J Edgar hoover”

          Oh, uh, well, look there…
          Some inanity instead of a lie, so we’ll give him that.

        2. And Dr. Seuss and that great civil libertarian Earl Warren were all for it. That should cause some serious cognitive dissonance on the part of the left.

          1. Seamus|9.12.14 @ 3:49PM|#
            “And Dr. Seuss and that great civil libertarian Earl Warren were all for it. That should cause some serious cognitive dissonance on the part of the left.”

            You presume parasites like commie-kid have some sort of ethical framework.
            Outside of gt the ‘government to steal for me’, they have none.

      3. Japanese people ?

  14. “It was not our intention to make a puff piece,”

    Gee, Ken. Why would you stop now?

    Hack.

  15. … European fascism *was charisma*

    1. I saw the work “charisma” and my mind immediately went to Carpenter. What were we talking about again?

      1. word*

    2. …was very popular with Progressives until the inconvenient facts about the death camps were revealed.

    3. … European fascism *was charisma*

      And you don’t see any parallels between FDR and Mussolini?

      1. Well, the evil clouds of capitalism found its way into their brains and that’s why they did some bad things. Mussolini was only a fascist though, so couldn’t fight the wandering evil of capital though, so he allied with Hitler, the ultimate Kapitalist.

        FDR, however, saw the errors of his temporary capitalist brainwashing when he interred Japanese folks and said “avast! Capitalism has made me go mad!” He then promptly forgot about it as he was busy saving the working peoples of the world. For the greater good and all.

  16. After being harangued by friends about not watching the cinematic genius which was Burns’ Civil War show, I relented and watched an episode. I reported back that it was like listening to people read bumper stickers for two hours, which was not well received.

    If Burns is a genius, we’re farther down the road to Hell than I thought.

    1. I liked it well enough. You must run into a lot more long winded bumper stickers than I do. But he’s no genius. He came up with a good formula for TV documentaries and stuck with it and that’s really it.

  17. When I see Ken Burns in that video, or even hear his voice in the quotes in this article, all I think is, what an arrogant prick.

    1. Yeah, but only because he doesn’t agree with you. If his name was Nick Gillespie you’d probably celebrate him -especially if he put you on the payroll.

      1. craiginmass|9.12.14 @ 4:34PM|#
        “Yeah, but only because he doesn’t agree with you. If his name was Nick Gillespie you’d probably celebrate him -especially if he put you on the payroll.”

        I doubt that made sense to even craig the lying asshole.

      2. What of his name was still Ken Burns but he put me on the payroll? Should I celebrate? Still think he’s a progressive hack? Push?

  18. Something libertarians don’t understand is that political power is not an incentive. People who seek power are altruists, looking out only for the good of others. They never seek political power to enrich themselves. No. That’s because political power is a force for good.

    Unlike money. You see, money is yucky, and people who seek it are not to be trusted. Unlike those who wield coercion and force to accomplish their goals, those who seek to enrich themselves by providing goods, services and jobs for society are evil. Unlike politicians who use violence to make society more equally poor, capitalists use voluntary cooperation to make society unequally rich. And as we all know, inequality is bad.

    These Roosevelts should be hailed as heroes. While they didn’t obliterate capitalism, they set the stage so it can be eradicated at some point. Some day when we’re all equally poor, with no capitalists to envy, we can look back and thank the Roosevelt family.

    1. God willing, we can liberate the proles from worrying about material comforts – such as toilet paper – like those progressive heroes in Venezuela.

      1. Venezuela is different. They don’t have the right people in charge. We do.

    2. “You see, money is yucky, and people who seek it are not to be trusted.”

      Ridiculous. LOL

      1. american socialist|9.12.14 @ 12:05PM|#
        “”You see, money is yucky, and people who seek it are not to be trusted.”
        Ridiculous. LOL”

        Of course!
        If it wasn’t for other people’s money, you wouldn’t have any to steal.

    3. sarcasmic|9.12.14 @ 11:21AM|#
      “Something libertarians don’t understand is that political power is not an incentive. People who seek power are altruists, looking out only for the good of others.”

      You’re right, that’s a failure of mine.

    4. Also, the Roosevelts were born into large amounts of wealth and power, so they never NEEDED to become evuhl kapitalists.

      See, like all good socialists, they were born into upper classes with large amounts of wealth who were concerned about their personal servants’ welfare.

  19. Did the piece cover FDR’s criminal negligence in his refusal to include Truman in the war plans and conferences?

    1. Try treasonous negligence. Methinks the secrecy was in order to facilitate better collaboration with FDR’s comrades in the USSR and it allowed him to speak more frankly about his antipathy towards human freedom with his staunchly communist advisers.

    2. It would have been harder to sell Eastern Europe into communist slavery with too many dissenting views advising and potentially opposing him.

      1. Free Society|9.12.14 @ 1:17PM|#
        “It would have been harder to sell Eastern Europe into communist slavery with too many dissenting views advising and potentially opposing him.”

        Not the point and I doubt Truman would have acted as any sort of brake on FDR anyhow; he was a fanboi.
        The negligence was excluding Truman from the various agreements and meetings which formed the direction of the biggest conflict in human history.
        He knew when he was campaigning for ‘king’ he didn’t have long to live; any decent ‘leader’ would have made sure his replacement knew WIH was going on. FDR didn’t. he seemed intent on proving he was the indispensable man by sabotaging any effort after he died.

      2. BTW, we *can* thank some of FDR’s advisors, since that tired old fart was long past making any decisions; we almost got Wallace instead of Truman!
        Wallace’s action while people were starving (not him):
        “Making one of the most difficult decisions of his life, Wallace ordered the destruction of six million hogs and 10 million acres of cotton in an effort to bring the surpluses down.”
        http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h1754.html

        1. I never said he would’ve acted as a brake. But he was a far cry from the openly pro-soviet advisers FDR surrounded himself with. Truman for his part was a murderer and a plunderer, but he may have seen the strategic error of yielding vast swathes of territory to a state that was in no position to dictate terms to the United States and it’s new atomic weapons.

          1. Free Society|9.12.14 @ 10:41PM|#
            I never said he would’ve acted as a brake. But he was a far cry from the openly pro-soviet advisers FDR surrounded himself with.”
            Cite?
            ——–
            “Truman for his part was a murderer and a plunderer,”
            Cite?
            ———
            “but he may have seen the strategic error of yielding vast swathes of territory to a state that was in no position to dictate terms to the United States and it’s new atomic weapons.”
            Man, I hate to agree with commie-kid, but you are presuming the US would nuke what, exactly, to prevent what, exactly and when, exactly?
            Try “Post War” (Judt), “World at Arms” (Weinberg), “Heisenberg’s War” (Power) for starters. Having such a weapon is one thing; using it in practice or as a credible threat is another entirely, for which the world can be grateful.

      3. Yeah we should have killed ten million people or so in a nuclear war with our ally who helped us destroy Adolf hitler’s regime. Roll onto the Volga, General Patton! I just have to wonder how many of the GIs would have defected if some right-wing maniac was in power in the WH and told the soldiers that they need to now defeat an allied country that largely defeated on its own the government that had created dachau and aushwitz. I certainly would have told the commanding officer to go fuck himself if given that mission.

        As for your ridiculous assertions that Roosevelt’s advisors were commie stooges that’s pretty much the tack that libertarian hero, Joseph McCarthy took. Many of Roosevelt’s advisors went on to do things like formulate the Marshall plan and the Berlin airlift, but yeah they probably did this because they were getting paid off by Josef Stalin. Uncle Joe worked in mysterious ways.

        1. american socialist|9.12.14 @ 11:36PM|#
          “I just have to wonder how many of the GIs would have defected if some right-wing maniac was in power in the WH and told the soldiers that they need to now defeat an allied country that largely defeated on its own the government that had created dachau and aushwitz. I certainly would have told the commanding officer to go fuck himself if given that mission.”

          WIH are you ranting about, commie-kid? Are you sorry your fave murderer didn’t get more support?
          Oh, and I luv the innertubze HERO telling us what he would have done!
          Fuck you, tuff gai.
          —————-
          ” Many of Roosevelt’s advisors went on to do things like formulate the Marshall plan and the Berlin airlift,”

          Yeah, and many went on to seep floors or get tossed, as did Wallace, but to ignoramuses, claiming some great things for people who once knew a POS is enough to make them happy! Right, happt ignoramus?
          ———————
          “that’s pretty much the tack that libertarian hero, Joseph McCarthy took”

          Shitstain, can you post without lying?

          1. “Fuck you, tuff gai.”

            You’re the military guy, Colonel Klink. How much money did leeches like you take from the taxpayer while protecting us from commies?

            “Wallace”

            You mean the guy who opposed massive military spending, the Cold War, and racial segregation. Yeah, he’s an evil genius.

            1. american socialist|9.13.14 @ 12:59AM|#
              “Fuck you, tuff gai.”
              You’re the military guy, Colonel Klink. How much money did leeches like you take from the taxpayer while protecting us from commies?”

              Wrong, shitstain; was ‘military’ only as long as it took to get out of it.
              So, tuff gai, how much money have you leached outside of your mortgage? I’m betting you’re a pretty constant parasite. Do I have it, shitstain? So, yeah, fuck you, tuff gai.
              ————-

            2. And more, asshole:
              “Wallace”
              You mean the guy who opposed massive military spending, the Cold War, and racial segregation. Yeah, he’s an evil genius.”

              Yeah, shitstain:
              “Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick produced a multipart Showtime series and large book […] If only Wallace, and not Harry Truman, had succeeded FDR, the world would have been a better and more peaceful place. Conservative (Ronald Radosh) and liberal (Sean Wilentz) historians have skewered Stone and Kuznick’s tenuous grasp of history.
              […]
              “Thomas Devine exposes Wallace as a willing tool of the American Communist party (CPUSA). More than that, however, Devine has provided a blistering examination of the mindset of the Stone-Kuznick Popular Front liberalism that believed in an alliance with Communists and persisted in blaming the Cold War on the United States in the face of abundant evidence to the contrary. ”
              http://www.weeklystandard.com/…..29033.html
              You mean the guy who would have introduced mass murder to the US, shitstain? That guy, you slimy piece of shit?

            3. And, for your pleasure, you pathetic excuse for a human being, how about that oh, so right wing Time Magazine?

              “Henry Wallace – America’s Worst Vice Presidents – TIME”
              […]
              “A colleague once described Henry Wallace as “a person answering calls the rest of us don’t hear.”
              http://content.time.com/time/s…..17,00.html

              Just what we needed; a dim-bulb probably even more stupid than you as prez!
              Fuck off, commie-kid; you been busted.

            4. And once more, shitstain, did you see this?

              “Making one of the most difficult decisions of his life, Wallace ordered the destruction of six million hogs and 10 million acres of cotton in an effort to bring the surpluses down.”
              http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h1754.html

              In order to raise prices when (other) people were starving, he reduced the availability of food. What a raging, pathetic piece of crap. Now, commie-kid, tell us how great Wallace was since he only tried to starve thousands instead of the millions your fave mass murderer did.
              And how about a rousing cheer for that POS FDR and the Japanese concentration camps? I’m sure you can come up with some slimy excuse; you’re good at it!

              1. I’d just say that 3 posts concerning the opinions of right-wing conspiracy theorists doesn’t make it more compelling than if all that knashing of teeth were compiled in one post. But, hey, you’re the Randian. Thus, it’s so you.

                1. Time magazine is a right-wing conspiracy theory rag? Are you kidding me?

                  But I guess you don’t have an answer so you will take the typical old school liberal approach to dismissing the argument as tin foil hat.

                  Is that how you justified walking out on the mortgage? Banks are right-wing conspiracy theorists…and Tim foil hat so there, I’m done paying them.

                  1. “Right wing conspiracy” – ad absurdum.

                    Isn’t it strange how empirical facts often become “wingnut conspiracy theories” when they disagree with an opinion?

                    Kind of reminds me of whole Trotsky/Stalin debate among non-Russian intellectuals. If Trotsky had gotten the job, socialism would have succeeded because Stalin was a capitalist.

                    Nevermind that Trotsky’s main difference with Stalin was…that he wanted to invade a bunch of countries right away and then industrialize. And keep perpetual warfare (permanent revolution) in order to make communism succeed. Trotsky’s theories were even worse than what Stalin actually did.

                    Egh. The level of cognitive dissonance among true socialists is pretty…oh, what’s the word…atrocious?

                2. …all that knashing of teeth…

                  You mean gnashing? Is American English your native language?

    1. Didn’t you carry the fight to Iraqi nationalists once? Really, thank you for your service. It’s guys like you that protect the rest of us.

      1. Does this mean you’ll be signing up to fly MQ-9s sometime soon?

        1. Uh, no. I didn’t have a beef with saddam Hussein unlike some libertarians, who now have found their pacifist roots now that a Democrat is in power.

          1. You are a fucking idiot who is not only clueless about the military, but libertarianism as well.

            Libertarians are not pacifists moron. And the military does not get to choose the battles they fight.

            Fucking retard.

            1. I know enough about the military to know that I would not join it and I know enough about the rotten to the core economic system that I would never fight to maintain the nation as an intact entity.

              I’m sympathetic to the notion that a government’s activity should be curtailed–especially when it is engaged in an unjust war. Thus, my libertarian heroes in the Iraq war were those that refused to deploy. You bitch and moan about the extent of government and call me an autocrat when I say the the wealthiest 5% of the people should pay a boat load more in taxes, but yet get paid by the government to fight in a bullshit war. My question for you is if you hate the government so much why join the mercenaries in the American armed forces in the first place.

              Too chickenshit to follow through on your convictions? Not that I would have been caught in your shoes, but I’d rather rot in a prison than shoot up Iraqis.

              1. Don’t worry asshole, if you ever get the government you ask for, there’s a better than average chance you’ll get your wish of rotting in prison.

                The military is a legitimate function of government. It is civilian leadership and the voter that decides how it’s used. So, I blame you for having to go.

                So, please, feel free to do something about it that will cause you to rot in prison. Show me your convictions, shitpile.

              2. american socialist|9.12.14 @ 4:34PM|#
                …”I know enough about the rotten to the core economic system that I would never fight to maintain the nation as an intact entity.”…

                Not quite shitstain; we haven’t let you turn it into that yet.
                BTW, I’m not sure slimy parasites are welcome.

                1. “Not quite shitstain; we haven’t let you turn it into that yet.”

                  God, another ex-military that belongs to a far right political cult. How many tim mcveigh wannabes are out there anyway?

                  1. american socialist|9.12.14 @ 6:49PM|#
                    “God, another ex-military that belongs to a far right political cult. How many tim mcveigh wannabes are out there anyway?”

                    God, another shitstain lefty who is clueless.
                    Sorry, your reading comprehension is just as expected; 1st grade level.
                    Fuck off, commie-kid.

                  2. Socialism is slavery. All I want is no agression toward me. Nor fraud. You live and breathe both.

                  3. “How many Tim McVeigh wannabes are out there anyway?”

                    Enough that your woman will never be lonely any time she wants to upgrade from you.

                    1. Ick, gross. Is this more antinominalism from libertarians. That shit is the worst. No one cares if you went to burning man, asshole

                    2. american socialist|9.12.14 @ 11:40PM|#
                      “Ick, gross. Is this more antinominalism from libertarians. That shit is the worst. No one cares if you went to burning man, asshole”

                      Uh, right.
                      I’m sure your mom said that meant something and you are such a good little boy to use such BIG WORDS!
                      But it helps if you use them where they have meaning, so you’ve once again proved to be an ignoramus.
                      Fuck off, commie-kid.

              3. Taxes are part of an unjust war against (productive) people. You don’t seem to have a problem with that.

            2. Francisco – Can we just transfer the level of dissonance + strawmanning and create a new fallacy?

              Commumanning? Airmanning?

              Because even straw has substance. Marxian dialectic/discourse is basically hot air.

      2. Is there a point to your inane babbling?

  20. Ken Burns is simply another liberal making money off biased and inaccurate historical documents. The Roosevelts were nothing more than Socialist aristrocrats who began the decline of our Constitutional Republic and the sheeple went right along with them. They set the stage for an Obama who was groomed to put the final nail in our coffin.

  21. Indeed, the film leaves the distinct impression that only reactionaries and fringe loonies ever dissented from the New Deal.

    To Burns’ credit, FDR’s enemies might have been better served had they not run on the Reactionary and Fringe Loony tickets.

  22. If you don’t mention that Teddy and FDR were craven Progressives bent on implementing an authoritarian government, then your documentary is inaccurate.

    1. And like socialists up until, well now I guess, they were also horrific racists who didn’t see a problem with eugenics or performing experiments on non-WASPS.

      (Remember: socialists don’t really value diversity of culture/ethnicity. That’s just a tool to use for revolution until capitalism is overthrown.

      Communist society is completely antithetical to “multiculturalism” as it is the definition of monoculture.

      So every time I hear a socialist say “oppressed non-whites/women” I hear “I’m lying”.)

  23. In our interview, Burns told me that his film deals with the “central American question: What is the role of government?

    I have the nagging suspicion that the whole theme of the documentary is precisely that and not the lives and tribulations of the Roosevelt family.

    1. In 14 hours he’ll probably have to pad it out with some biographical stuff.

  24. “I think these are people who utilized power. They didn’t abuse it,” Burns responded.

    I would be surprised at the nonchalant nature of that response, because it imprints in my mind a terrifying picture of what ‘abuse of power’ would have to look like so Ken Burns concedes there was abuse of power.

    1. Apparently, so long as their are no death camps, it’s not an abuse of power. Concentration camps are OK with Ken, so long as the right people are in charge to ensure the right people get locked up.

    2. The easiest way to tell who abused power and who was a heroic lion of the state is to see who won the war.

    3. I don’t think the nuclear incineration of Japanese men, women and children qualifies as an abuse of power. I mean if you have a nuke, it’s not abusive to burn babies alive right?

      1. According to the Fiction Writer, the more civilized and intelligent man can steal the land and resources from the lesser.

        It’s no joke to say the Fiction Writer would have supported Japan’s action in China…after all, they were not “civilized” or developed and the Japanese were!

        “Any white person who brought the element of civilization had the right to take over this continent.”

        Not much to debate there. If you have the bomb or anything else, you have the right to claim superior civilization and use it against anyone whose property or economy you wish to usurp.

        1. craiginmass|9.12.14 @ 4:39PM|#
          “According to the Fiction Writer, the more civilized and intelligent man can steal the land and resources from the lesser.”

          The fiction writer? TR?

          1. Don’t be coy. You know exactly what Heinlein said.

          2. Ayn Rand, you know…the fiction writer that all good “libertarian” pols credit with their wisdom. The same one Rand is named after.

            Yes, her. She believes in genocide.

            1. Rand Paul is not named after Ayn Rand.

              1. I don’t know how you can say that. When I see the name Randal Paul, my natural reaction is to think of the Soviet Jew Alisa Rosenbaum.

                Doesn’t help matters that Paul’s middle name is Zinov’yevna or that his parents are die-hard atheists devoted to reason and Rachmaninoff (though not necessarily in that order).

              2. Yeah. just a coincidence cause daddy said so?

                It’s such a popular name, after all.

                Oh, while we are at it – which part is Daddy Paul playing in the Atlas Shrugged new movie?

                1. craiginmass|9.12.14 @ 7:48PM|#
                  “Oh, while we are at it – which part is Daddy Paul playing in the Atlas Shrugged new movie?”

                  Uh, did your mom think that was clever?

                2. As difficult as it is to believe, Craig is right on this point, and we’re wrong.

                  State records indicate that no Texan was ever named Randal prior to 1963, at which point noted conspirator of language Carol Paul touched off a national nominative epidemic by naming her son Randal as a dog whistle to her fellow Objectivists who hide in plain sight amongst us.

                  Within months of Carol Paul’s shocking decision, legions of crypto-Randians occupying trailer parks and panel vans all across the nation had christened their child “Randal.”

                  Thus the origin of the old saying “scratch a Randal, find a devotee to reason, Nietzsche, and Aristotle.”

            2. craiginmass|9.12.14 @ 7:03PM|#
              “Ayn Rand, you know…the fiction writer that all good “libertarian” pols credit with their wisdom. The same one Rand is named after.
              Yes, her. She believes in genocide.”

              Naah. craig, the lying asshole! Yes, him! The guy who posted all day and got one post with only one lie in it!
              “There is no principle by which genocide?a crime against a group of men?can be regarded as morally different from (or worse than) a crime against an individual: the difference is only quantitative, not moral. It can be easily demonstrated that Communism means and requires the extermination?the genocide, if you wish?of a particular human species: the men of ability.”
              http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/genocide.html

        2. craiginmass|9.12.14 @ 4:39PM|#

          According to the Fiction Writer, the more civilized and intelligent man can steal the land and resources from the lesser.

          How does one “steal” land from peoples who don’t think that the land can be owned – or from a bunch of commies who think “all property is theft”?

      2. I mean if you have a nuke, it’s not abusive to burn babies alive right?

        Or maybe people who don’t want their babies burned alive or otherwise killed shouldn’t start wars? At the very least perhaps they shouldn’t invade other countries and throw those peoples’s babies into the air to be caught on bayonets?

  25. “Building on the work of the first Roosevelt, the second Roosevelt gave us the idea, the shimmering, glittering idea of the heroic presidency. And with it the hope that complex problems would yield to charisma. This,” Will declares during one episode, “sets the country up for perpetual disappointment.”

    No, George, it set the country up for tyranny. Very effectively.

  26. urns deserves *some* credit for the Civil War. That’s where I learned about Sedgewick.

    “Don’t worry, boys. They couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance.”

    1. It was all Virginia Front, Grant, Sherman, Virginia Front, then some more Grant…not that I’m complaining.

  27. Another success story:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A…..t_Virginia

    I wonder if this will be mentioned…?

    1. while Democratic members of Congress opposed government competition with private enterprise

      Wow, like that was sooooo long ago.

  28. ~~Damon…your tag for the article – “The Roosevelts: An Intimate History premiers on PBS stations November 14-20.” Should read “September”.

    1. So I won’t have to wait two months to ignore it.

  29. wait, what is the documentary about?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JXOVfJ-RpQc

  30. Ken Burns’s Civil War series was quite good. I couldn’t get through any other series he did. This one sounds boring (I’m not one for following the antics of “great” families).

  31. my roomate’s mother-in-law makes $63 hourly on the computer . She has been fired for 8 months but last month her pay check was $19232 just working on the computer for a few hours. see here now…..

    ???????? http://www.netjob70.com

  32. my friend’s sister makes $83 an hour on the laptop . She has been fired for ten months but last month her payment was $12435 just working on the laptop for a few hours
    Find Out More. ?????? http://2.gp/EvZq

    1. Don’t tell the FDR progs, they’ll take it for the “public good.”

      1. And if she is of Japanese descent, he will ship her off to an internment camp.

  33. Yes, passing public health and starting to integrate the military, etc.
    bad bad bad….

    To bad for “reason”able people both Roosevelts will continue to rank in the top few Presidents. Of course, this offshoot of the John Birch Society isn’t about to accept that! And so it will always be.

    1. craiginmass|9.12.14 @ 4:29PM|#
      “Yes, passing public health and starting to integrate the military, etc.
      bad bad bad….”

      Neither of which FDR did, lying asshole

      1. Actually, FDR did issue executive orders that allowed blacks to apply for skilled trades in the Navy. It took Harry Truman to actually integrate the Army.

        In my father’s pre-war navy blacks were stewards or messboys on board ships and menial labor loading and unloading ships at shore stations.

        OTOH, FDR’s order pretty much only established the same order that existed in the much less technically sophisticated pre Woodrow Wilson where blacks did indeed serve as equals in the ranks, though the Officer Corps was closed to them.

        1. So you’re saying it wasn’t an order-order, just some piece of political grand-standing?
          No wonder it’s been lost except to lefties trying to keep FDR from being treated honestly.

      2. Obvious, Sevo, that you don’t read much.

        Deseg in the armed forces didn’t happen in one day when Truman signed something.

        ” On June 25, 1941, Roosevelt issued Executive Order 8802; the elimination of racial discrimination from federal departments, agencies, the military, and from private defense contractors. ”

        My goodness, you should take more time to read books rather than sliming around on comment boards.

        The only reason I won’t watch Burns show is that I have read 10,000+ pages on both these dudes….and most of our top Presidents.

        What you need to do is petition Bill O’Reilly or the Kochs to commission alternative history.

        1. craiginmass|9.12.14 @ 7:07PM|#
          “Obvious, Sevo, that you don’t read much.
          Deseg in the armed forces didn’t happen in one day when Truman signed something.
          ” On June 25, 1941, Roosevelt issued Executive Order 8802; the elimination of racial discrimination from federal departments, agencies, the military, and from private defense contractors. ”

          My goodness! Strange nothing was ever done about it in either theater of WWII outside of several black rifle companies and the Tuskegee pilots.
          So you managed a post with only one lie; I’m sure you’re proud of yourself.

    2. So the public had no health before FDR passed it? Did everyone have scurvy? Or AIDS? Diabeetus?

  34. He used Doris Kearns Goodwin and Mike Barnicle in Baseball. Both are diehard liberals and both are plagiarists. Using known plagiarists really clouds the integrity of the product. Wonder if Jayson Blair contributed to this newest effort…

  35. Does he mention FDR banning the private ownership of gold?

    1. Does he mention that in addition to banning private ownership of gold, FDR also forced everyone to turn their gold in at the official price of $20 per ounce and afterwards set the official price at $35 per ounce – effectively robbing Americans of nearly half their money? No, I didn’t think so.

  36. Actually, FDR failed in many of his attempts to institute national health insurance…because the same forces (those of conservatives) aligned against him.

    However, he tried a number of time and started the conversation which slowly became medicare, medicaid, schip, romneycare and then the ACA.

    As to the state of public health, dig around in your family history (assuming they were here) and ask how many died from whopping cough and flu. Approx. 700,000 Americans died from the flu in the 1918 pandemic. That would be the equiv. of over 2 million dying today….]]

    1. All of my ancestors died of the Spanish flu. Every last one of them.

      Please stop trying to attribute advances in health to government policy.

      About 400,000 Americans die each year due to obesity related causes. Some of those folks are getting money from the govt to buy their sodas, burgers, fries and chips. Some of those products are subsidized by farm bill $$. And we can blame the New Deal for laying the groundwork for that. So really, there should be red ink in the ledger.

  37. Ken Burns says Teddy R couldn’t get elected today. Au contraire: we seem to keep re-electing him over and over. Every time we send a bunch of our guys to die in some hellhole in a pointless effort to “Americanize them,” we are following in Teddy’s footsteps…

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