‘Plots Against the President’ by Sally Denton — The Boston Globe

By Kate Tuttle  |  January 18, 2012   — The Boston Globe

Voters in the 1932 presidential election, shell-shocked by economic disaster, were “fed up with Washington, with government, and with both parties,’’ writes Sally Denton. “The way most people feel, they would like to vote against all of them if possible,’’ humorist Will Rogers said. Democratic candidate Franklin D. Roosevelt offered a change, but, as Denton writes, before he took office “it was difficult to get a fix on Roosevelt’s platform for the presidency.’’ Just in case the parallels to Barack Obama’s 2008 victory weren’t clear enough, she adds that FDR’s eloquent oratory, if at times vague, inspired “an outbreak of infectious optimism.’’

Denton’s “The Plots Against the President’’ details in a brisk, cogent narrative what Roosevelt faced after he won election against Herbert Hoover that November. As with Obama, the president-elect seemed to infuriate many on the right, whose criticisms often contradicted one another. Roosevelt was (in turn): socialist? communist? fascist? His enemies painted him as either an intellectual lightweight, incapable of addressing the nation’s financial emergency, or an evil mastermind, a traitor to his class, a tool of foreign interests. Much like today’s birthers, a hard core of Roosevelt-haters saw the New Deal as “a Jewish conspiracy,’’ and Denton writes of the propaganda campaign launched by those “determined to prove that Jewish blood coursed through Roosevelt’s veins.’’

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