Yesterday's Sunday New York Times included an advertising supplement for a History Channel's program entitled, FDR: A Presidency Revealed. The print ad added an inadvertently revealing description of Roosevelt, however, calling him "America's Man of Steel." Hmm, you mean "Man of Steel" as in the Russian, "Stalin"? Why, yes! I do mean as in "Stalin"!
I doubt that the History Channel mean to equate Roosevelt to Stalin. Their website does not repeat the phrase used in that print ad, perhaps because somebody noticed the infelicitous choice of words. Even I wouldn't go so far as to equate Roosevelt to that Russian butcher, a man more bloody than steely. Still, I am quite willing to analogize the two politicians.
In large part due to the prevailing miasma of totalitarian ideologies, the early 20th Century gave the world a bumper crop of tyrants. Roosevelt numbers with Stalin, Hitler, and Mussolini as a man who won political power thanks to bad ideas. I don't say that just to slight Roosevelt; I say it to praise the fundamental good sense of the American people and their constitutional republic. His overseas counterparts no doubt sneered at Roosevelt's ineffectual attempts to nationalize the U.S. economy and enslave his subjects. "Why, he couldn't organize a death camp sing-along!" they must have joked. To our credit, rather than to Roosevelt's, he couldn't.