dissembling roosevelt

In 1937, the Democratic Senate Majority Leader — Joseph Robinson — passed away, opening up a contest to fill that spot between Alben Barkley and Pat Harrison.  Barkley won by a vote of 38 to 37 — Roosevelt favoring the more reliable Barkley, playing a two-faced game of “impartiality” in the manner but offering the key assistance.  Everyone immediately posed for “Party Unity” photographs, shaking hands, praises all around, publicized conferences.

And Pat Harrison used the opportunity to separate himself more fully from the president.  The anti-New Deal Democrat nucleus for the Senate that consisted of Joshiah Bailey, Millard Tydings, Carter Glass, and Harry Byrd expanded as Roosevelt’s Court Fight went under way.  When Supreme Court Justice Owen Roberts bowed to political pressures and switched his judicial decisions from conservative to liberal — a bullwark of opposition that some skeptical Conservative (largely Dixiecrat) Democrats had leaned on to serve as a line of Obstructionism they would not have to force themselves — served to move them further afield — during the War period, opposing every Domestic policy of the Roosevelt administration en masse.

 How this plays in terms of modern day politics and the sudden comparisons to needing act like Roosevelt, I can’t say.  Perhaps there is a “Use It or Lose It” lesson for Obama, or rather a “Watch your back”.  Or perhaps there is a lesson there in getting around devolved and artificial political procedural norms.  But when dis-sembling Roosevelt,…

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