FDR and the Chair

By Michael Popejoy

It has often been said that had FDR ran for office during the era of television, he most likely would never have been elected.Why?

Well, I am not sure.Are we that concerned that someone physically handicapped cannot hold high political office? This would make an interesting debate. I am curious if we are better today at voting that someone reasonable physically handicapped could be elected.

What do you think? Or should I ask, how would you vote?


Franklin Delano Roosevelt was in a wheelchair, stricken by polio, before he ran for office, during his run for office and during his time in office. The reality is that no one saw him in that chair. No one watched him as he unsteadily held on to someone before he could mount the podium to give speeches. People did see him really but, not the masses of people who made up the electorate years later who would have watched all of this drama on television from their homes.

A much different decision may have been made and much different outcomes could have resulted when considering the crises and conflicts that faced America from 1932 and beyond. But, the press was sympathetic and cooperative by not starting their filming until after he  stood up and was steady at the podium. So when the American people saw him on film, he looked just fine.

Imagine the press today turning off their cameras if the President slipped and fell or stumbled or in some way looked physically compromised. Not for a minute! When President Gerald Ford fell coming off Air Force One, the cameras followed him all the way down. Bonus points to the readers that can remember who the President was that threw up during a Japanese state dinner, and it was almost announced to the country before a news producer broke in and said stop?

We want to see health and vigor in all our leaders. Do they really like to run all around Washington every day or do they do it to say something to the American people like: “hey, I am healthy and vital.”

The President’s physical examination each year is almost front page news. To me, if he (or she) is sitting up and taking nourishment, then it seems good to go for the country. Could it be that we want to avoid a situation like we had with Woodrow Wilson when he returned from Versailles quite sick and  never got well?

obama-push-up-16x9Much of the decisions of office were made in his rooms in secrecy. Which decisions were really his and which were penciled in by someone else? Every President, including Obama, seems to have to prove to the country that he is in shape for the job.

I had some early experience working in a spinal rehabilitation center and it was remarkable to watch “wheelchair bound” patients quite capable of feats of human strength and endurance that I would find impossible. If you don’t believe me, challenge a paraplegic to an arm wrestling match. You will lose!

Maybe we should be more concerned that candidates running for high office be examined for mental fitness rather than using a stopwatch on their morning runs!

Well, happy holidays, or holly hippodays, to all of those who will be stuffed with far too much food for good health. Enjoy your holidays and remember, 2014 is just another year! My New Years Resolution is to find a job!

See ya all next year!

March is ASPAs 75th Anniversary and I hear there is a big party planned in Washington, D.C.


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