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Monday, December 11, 2023


The Octogenarian: Déjà vu all over again?


Graphic by Courtney Williams/The Cougar

In 1938 and 1939 things were different.  I was still young, but old enough to recognize what was happening around me. We were still in the Great Depression and a nickel was hard to come by.

I spent every Saturday afternoon in the Pimlico Theatre, a movie house where, for a nickel, I would see a double feature.

You see, we were a different nation then. So besides seeing fires, accidents and Japanese planes bombing the Chinese, often two images would come on that giant screen.  One image was the U.S. flag, the stars and stripes with 48 stars representing each state. The other would be the image of our president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Both of these images had the same result: overwhelming applause from the theater audience.  There was a respect for some things that sadly we as a people have lost, but that’s OK. It was also a time of presidential politics, just as we are in now, and we had a leader who was tired after eight tough years as president while fighting polio.

He had developed plans for his presidential library in Hyde Park, and a nearby stone cottage to which he planned to retire. No president had ever served or tried to serve a third-consecutive term and FDR didn’t plan to either.

Then the president found it necessary to telephone his wife, Eleanor, to tell her that Germany had attacked Poland and German planes were bombing Polish cities.

Eleanor Roosevelt, in my estimation the greatest First Lady of all time, then openly professed her sympathy for all the people of Europe, including the German people, and her disregard for Hitler for causing this mess.

The president did not actually run for a third term in the common way of running for office, but was drafted by the Democratic Party Convention. When his wife, Eleanor, reluctantly went to the convention in his place, she ended a squabble about to split the party over FDR’s choice of George Wallace as his vice president.  She became the first First Lady to ever address a political convention.

This was some five years after I first met that First Lady. But since her time, I have known and know of many other great women who have held that position. The way I feel about Eleanor Roosevelt is that that the American people elected her to be First Lady back in 1931 and, luckily for us, she brought along her husband, FDR, to hold down the president’s position.

Now, to the deja vu in my story.

I have seen Hillary Clinton change her opinion, which some call a crime, but it is a crime of which I am also guilty. Of course, I always thought a change of ideas was a sign of intelligent thought, but what would I know?

I have gone back, searching to see what other crime, great or small, she has been found to actually be guilty of.  None?  Is it possible?

These past few weeks, I witnessed this much-maligned woman stand up in debate. She went before the U.S. House Select Committee on Benghazi of our own do-nothing Congress, where seven congressmen were left with aching sphincter muscles because they had been torn up by a real woman.

I saw the tired look in Hillary’s eyes after the break, just as I had seen that same tired look in Eleanor Roosevelt’s eyes way back when.

That show of fatigue didn’t slow either one, they both had jobs to do and finished them well.

This most recent time, I have been witnessing the human being most ready and able to be the next president of my country and, my God willing, I will live long enough to vote for her and see it actually happen.

Opinion columnist Ken Levin is a political science senior and may be reached at [email protected]

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