What happens when a liberal president cozies up to the banking class in his effort to get out of a world-historical economic crisis?

He was surprised and wounded at the way the upper classes turned on him…. Consider the situation in which he came to office. The economic machinery of the nation had broken down…. People who had anything to lose were frightened; they were willing to accept any way out that would leave them still in possession…. Although he had adopted many novel, perhaps risky expedients, he had avoided vital disturbances to the interests. For example, he had passed by an easy chance to solve the bank crisis by nationalization…. His basic policies for industry and agriculture had been designed after models supplied by great vested-interest groups. Of course, he had adopted several measures of relief and reform, but mainly of the sort that any wise and humane conservative would admit to be necessary….

Nothing that [he] had done warranted the vituperation he soon got in the conservative press or the obscenities that the … maniacs were bruiting about in their clubs and dining-rooms. Quite understandably he began to feel that the people who were castigating him were muddle-headed ingrates.

This is of course Hofstadter on FDR, pp. 434-435—the same passage where he explains, “It has often been said that he betrayed his class; but if by his class one means the whole policy-making, power-wielding stratum, it would be just as true to say his class betrayed him.”

Advertisements