A perspective on political fights

There is a tendency to look at history — particularly at our historical heroes — through rose-colored glasses.

We look at political deadlock and fighting in today’s Washington with a sense of opprobrium and ask why our leaders can’t work together like those in the past.

That’s why it is good when a book like Lynne Olson’s “Those Angry Days” comes along. It reminds us that there are always arguments in a democracy — and a good many of them are mean-spirited and dirty.

“Those Angry Days” is subtitled “Roosevelt, Lindbergh and America’s Fight Over World War II, 1939-1941.” It tells the tale of the fight between isolationists who wanted to keep the United States out of another European war at any costs and interventionists who sought to support Great Britain and France.

The isolationists were lead by famed aviator Charles Lindbergh and the interventionists were spearheaded by President Franklin Roosevelt. Both sides stooped to dirty tactics to try to win over the hearts and minds of the American public. Roosevelt — one of our political heroes — even urged the FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover to wiretap the phones of some prominent isolationists.

The isolationists accused their opponents of being dupes of the British. The isolationists — including Lindbergh — were accused by the interventionists as being pro-Nazi. It was a nasty fight.

Ultimately, of course, the argument was won for the interventionists by Adolf Hitler’s merciless attempt to enslave all of Europe.

Lindbergh’s reputation never quite recovered from his two-year fight against Roosevelt. He spent the last quarter of his life in obscurity and died at Kipahulu in 1974.

We’d recommend “Those Angry Days” as a great historical read — and for perspective on political arguments in the United States.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.


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