We Need More Roosevelts in Public Life

by Bill Brenner on September 16, 2014

PBS launched a new Ken Burns series this week, this one on the Roosevelts. What I’ve seen so far reminds me of why I’ve always idolized this family.

The documentary focuses on Teddy, Franklin and Eleanor — how they each overcame deep personal demons and rose to the top of American politics. In the process, they changed millions of lives for the better.

I’ve written quite a bit about them over the years. The launch of Ken Burns’ latest masterpiece is as good an excuse as any to offer up this compilation.

Teddy Roosevelt Did It All. What’s Your Excuse?
TR was a sickly boy whose asthma often left him struggling for breath. He could have used that as an excuse early on to avoid life’s big challenges. Instead, he lifted weights obsessively and built himself into a bull of a man who would live what he called “the strenuous life.”

6 Guys I Look to in Times of Trouble
Teddy and Franklin are on this list — FDR for overcoming polio and changing the world as president.

Eleanor Roosevelt Was a Badass
I’ve always admired Eleanor Roosevelt. She defied the society of her day and helped forged a new path for women. She was a tireless fighter for the disadvantaged. During WWII, she traveled to the front to visit the troops, despite the danger. She was an early fighter for civil rights. One of her most famous quotes was to “do something every day that scares you.” The older she got, the more badass she became.

The Roosevelts: An Intimate Portrait poster

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