As regular listeners will know, Lucretia and I have debated “the FDR question” a lot, amidst a flurry of new reconsiderations among a few thinkers and places on the right who think we should hold FDR in higher esteem. But over and over again in this running argument we keep coming back to Conrad Black’s magisterial biography, Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom . 

While there have been several serious right-leaning thinkers over the years who have offered favorable views of FDR, Black’s is the most capacious and also the most curious. And so we thought, why not go to the source himself, and hash it out with the best. To our great delight, Lord Black accepted our invitation (though insisting we call him Conrad), and hence, this episode’s wide ranging conversation, which is as much about how political life is to be understood as it as about FDR.

Though Lucretia is a yuuuuge Conrad Black fan (as am I), she isn’t entirely convinced by his argument, and we’re going to go mano-a-mano next week about the subject.

We also wander off into several other issues on the minds of everyone, such as whether Conrad thinks Trump should run again in 2024, and also whether he thinks American conservatives overestimate Winston Churchill.

It was a splendid conversation, worthy of the best single-malt you can lay your hands on.

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There are 22 comments.

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  1. Richard Easton Coolidge
    Richard Easton
    @RichardEaston

    I’ve listened to the first 30 minutes and think that Black is way too easy on Roosevelt. He used the IRS to attack political foes which is despicable. https://www.hillsdale.edu/educational-outreach/free-market-forum/2006-archive/fdr-and-the-irs/

    • #1
  2. Steven Hayward Podcaster
    Steven Hayward
    @StevenHayward

    Richard Easton (View Comment):

    I’ve listened to the first 30 minutes and think that Black is way too easy on Roosevelt. He used the IRS to attack political foes which is despicable. https://www.hillsdale.edu/educational-outreach/free-market-forum/2006-archive/fdr-and-the-irs/

    I was going to bring up the IRS point (because Black does in his book) among many others, but there wasn’t time.

    • #2
  3. LibertyDefender Member
    LibertyDefender
    @LibertyDefender

    I don’t understand how Conrad Black can be so even-tempered when reflecting on the US justice system that treated him so unjustly.  He should be bitter and contemptuous of the entire United States federal government.

    He does go so far as to suggest – in measured tones – that certain unsavory elements (my Lord Blackism, not his words), e.g., the FBI ought to be disbanded.  Yet he soon overlooks that when he recommends that Trump not run for President in 2024.  From where I sit, only Trump has the testicular fortitude to take such drastic and necessary steps.

    Abolish the FBI, the DoJ, the IRS, the EPA – for starters.  Make America Great Again!

    • #3
  4. Rōnin Coolidge
    Rōnin
    @Ronin

    If I remember correctly, I read in the “The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression” that the Roosevelt administration realized sometime in the late 1930’s that they would have been more successful getting money into the common people’s hands simply by dropping a pallet containing one million dollars every mile across the country.  

    • #4
  5. Leslie Watkins Member
    Leslie Watkins
    @LeslieWatkins

    Extremely interesting. Lord Black is a very considerate raconteur and is rarely rattled by converse positions. It’s a pleasure listening to his points of view in conversation with Steve and Lucretia.

    • #5
  6. Leslie Watkins Member
    Leslie Watkins
    @LeslieWatkins

    BTW, while listening I sipped a nice cab that comes from a box. I would debate it’s merits, but I’m guessing I might get kicked out of court.

    • #6
  7. Steven Hayward Podcaster
    Steven Hayward
    @StevenHayward

    LibertyDefender (View Comment):

    I don’t understand how Conrad Black can be so even-tempered when reflecting on the US justice system that treated him so unjustly. He should be bitter and contemptuous of the entire United States federal government.

    He does go so far as to suggest – in measured tones – that certain unsavory elements (my Lord Blackism, not his words), e.g., the FBI ought to be disbanded. Yet he soon overlooks that when he recommends that Trump not run for President in 2024. From where I sit, only Trump has the testicular fortitude to take such drastic and necessary steps.

    Abolish the FBI, the DoJ, the IRS, the EPA – for starters. Make America Great Again!

    I heard him say just the opposite–that Trump SHOULD run in 2024, but as a different Trump, following the Nixon model from 1968.

    • #7
  8. Richard Easton Coolidge
    Richard Easton
    @RichardEaston

    I think that the Roosevelt administration was largely at fault for the Pearl Harbor debacle. Admiral Richardson opposed moving the fleet from San Diego to Hawaii because the fleet would be too vulnerable there. He was sacked. Betty Stark, a friend of Roosevelt who was CNO, sent the confusing war warning to the Pacific Fleet. By the time the 13 points out of the 14 point Japanese message was intercepted and decoded on December 6th, it was clear that war was about to break out but no warning was sent about the imminent attack (though of course it didn’t mention Hawaii). When the 14th point decoded the morning of the 7th, Marshall was out riding his horse and took a long time to get back to DC. The message the US sent to Japan in November 1941 insisted that the Japanese withdraw from China. The Japanese interpreted that to include Manchuria which was not the intent of the US. Be clear idiots or a war may break out unnecessarily. Roosevelt managed to avoid the blame for Pearl Harbor by establishing stacked investigations.

    Once the war started, the U.S. attacked on two axis through the Pacific which was unnecessary. It would have been better and quicker to concentrate on the Navy’s Central Pacific drive.

    • #8
  9. Steven Hayward Podcaster
    Steven Hayward
    @StevenHayward

    Rōnin (View Comment):

    If I remember correctly, I read in the “The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression” that the Roosevelt administration realized sometime in the late 1930’s that they would have been more successful getting money into the common people’s hands simply by dropping a pallet containing one million dollars every mile across the country.

    FWIW, I called Amity’s book “The best book ever written about the Great Depression” in National Review.

    She sent me a box of chocolates.

    • #9
  10. Dr.Guido Member
    Dr.Guido
    @DrGuido

    Did not FDR come close to at least consider Wilson as an all encompassing super powerful Chief Executive/ political powerhouse to emulate—and even surpass?

    Did FDR not festoon the stage with the KKK at his 1st Inauguration?

    Did he not irresponsibly hide the Manhattan Project from Truman even after he knew how ill he himself had become?

    I’m still searching for a metric that will allow me to add up all of his plusses and minuses and assign a meaningful score.

    • #10
  11. Dr.Guido Member
    Dr.Guido
    @DrGuido

    Leslie Watkins (View Comment):

    BTW, while listening I sipped a nice cab that comes from a box. I would debate it’s merits, but I’m guessing I might get kicked out of court.

    @lesliewatkins A friend gave me a box Merlot for my birthday which I thought an insult… until I sipped it…Forget all the flowery notes, etc…It was a simply delicious beverage.

     

    Oh, Hi, LINDA!

    • #11
  12. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

     

     

     

     

    The modern administrative state is anti-constitutional and directed by an oligarchic ‘elite’ that is corrupt and distant from the people it rules. This Highlight from Hillsdale College’s FREE Online Course, “Constitution 101: The Meaning and History of the Constitution,” exposes the modern administrative state as the antithesis of Constitutional government.

    • #12
  13. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Exposing non-biblical Christianity for what it is is what Kierkegaard is all about.

    That’s the real Kierkegaard, though.

    • #13
  14. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    The constitution cannot function as intended when four tech companies control the public square. The issue is the first mover problem and the network effect. 

    We did every single thing wrong in the face of the wage deflation and job destruction from automation and globalize labor. 

     

    It’s been a while since I’ve heard this, but Jim Grant talks about LBJ leaning on Arthur Burns. What an abomination.

    https://hiddenforces.io/podcasts/jim-grant-inflation-crypto-meme-stocks/

     


    You have to pay a dollar to get the transcript or watch the video. 

    Once at the forefront of production, human capital is phasing out in the economic machine. Viktor Shvets, global strategist at Macquarie Group and author of “The Great Rupture: Three Empires, Four Turning Points, and the Future of Humanity”, joins Michael Green to discuss the devolving nature of capitalistic societies as the demand for an augmented scope of human rights storms capitalism. Shvets also examines the disruption to factors of production in the Information Age. Filmed on September 21, 2021. Special thanks to Albert Bozsó for reaching out to suggest Mike Green interview Viktor Shvets.

    https://www.realvision.com/shows/mike-green-in-conversation/videos/is-the-golden-age-of-liberal-capitalism-over

    • #14
  15. LibertyDefender Member
    LibertyDefender
    @LibertyDefender

    Steven Hayward (View Comment):

    LibertyDefender (View Comment):

    I don’t understand how Conrad Black can be so even-tempered when reflecting on the US justice system that treated him so unjustly. He should be bitter and contemptuous of the entire United States federal government.

    He does go so far as to suggest – in measured tones – that certain unsavory elements (my Lord Blackism, not his words), e.g., the FBI ought to be disbanded. Yet he soon overlooks that when he recommends that Trump not run for President in 2024. From where I sit, only Trump has the testicular fortitude to take such drastic and necessary steps.

    Abolish the FBI, the DoJ, the IRS, the EPA – for starters. Make America Great Again!

    I heard him say just the opposite–that Trump SHOULD run in 2024, but as a different Trump, following the Nixon model from 1968.

    Fair point.  But is a different Trump still Trump?

    Only Trump has the will – and the complete lack of obligation to entrenched political interests – to make actual headway in dismantling the administrative state.  The most exciting thing about a second Trump term would be that he knows what big mistakes to avoid.  Trust no one. Fire ALL the woke generals at the DoD.  Mike Pompeo and Ric Grenell – each wearing sidearms as part of their uniforms – can clean out the entire intelligence community and State department.  Secretary of the Treasury John Taylor can abolish the IRS and head the Federal Reserve Bank simultaneously.  Abolish the EPA, let states protect property rights, as God and the Constitution intended.

    • #15
  16. texased Coolidge
    texased
    @texased

    Is the zoom video available somewhere? I always assume Lucretia is in hiding. Maybe in Art Bell’s trailer home somewhere in the high desert.

    • #16
  17. Goldwaterwoman Thatcher
    Goldwaterwoman
    @goldwaterwoman

    Conrad Black has the most beautiful voice I’ve ever heard, and I could listen to him all day long. Thank you for sharing his fabulous mind with us.

    • #17
  18. LukeWVa Listener
    LukeWVa
    @LukeWVa

    I am astonished that Lord Black so cavalierly lumps together the three Republican Presidents before Roosevelt, as if they were all the same.  I think the record is clear that if Hoover and Roosevelt had not fooled with the economy through “bold government action” and experimentation, there would have been no Great Depression.  And for him to suggest that Roosevelt didn’t intend to use his programs to effectively buy votes for the Democrats is silly.

    • #18
  19. Richard Easton Coolidge
    Richard Easton
    @RichardEaston

    LukeWVa (View Comment):

    I am astonished that Lord Black so cavalierly lumps together the three Republican Presidents before Roosevelt, as if they were all the same. I think the record is clear that if Hoover and Roosevelt had not fooled with the economy through “bold government action” and experimentation, there would have been no Great Depression. And for him to suggest that Roosevelt didn’t intend to use his programs to effectively buy votes for the Democrats is silly.

    Coolidge’s nickname for Hoover was “wonder boy”. The saying attributed to Harry Hopkins was, “We shall tax and tax, spend and spend, and elect and elect.”

    • #19
  20. dukenaltum Inactive
    dukenaltum
    @dukenaltum

    I have long admired and have read Conrad Black and will continue to do so but he is all wet about Franklin D. Roosevelt. 

    Polio saved America from a reprise of the Wilsonian Fascist state.  A more ambulatory FDR would have been displayed on horseback with his prominent jaw struck out il Duce style.   

    • #20
  21. Leslie Watkins Member
    Leslie Watkins
    @LeslieWatkins

    Dr.Guido (View Comment):

    Leslie Watkins (View Comment):

    BTW, while listening I sipped a nice cab that comes from a box. I would debate it’s merits, but I’m guessing I might get kicked out of court.

    @ lesliewatkins A friend gave me a box Merlot for my birthday which I thought an insult… until I sipped it…Forget all the flowery notes, etc…It was a simply delicious beverage.

     

    Oh, Hi, LINDA!

    For everyday sipping, Black Box is quite nice and until recently was $18–four bottles. You can’t beat it. They also have a delightfully light pinot grigio that is quite refreshing without tasting sweet.

    • #21
  22. Leslie Watkins Member
    Leslie Watkins
    @LeslieWatkins

    Steven Hayward (View Comment):

    Rōnin (View Comment):

    If I remember correctly, I read in the “The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression” that the Roosevelt administration realized sometime in the late 1930’s that they would have been more successful getting money into the common people’s hands simply by dropping a pallet containing one million dollars every mile across the country.

    FWIW, I called Amity’s book “The best book ever written about the Great Depression” in National Review.

    She sent me a box of chocolates.

    I so envy you, Steve, but I’m not surprised to read that she did that. She’s so stellar. I listened to The Forgotten Man on Audible, and I distinctly recall her laying out in great detail how FDR basically wasted the entire year of 1933 following the unsuccessful economic theory of some academic in agriculture—and that the squandered time did not go unnoticed by his advisers and cabinet heads.

    • #22
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