Leading Blog






02.05.09

Lessons From FDR's Cabinet

Leadership Nuggets

Nothing to Fear
With a nod to Albert Einstein, we can't change the system by using the same kind of people we used to create it. Adam Cohen’s has written a very relevant book, Nothing to Fear about Franklin Roosevelt’s first hundred days in 1933. Here is an edited excerpt regarding the Cabinet he selected. It had the distinction of being sworn in at once on the same afternoon after his inauguration.
The Cabinet had gotten a lukewarm reception when Roosevelt announced it. Arthur Knock of the Times declared that “its composite trait seems to me to be diligence; brilliance it lacks completely.” The new Cabinet was criticized for lacking “big men.” One Republican congressman wisecracked that Roosevelt had kept his promise to look out for the “forgotten men,” since his Cabinet contained “nine of them and one woman.”

Roosevelt’s Cabinet members may not have been well known, but they had been carefully chosen.… Overall, Roosevelt declared his Cabinet “slightly left of center,” a characterization he also applied to himself. It was the most diverse Cabinet in history.

Roosevelt joked that he had sworn in the Cabinet right away so they could “receive an extra day’s pay.” The real reason was that he wanted them to begin work immediately, in the spirit of unity. Even without “big men,” the Cabinet included men, and one woman, with a great deal of knowledge, experience, and commitment. The best of them had, as Walter Lippmann noted, something that would make them an important force during the next one hundred days: “convictions, which they have held to when it was neither profitable nor popular.”

Adapted from Nothing to Fear: FDR's Inner Circle and the Hundred Days That Created Modern America by Adam Cohen

Posted by Michael McKinney at 06:17 PM
| Comments (0) | Government , Leadership Nuggets



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