Friday, February 12, 2010

Why Knowing More About FDR's Health Matters

This article at HNN is by Steven Lomazow, defending his book and why it should matter to us to know more about FDR's health, as it has been criticized as inconsequential information.

Lomazow says FDR's health does make a difference in our historical endeavors:
If one is to believe the conventional wisdom as espoused by the editors of the Annals of Medicine in the accompanying editorial to Howard Bruenn’s 1970 paper “We are given, by Dr. Bruenn, the picture of a great and gallant man, fatigued by the burdens of his office and by his hypertension and reduced cardiac reserve, yet quite able to exercise his judgment and to use the fruits of his unique knowledge and experience in guiding the war effort,” then the findings in each and every historical treatise about Roosevelt and his policies since this time should be considered valid. In fact, the reality of FDR’s health and the consequences of it upon his behavior and decision making are a far different story.

It is quite evident, despite the protestations of Howard Bruenn to the contrary, that FDR was well aware of his diagnosis and prognosis prior to accepting the 1944 Democratic nomination for president (we believe he knew it prior to the third term). The Lahey memorandum makes it clear that the president was informed, in no uncertain terms, on July 7th 1944, that he would not survive a fourth term. This had to have had a tangible effect upon Roosevelt’s thought process going forward, especially in light of the fact that he had personally witnessed the decline of Woodrow Wilson and the consequential failure to establish a successful world peace organization due to his marked infirmity...

By 1945, Roosevelt was barely functioning. Was he unable to comprehend the legitimacy of a Japanese peace offer brought to him in January 1945 by MacArthur? If he pursued it more vigorously would we have been spared the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives at Iwo Jima and Okinawa? Would it have been necessary to use atomic weapons in Hiroshima and Nagasaki?
If Roosevelt was able to focus on the information brought to him in March 1945 by General Albert C. Wedemeyer (who wrote he was in “never-never land”) about the future of China, or if he heeded the warnings of Governor George H. Earle about Stalin (instead of exiling him to Samoa) would there have been a Korean War? Would there have been a war in Vietnam? Would there have been a Cold War?

He ends by saying that, "All of these questions must now be revisited, based on the enhanced knowledge we now have about the thinking process and mental capabilities of the man responsible for making the most important decisions."

So what do you all think - does it matter to us what FDR's health and diagnosis were?

1 comment:

Steven Lomazow M.D. said...

thanks for reading my article and soliciting comments!