A Brilliant Leader

franklin D roosevelt
This column was written by CBS News Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith.
If you love history, listen up. Jonathan Alter, the great columnist from Newsweek has a brand new look at FDR called "The Defining Moment: FDR's Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope."

No matter what travails you or I have endured, it probably doesn't amount to much compared to the Depression. America in the early 1930s was hungry for a dictator, and more than a few people thought FDR was the man for the job.

What Roosevelt did, though, and what Alter spells out so well, is to give the country its future back. Some of the language — "Nothing to fear but, fear itself" — was little more than mumbo jumbo. But the way Roosevelt delivered it — and his "fireside chats" — made Americans believe there was someone in the White House who was on their side. Someone who cared about them. Someone who knew their pain.

FDR dodged an assassin's bullets. He survived polio. And in the end, turned out not be an empty suit, but a brilliant leader.

Harry's daily commentary can be heard on manyCBS Radio News affiliates across the country.