FDR, on the other hand, was the first president with fewer virtues and more promises of giving stuff to the people who voted for him. Apparently, before FDR, politicians who ran for president were good and honest men.
When FDR expanded government in the 1930s, the role of being an “exemplar of virtues” diminished. Instead, appealing to voters by promises of federal aid increased. FDR, for example, when running for office, claimed he had written the Haiti Constitution, when in fact he never went to Haiti. In 1932 he promised again and again in speeches and in the Democratic platform to cut federal spending by 25%, but he sharply raised spending instead. Roosevelt’s lack of character was offset by his ability, in the new politics of the modern era, to target subsidies to key voting groups—farmers, silver miners, unions, and senior citizens. In effect, FDR (and most of his successors) have said “Vote for me. Look at what I can give you from the government, not at what kind of person I am.”
Should we grade our presidents on a curve?