Two years ago in Disability Thinking: Book Club: “The Man He Became”
It may be time for me to re-read “The Man He Became.” The book draws a much more nuanced picture of Franklin D. Roosevelt as a disabled man than anything previously published. In modern terms, he neatly straddled the Medical Model and Social Model of disability. He never gave up on finding a cure for Polio, and I don’t think he would have related to anything like today’s “disability pride” or “disability culture.” Yet in his own life, he clearly made a conscious decision to cut short his personal quest for recovery in order to revive his political career. He carefully restricted how his disability was pictured and discussed in public. In person, he loved and trusted the advice and companionship of others with disabilities … people who otherwise had no connection at all with Roosevelt’s political experience or social privilege. He consulted the best medical experts he could find, but ultimately developed his own theories and treatments. His political resurrection relied on what we would now call “Inspiration Porn,” but he would never rely on such sympathy again. As a disabled man, FDR was of his time, and ahead of it, simultaneously.
“The Man He Became”, by James Tobin