Obama No Jim Farley: Nader

Franklin D. Roosevelt, James Farley, and Charles Richard Crane in Warm Springs, Georgia, on Dec. 7, 1931.

U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

Franklin D. Roosevelt, James Farley, and Charles Richard Crane in Warm Springs, Georgia, on Dec. 7, 1931.

Barack Obama is no Jim Farley.

That’s Ralph Nader’s conclusion, in a letter to the president which also accuses Obama of demonstrating “impaired moral authority.”

The longtime consumer advocate’s complaints run to the nation’s supply of weaponry to Israel, which in turn commits “war crimes against the people of Palestine year after year,” as Nader puts it, and they include the president’s refusal to accept public financing in his election campaigns and they conclude with Obama’s trip to party fundraisers in New York City on the day that a Malaysian airliner was shot out of the sky over Ukraine and Israel was commencing a ground invasion of Gaza.

All this comes from no fan of the commander-in-chief — Nader had denounced Obama as a “political coward” a few years ago for not supporting Elizabeth Warren’s appointment to run the new federal consumer protection bureau. And he’s no particular fan of the Democratic Party, for that matter — the 97,000 votes that Nader collected on Florida’s presidential ballot in 2000 pretty much ensured that Vice President Al Gore would not become president of the United States.

But Jim Farley?

“For someone who does not exactly have a Jim Farley type of personality, you certainly go to a lot of exclusive, political fundraisers all around the country,” Nader complained in his July 21 letter to Obama. “This allocation of your time is not only an unsavory distraction from your presidential responsibilities, but it comes at an opportunity cost for other types of public interest and charitable groups whose gatherings would like to hear your timely remarks.”

Farley served as Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s patronage-dispensing postmaster and political adviser. He was chairman of the Democratic National Committee in 1936 when FDR ran for reelection and, as manager of the president’s campaign, predicted that his boss would carry every state but two, Maine and Vermont. FDR indeed won 532 electoral votes, all but eight of the 531 then available. He lost Maine and Vermont.

Now, Jim Farley had lost his father as a boy. And so did Obama.

“Big Jim Farley” stood about an inch taller than Obama does today — Farley, at six-foot-two. And a newspaper article in 1946 made note of his ``highly developed personality.”  Obama has been known to tell a joke or two, even at his own expense — he does know when to fold ‘em, however, passing up, as he did, an appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” on his fundraising trip to the West Coast this week.

But, beyond that, the biographies of the late political kingmaker and the current president of the United States really hold little in common.

In the realm of insulting comparisons, this one’s probably less biting than Lloyd Bentsen’s debating line about Dan Quayle — “no Jack Kennedy.” And Obama probably will take the “no Jim Farley” rap over an indictment for lack of moral authority.

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