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MSNBC anchor Lawrence O’Donnell compared embattled Senate candidate John Fetterman (D-PA) to former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt during a recent monologue.
O’Donnell, during Wednesday’s broadcast of “The Last Word,” suggested that Fetterman’s apparent struggles in the aftermath of a stroke were no different than the physical issues that plagued Roosevelt after he battled polio myelitis at the age of 39. The only real difference in his mind was the fact that Roosevelt did not have cameras on him at all times.
MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell compares Fetterman to FDR: "While he was brilliantly winning World War II, Franklin Roosevelt once fell asleep in the oval office in the middle of signing his name to a letter. That was not painful to watch because no one got to see that." pic.twitter.com/epDhIhfa6T
— Kevin Tober (@KevinTober94) October 27, 2022
O’Donnell began with a clip of Fetterman’s debate with Republican Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz — a debate that he noted many had said was “painful to watch” — before he launched into the comparison.
“While he was brilliantly winning World War II, Franklin Roosevelt once fell asleep in the oval office in the middle of signing his name to a letter. That was not painful to watch because no one got to see that,” O’Donnell began, noting that both Roosevelt and Churchill “had the good fortune” to lead their respective nations during a time when most of their day to day activities remained private: “Long before television news could cover their every move and long before Twitter could have people pumping out of their instant reactions to their public appearances.”
O’Donnell went on to describe the lengths to which Roosevelt went to ensure that the American people would never know that their president could not walk on his own — he often used a cane and leaned on an adviser if he had to make his way to a podium to speak, and had his personal wheelchair made from a regular kitchen chair so that it would look less out-of-place.
“Franklin Delano Roosevelt believed that it would be painful to watch him, being lifted in and out of a car by Secret Service agents so he never allowed cameras to capture that. Elaborate steps were taken when his train would arrive or depart so that he could be transferred from the car to the train, lifted in and out, without anyone seeing and without anyone thinking that it was painful to watch,” O’Donnell continued.
The MSNBC host told another story about Roosevelt for good measure, talking about a young girl who had noticed the president’s wheelchair and said that she would keep the president’s secret.
“Painful to watch quickly became an oft-repeated phrase on Twitter last night during the Pennsylvania Senate campaign debate because Democratic candidate John Fetterman suffered a stroke this spring and has not fully recovered 100 percent of his verbal fluency,” O’Donnell concluded.