The Powerful We Don’t Elect

As the nation careens wildly to the choice of the next president, don’t forget that with a president comes a retinue of the unelected. Some will have lots of influence, some will be gone within months.

Cabinet nominees, heads of regulatory agencies and judges — those names will be debated, dragged through the mud, insulted in the Senate. But presidents bring many more people they alone can choose. For instance, their personal secretaries.

For most Americans, the name Marguerite “Missy” LeHand may have been occluded by time. But the personal secretary to Franklin Roosevelt had tangible impact on history. Many people confuse her with Lucy Mercer. Mercer is the woman who’d had an affair with FDR in 1916 — long before polio rendered him a paraplegic, his political comeback as New York governor, and his historic presidency.

LeHand was an intimate of FDR from 1921 to 1941, a period that included the polio, recovery, comeback and pre-war presidential period. A stroke ended her career in 1941.

LeHand had a far more personal and intimate relation with FDR than Eleanor Roosevelt did. The famous and powerful knew that to have any chance of getting something before FDR, they had to go through LeHand. LeHand could read FDR’s mind, privately offered policy and personnel advice, made sure appointments ended when they should or when the president wanted, and had a hand in many of his important speeches.

Read More at Federal News Radio

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