With the wistful tones of a man hoping to cast a big presidential shadow of his own someday, President Clinton offered an assessment of his predecessor, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
"He was a master politician and a magnificent commander-in-chief," the current president said. "His life had its fair share of disappointment and failures, but they never broke his spirit, or his faith in God or his fellow citizens. Because he always rose to the occasion, so did we."Clinton heaped this praise on Roosevelt, the only four-term U.S. president, during a speech before about 1,000 people at a Tuesday night gala in honor of Time magazine's 75th anniversary.
The event offered Clinton a chance to indulge his fascination with Roosevelt and many other men who occupied the White House, as well as an opportunity to again ponder the legacy he will leave.
As if aware of Clinton's mindset, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev also called on Roosevelt's legacy in making a connection between the populist accomplishments of Gandhi and Lenin.
"In Russia, he is held in high regard, perhaps no less than in this country," Gorbachev said of Roosevelt. "In Russia, we appreciate his New Deal."
The president's concern over whether his own legacy would measure up to legends like Roosevelt showed Tuesday, as he contrasted the challenges of Roosevelt's time - the Great Depression and World War II - with those of today: the global economy and Saddam Hussein's Iraq.