Obama and FDR: History repeating itself?


I wrote last month about the idea of a president's "first 100 days" in office and how it all originated with FDR. Although I touched on the comparisons between FDR and Obama, I think this is worth another look considering all the buzz it's been generating lately.

Two news stories from this week have brought the comparisons up again. On Monday, Slate had a piece on Obama's plans to possibly hold a series of short, televised speeches addressing the nation about the state of the economy. Writer John Dickerson draws comparisons between this and FDR's fireside chats and even finds an FDR quote from these chats that exactly reflects Obama's rhetoric about the economy.

The other story has to do with Obama's VP, Joe Biden, who gave a speech at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser on Monday. According to Yahoo, in his speech, Biden echoed the popular comparison between our current economic woes and the Great Depression that FDR faced (a comparison that many, including Jimmy Carter, take issue with).

But Biden took it a step further -- he said that Obama is facing a more difficult first 100 days than even FDR. He explains this saying the economic problems Obama faces today are far more complicated than that which caused the Depression. Despite emphasizing that we are in unchartered waters, Biden also stressed that "This is not about ideology. This is about economic necessity."

Obviously, this new administration is trying to walk fine lines. They don't want to sound too dismal, nor too optimistic. They want to stress that problems we're facing today are both alike and unlike what we've faced in the past. Notice how they want to promote old, New-Deal solutions to today's problems, but on a bigger scale to fix a smaller, more complicated situation. Managing these historical comparisons has become a tricky business.

More presidential and economic stuff: How Barack Obama Works How Joe Biden Works What's the difference between a recession and a depression?