Alpine Summit

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Like Instapundit Said

"I'm starting to get tired of all thise 'Obama as FDR' talk."

He links to this blog about Obama's first 100 days and how they are trying to take FDR's first 100 days as a model for his administration.  That's all well and good, but the author lavishes praise on FDR as if he had something to do with getting the country out of the depression.

First off, the person nobody ever gives credit for pulling the world out of the depression is Adolf Hitler.  It was because of World War II that industry was able to output at levels never before seen and employ all those people who were out of work during the depression.   I guess it's not palatable for some people to think Hitler could be associated with anything positive like ending the depression.  Not that I think it was good he started a war.

Secondly, FDR's "new deal" policies did nothing to pull the country out of the depression.  Yes he employed workers and did many public work projects, but he also set a terrible precedent that we are still living with today: the idea that it is the government that should bail people out when they fall on tough financial times.  The difference today being that people expected you work for your dollar from the government as opposed to it simply being handed to you-- for that FDR certainly got it right. The country simply limped along until WWII could come.  In fact, FDR was a big advocate of joining the fight!

Which brings me to a sidebar about how Obama has backtracked on his willingness to pull troops from Iraq.  At first he said he would pull them out the day after taking office.  After being shown that this would weaken us strategically, Obama recognized the "tiger by the tail" situation we're in with that particular conflict (which I won't go into) and backtracked on that position and now says he will "examine the situation before making a decision."  I think that at least shows he's willing to correct his own flawed policies and hopefully get over this notion he seems to have that he has all the answers.

One thing I do credit the new deal with is that it gave people in the country hope that they would be okay.  It was, as most democratic things are, more about people perceiving they would be okay versus actually being okay.  For that, FDR got it right and was a widely loved president because of it.  Another accomplishment FDR made was instituting farming incentives that many conservatives hate today, but encouraged fertile land preservation which contributed to ending the dust bowl.

Bottom line: while the people in the upcoming administration are studying FDR's first 100 days, and have certainly chosen a good president to emulate, perhaps they should look at the other 5000 days and not try to follow him too closely.

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