Saturday, May 30, 2009

The more things change...

For the last several... well... years, I have been reading A Patriot's History of the United States by Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen. It is a thoroughly enjoyable tome that addresses every aspect of the history of our wonderful country. Since I am always tackling way more books than I can ever hope to read - at least until my kids are grown and gone - A Patriot's History often gets shoved to the back burner. I did pull this book out the other day to read about the Great Depression and the events leading up to it. I was astonished by some of what I read, as the parallels between the candidacy, rhetoric, and presidencies of Franklin Roosevelt and Barack Obama are eerily similar. The following quotes from the book are especially profound when you consider that the book was written when Barack Obama was not yet running for president, and was still an obscure state senator from Illinois.

In the months leading up the 2008 election, you probably remember Obama taking George W. Bush's administration to task for his profligate spending and lamenting the hundreds of billions of dollars in deficit spending that Bush had carried out. Obama wasn't running against Bush, but he did spend the campaign linking McCain to Bush's policies - hence the nickname "McSame" that the left called McCain. All this can make you chuckle as we now watch Obama making Bush seem like a reasonable spender.

During the 1932 election, Franklin Roosevelt did the same thing to Hoover. Even though Franklin Roosevelt would go on to expand government and government spending to unprecedented levels with the New Deal, Roosevelt didn't seem to make this known during the 1932 campaign:
...during the campaign, FDR, a man whose presidency would feature by far the largest expansion of the federal government ever, called for a balanced budget and accused Hoover of heading "the greatest spending Administration in... all our history [which] has piled bureau on bureau, commission on commission." Honest observers can find little difference between his programs and Hoover's. His own advisers admitted as much. Rexford Tugwell, for example, noted "We didn't admit it at that time, but practically the whole New Deal was extrapolated from programs that Hoover started.
Never forget that this whole bailout nonsense started with the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP), which was begun by the Bush Administration, and for which, as a Senator, Obama voted in favor.

Ah, but the parallels get even better. Keeping in mind Obama's repeated urgings that we take immediate action or it will be too late, here is what happened during Roosevelt's administration once he took office:
Thus, the New Deal contained little in the way of a guiding philosophy, except that government should "do something." Equally as important as the lack of direction, virtually all of the New Dealers shared, to one degree or another, a distrust of business and entrepeneurship that they thought had landed the nation in its current distressed condition. Above all, emergency measures needed to be done quickly before opposition could mount to many of these breathtaking challenges to the Constitution. (emphasis by Chanman)
And finally, the hopenchange factor. Check this out:
...the Hundred Days especially addressed areas of the economy that seemed to be the most distressed. The banking system had to be stabilized, and wages (including farm income) increased. And the only calculated policy Roosevelt had, namely, to somehow restore the morale of the nation, rested almost entirely on intangibles such as public emotion and a willingness to believe change would occur. (emphasis by Chanman)
Again, I remind you that these passages were not written to cash in on any comparison between Obama and Roosevelt. All this was written before Obama ran for president, and was practically a nobody.

As the decades continue to separate us from the time of the Great Depression, it is becoming more and more clear to historians, economists, and the general public that the Great Depression did not end because of Roosevelt's New Deal; in fact the only thing Roosevelt accomplished was to prolong the Depression. The Depression finally ended in spite of Roosevelt's policies, not because of them.

Now we have a president carrying out a repeat performance of Roosevelt's failed policies. Let's hope we don't need another World War to bail out Obama and the American economy.

Good Day to You, Sir


M.A. said...

Great post. I own this book too and hope to read it to the end some day. I have many other books that I am reading at the same time as well, so it will be a while before even make a dent.

Anonymous said...

This is my "go-to" resource when the superficial pap of a text book leaves me lacking in history class. I, too, used it specifically for the information about Roosevelt and the depression. At least some juniors will go into the world having heard an accurate view of history.

Law and Order Teacher said...

I've read this book and use it in my class as a foil to Zinn. The AP kids see through Zinn's nonsense and anti-Americanism very quickly. The author is a professor at my alma mater University of Dayton. I was there before him, but I have heard him speak at a book signing. A conservative professor, who knew?

Anonymous said...

Earth 2100 - and the left accused the Bush administration of using scare tactics?

The Vegas Art Guy said...

I wonder if my library has that book... I'm going there tomorrow anyway so at least I'll have one to find.