The New Clarion

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Carter or FDR? Or What?

February 25th, 2009 by Myrhaf · 10 Comments · Politics

Robert Tracinski makes an interesting point:

I have been wondering whether Barack Obama will turn out to be another Jimmy Carter or another Franklin Roosevelt. The least bad option is Carter: a leader whose policies are disastrous for the economy and for US foreign policy, but who ends up being rejected by the American people and voted out of office after only one term–as opposed to a leader like FDR, whose policies are also disastrous, but who ends up being loved by the American people nonetheless and voted back into office.

After viewing Obama’s speech last night, I am forced to conclude that he has the makings of another FDR.

I have an uncle who was a child during the Great Depression. He worshipped FDR then. He kept an FDR scrapbook, in which he lovingly saved newspaper clippings about his hero.

As strange as it now seems, there was a sense in the 1930’s of FDR as the nation’s savior. People talked about how he could “bear the pain for us all.” He was almost a Christ figure, sacrificing himself for America. Remember, the Great Depression and the welfare state FDR founded were all virgin territory at that time. They couldn’t look back on it all and learn. They had little idea what was happening in the Soviet Union. Austrian economics was not widely know and the novels of Ayn Rand, aside from We the Living, had not been written.

Based on all that, I don’t think Obama will get the full FDR treatment, however hard the media work to make it happen. The world is different now. In a way America is worse, but part of it is better. We now live in an America in which Atlas Shrugged was published over 50 years ago. Knowledge that would have devastated the New Deal is now out there in circulation. Rand’s name constantly comes up among critics of Obama’s economics.

There was no internet in the 1930’s. The writers on this blog would have been so many forgotten men complaining on the street corner to anyone who might listen while leftists controlled all publishing in Manhattan.

The left succeeded in creating a myth of FDR that survives to this day. It is a model of successful propaganda that surely the left wants to repeat. Whatever success they might achieve in creating a myth of Obama, it will only be a fraction of their previous success. The people at Daily Kos will accept the Obama Myth, but at least half of America will reject the myth. It’s a new world now. The Obama Presidency will not be a strict copy of either Carter or FDR, but something new. As in the 1930’s, time sweeps us into virgin territory.

10 Comments so far ↓

  • Burgess Laughlin

    > “Whatever success they might achieve in creating a myth of Obama, it will only be a fraction of their previous success.”

    One way to ensure that is for at least a few individuals who value a philosophy of reason to specialize in the Obama administration or perhaps, even more narrowly, into President Obama himself or one of the departments of his administration.

    Only a dedicated specialist, working over the long-term and thus accumulating a vast amount of information, will be able to speak authoritatively in debate, in books, and in media interviews.

    Generalists won’t be enough. There must be someone like John T. Flynn, author of The Roosevelt Myth.

    (I read Flynn’s book 40 years ago, and I do not know how many of the details I would endorse today, but the book certainly helped disintegrate the myth among those who love liberty.)

    The point is that someone–a weblog writer or a student of history in or out of academia–must focus on a subject that is both narrow and leveraged in its likely importance. Focus is hard work.

  • Madmax

    I’m curious as to what some people here think about the response to Obamas speech last night. It does seem like the MSM is drinking the Obama koolaid by the gallon. I’ve even heard some right wing talk show hosts say that Obama was “Regeanesque.” It seems likely that Obama will get some major socialized health care plan through. All this has to further damage the economy. I’m starting to think we are going to take one hell of a hit. I wonder if the Left will be able to blame all of the damage to come on Bush?

  • Myrhaf

    I missed the speech and Jindal’s response. Maybe if I have some time tomorrow I will read the transcripts.

    The Democrats can’t be stopped. They control the White House, the Congress and the Senate. The only thing that might slow them down is fear of going too far and setting off a “tea party” rebellion (possibly led by Rick Santelli). Right now, with liberals saying “spend, spend, spend,” there is little fear among the Dems of going too far.

  • Bill Brown

    I watched the speech, watched Jindal’s “us too” response, and read both transcripts. I’m working on a blog entry but I’m struggling with it (just like I’ve been struggling to write anything lately). There’s so many ways to come at it.

  • Billy Beck

    Burgess: I read Flynn for the first time last year. On my list of Recommended Books, I called it, “Sobriety. In the face of generations of drunkeness.”

    It’s still not to be missed.

  • Billy Beck

    “Last year”? No, that’s impossible: it was quite before that.

  • seine

    It is a long term scholastic exercise to understand and explain fully how we got to here, today. The average person just wants to go to work and go skiing on the weekend. Its a tough sell.
    The with-your-help-we-can-do-anything dialogue delivered by President Obama motivates the crowd and I think it will need to run its course.
    Truly this crisis is unique in that it is the result of letting a bunch of creative manipulators use our life-blood, our wealth, and run amok.
    But I would like to have a question answered. From personal experiences, what kind of people have each of you been able to ‘convert’ to a reasoning viewpoint? Has there been more success with the broadly classified, ‘religious free enterpriser’ type or the ‘personal freedom socialist’ type? The reason I ask, where is the effort to sell reason best rewarded.

  • madmax

    “Has there been more success with the broadly classified, ‘religious free enterpriser’ type or the ‘personal freedom socialist’ type?”

    I haven’t had success reaching either but it never ceases to amaze me that the more secular a person is today, the more leftist they are generally. It seems that the only people outside of Objectivists and some libertarians who defend free markets to any extent are the religious. And usually what I see is that these types are a mix of religion and Classical Liberalism. I have three atheist friends. They are all extreme welfare-statists which is depressing as they are generally good people but very, very leftist and they all think Ayn Rand is crazy. There is no reaching them.

  • Mike N

    “…where is the effort to sell reason best rewarded.”
    I would concentrate on the young, say those under 30. They are still forming the general principles according to which they will live the rest of their lives. They are usually open to new fundamental ideas whereas older folk are pretty much set in their world views.

    FWIW, when I post an essay on my blog, I try to use, in my title or first paragraph, words that are popular in the press, that is, words a student would use if doing a google search for research purposes. What this often does is put my blog in the top ten listings of current topics even if their number is in the millions. That’s what I want, students to read their subject of interest from an objectivist perspective.

    I recently gave a copy of the Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged to a 14 yr old neice who loves to read. There are other ways to focus on the young as well.

    Hope that helps in some way.

  • Mike N

    Oopps, I almost forgot. I also donated a one year subscription to the Objective Standard to the library of a local community college. I really felt good about it too.

    Also, I can’t think of a better way to spend part of whatever stimulus check you get. Stimulate Objectivism with it! Go you!