Yesterday, I posted about president-elect Obama's reading habits, particularly the two previous presidents, Lincoln and FDR, whose responses to moments of national crisis he seems to many to be taking as models, as many are recommending he does. Today, we've asked a historian of one of those moments to what he thinks President Obama could learn from it. Adam Cohen is the Assistant Editorial Page Editor of the New York Times, and is also the author of a very well-timed book (he couldn't have imagined just how directly the historical parallels would be at this point!), Nothing to Fear: FDR's Inner Circle and the Hundred Days That Created Modern America, which will publish during Obama's inaugural month in January. (I wouldn't be surprised if members of his team have already acquired advance copies.) And for him the parallels between the two moments are obvious and useful. Here's the short essay he wrote for us about how Obama might use FDR's first hundred days as a model for his own:
FDR in 1933: A Model for President Obama
It seems that everywhere you look these days, the comparison is being made: Barack Obama in 2009 and Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1933.
It’s not hard to see why. Like Obama, FDR was a charismatic young Democrat running for office in troubled economic times. The banks were in crisis, unemployment was striking fear in the hearts of ordinary Americans, and many people were wondering if the economic system could be set right.
Like Obama, FDR campaigned on a platform of change, and rode the hopes of the nation to a landslide victory, ending years of Republican dominance in Washington. Also like Obama, he swept a heavily Democratic Senate and House of Representatives into office with him.