Monday, March 9, 2009

this is not 1933

it may come as a shock to some people, but this is not 1933. president obama is not facing the same situation that faced president roosevelt in that year. 2009 is, in many respects, a more formidable challenge than roosevelt faced.

some have made comparisons between bush and hoover for their presiding over economic meltdowns, but that comparison falls short. herbert hoover had only been in office for six months when the free fall began, whereas george bush had been at the helm for six and half years when the present downturn began in the fall of 2007. the downturn became a free fall as the election played out.

roosevelt had the luxury of picking up the pieces after everything had completely fallen apart. obama is faced with the daunting task of trying to halt the downward momentum, before being able to effect an economic rebound. i see some justification in applying the principles of basic physics, economic ergonomics, if you will. it is much more difficult to reverse momentum than to overcome inertia.

obama has taken office amid tremendous expectations, which, given the debacle of the bush administration, is quite understandable. the temptation is great to expect too much, too soon. we are at a unique moment in our history. we face challenges unlike those faced by any other generation. the challenges we face are unlike, not greater than, but unlike, anything that has ever come before. we must temper our expectations and remember that, regardless of how much the president may pattern policy responses after franklin roosevelt, this in not 1933.

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