Obama, FDR And Robert Gibbs

Posted by | August 12, 2010 13:06 | Filed under: Top Stories

by Stuart Shapiro

There has been much hand-wringing in the liberal blogosphere over the past couple of days over Robert Gibbs’ blasting of the “professional left.”  Much of this has been a rehashing of debates that have been going on since Obama refused to take over the banks early in his term.  However, Puakev at Kos has a fascinating post comparing liberal criticism of Obama with that of FDR in his first term.  Money quote:

In fact, it’s pretty remarkable how closely the attacks Roosevelt experienced from his left echo the attacks that liberals make against Obama today.  There was criticism of Roosevelt for being too close to Wall Street, criticism of the New Deal’s pragmatism and non-ideological approach, criticism of the New Deal for not going nearly far enough, criticism of the New Deal and Roosevelt as preferring conservatism to liberalism, and so on.

This doesn’t mean that Gibbs was astute politically for calling out the left.  I don’t see this as a “Sister Souljah moment” because the possible gain for Obama is minimal.  And Obama doesn’t want the left too pissed off; he needs them to keep advocating for their policies to balance moderate Democrats.  However, while it may have been politically stupid, that doesn’t mean it was wrong.  The left has their best president in forty years, and hopefully they realize it behind all the angry rhetoric.  One more quote from Puakev.

I also want to make clear, I’m not using this to take sides in the piefights that have been going on around here.  I also want to make clear that I am not trying to say that Obama is just like FDR.  But, as Mark Twain once said, history doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes.  In other words, history is a useful guidepost by which to give some perspective about current events.  I’m just asking you all to look at today’s events in a different light with historical context in mind.  That is all.

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Copyright 2010 Liberaland
By: Stuart Shapiro

Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy
program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers
University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies
regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels.
Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office
of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and
George W. Bush.

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