The 1930’s was a time of crisis and according to those on the left that wish to draw comparisons, the danger was met and mastered by people who offered a New Deal and saved everything. Anything that doesn’t fit neatly into that narrative becomes a nuisance and is ridiculed as mere nonsense.
Lately I have heard people from both sides of the political spectrum making these comparisons, but for entirely opposite reasons. The problem is that the facts in no way support the story. Ignored is that fact that the 1930s were much tougher than anything any of us have had to experience recently. To suggest that what we have gone through in the past year and half even rises to such a standard of misery is an insult to the memory of those who endured so much hardship.
The only way the “this is like that” card can be played is if “this” bears at least some resemblance to “that.” Can anyone seriously suggest that what our nation has been experiencing since around November of 2008 at all compares to bread lines, soup kitchens, unemployment rates fixed for years around 20%, and more than 9,000 banks failing? A little more than 200 banks have failed since the beginning of 2009, a rate on pace to better resemble the situation during the savings and loan crisis of the late 1980s and early 1990s—when 747 institutions went under—than the tsunami of failures during the 1930s. The plain fact is that the Great Depression was a much bigger deal than anything since.
As for the President telling us about how bad it has been. Just to what was he specifically referring? If by “the toughest year and a half since any year and a half since the 1930s” he means the geopolitical situation, I would encourage him to read any good history of World War II. That period of war and unrest was quite obviously far worse than anything we have seen in the last year and a half. Perhaps he should look at the mess Mr. Truman inherited and what he had to deal with, from the decision to drop the atomic bomb, to the start of the Cold War, to massive labor unrest (with millions of men and women in uniform suddenly flooding the job market), and the need to somehow help defeated nations rebuild. Mr. Obama might also note that the Man from Missouri was virtually incapable of self-pity, even in low moments of cultural ridicule and political renouncement.
It could be that President Obama was referring to our economic problems. If so, he might want to place a call to Jimmy Carter, who happened to preside over an economy where people could only buy gasoline every other day and interest rates were upwards of 18 per cent. Possibly, Mr. Carter could give some advice on how ill-advised it is for a president to complain about how bad he has it—and to make sure his speech writers have the word “malaise” blocked on their grammar-checkers.
Then again, it could be that Obama was talking about the political problems he’s having. The problem with that, though, is that he has had it pretty good for the past year and a half with a largely complicit and complimentary press. Sure, his approval ratings are down—but not like the last “year and a half” of Harry Truman’s presidency, nor those of Richard Nixon or Lyndon Johnson, not to mention the afore mentioned Jimmy Carter.
Don’t forget too, that some of his predecessors actually had to serve in the Oval Office with the other party in control of some or all of Congress. Mr. Obama’s bummer of a year and a half has played out with his party in control of virtually everything. In fact, the past year and a half has been one long power play. If his team can’t find the goal while the other team is short-handed, is it really history’s fault?
Or is it just possible that the reason comparisons are made between now and how bad it was in
One of President Obama’s problems is that he wants to be a charismatic leader—and the danger with that is that the "easy road" to that kind of appeal often requires the presence of a chronic crisis –ask “charismatic” leaders from history, like Adolf Hitler or Joseph Stalin for example. Such leaders capture the imagination of many when things are going bad. That’s why they have to keep them going bad—or at least appearing to do so.
In the final analysis, President Obama has had a lot of problems to deal with but none have been any worse than those faced by many of his predecessors --and he has had the luxury of having excellent tools at his disposal to deal with them. He would do much better in the polls if he just learned to be half as open and honest as he constantly tries to tell us he is.
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