FDR, Reagan, and Obama

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the New York Times

FDR, Reagan, and Obama

Some readers may recall that back during the Democratic primary Barack Obama shocked many progressives by praising Ronald Reagan as someone who brought America a "sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing." I was among those who found this deeply troubling - because the idea that Reagan brought a transfomation in American dynamism is a right-wing myth, not borne out by the facts. (There was a surge in productivity and innovation - but it happened in the 90s, under Clinton, not under Reagan).

All the usual suspects pooh-poohed these concerns; it was ridiculous, they said, to think of Obama as a captive of right-wing mythology.

But are you so sure about that now?

And here's this, from Thomas Ferguson: Obama saying

We didn't actually, I think, do what Franklin Delano Roosevelt did, which was basically wait for six months until the thing had gotten so bad that it became an easier sell politically because we thought that was irresponsible. We had to act quickly.

As Ferguson explains, this is a right-wing smear. What actually happened was that during the interregnum between the 1932 election and the1933 inauguration - which was much longer then, because the inauguration didn't take place until March - Herbert Hoover tried to rope FDR into maintaining his policies, including rigid adherence to the gold standard and fiscal austerity. FDR declined to be part of this.

But Obama buys the right-wing smear.

More and more, it's becoming clear that progressives who had their hearts set on Obama were engaged in a huge act of self-delusion. Once you got past the soaring rhetoric you noticed, if you actually paid attention to what he said, that he largely accepted the conservative storyline, a view of the world, including a mythological history, that bears little resemblance to the facts.

And confronted with a situation utterly at odds with that storyline ... he stayed with the myth.

Paul Krugman

Paul Krugman is professor of Economics and International Affairs at Princeton University and a regular columnist for The New York Times. Krugman was the 2008 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economics. He is the author of numerous books, including The Conscience of A Liberal, The Return of Depression Economics, and his most recent, End This Depression Now!.

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