Barack Obama’s call yesterday to “act swiftly” to address the economic crisis clearly echoed Franklin Roosevelt’s inaugural address during the Depression: “action, and action now.” But while Obama's “crisp competence” was welcome, he wasn't particularly inspirational, and, Joe Nocera writes in the New York Times, filling the shoes of FDR means not just pushing through piles of legislation but moving Americans to “draw out our best selves.”
As when FDR followed Herbert Hoover, Obama is taking the reins from an administration whose handling of the crisis has been misguided, willing to extend help to banks but reluctant to rescue foundering citizens. The minute FDR took office, he not only rushed through aggressive programs, he began his fireside chats to convince Americans of a “patriotic duty” to sacrifice and work together. During the campaign, he showed he had the capacity to bring Americans together. "Now he has to put it to good use."