You'll Need FDR's Optimism to Save Us, Obama

Obama needs to emulate Roosevelt's optimism in the face of deep crisis
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 18, 2008 8:16 AM CST

(Newser) – Barack Obama keeps saying he wants to emulate Abraham Lincoln but he’s lucky that he more closely resembles Franklin D. Roosevelt, Richard Cohen writes in the Washington Post. Lincoln faced the massive challenge of reuniting the Union but knew just how to do it, while FDR, like Obama, confronted an economic crisis that stumped all the experts.

FDR didn't even solve the Great Depression, Cohen argues—it took Pearl Harbor to achieve that—but his enthusiasm and willingness to try anything was what counted. Similarly, Obama’s America is worried sick and has run out of optimism, and Cohen concludes that of all the president-elect's considerable skills, his ability to summon FDR's "optimism, that capacity for empathy" could be the one that counts the most in this crisis.