Of all the presidents on this list, the most PE Obama could learn from is Franklin Roosevelt. Not just on what Roosevelt did, but what the programs of the New Deal did and did not do. Obama already seems to have the communication through the media thing down, so on to other things.
The Three R’s of FDR
1. The First New Deal was aimed at Recovery and Relief.
2. The Second New Deal was aimed at Reform.
Unfortunately for Obama, the nation cannot afford 2 plans – everything has to be in one plan. That would be one hell of a plan. If you sit and think about what all is wrong with the economy, the budget, and the nation, one program can not hope to solve it all. Looking back at FDR’s New Deal, the problems were far greater: overproduction, foreign competition, and unstable credit catapulted the nation into record unemployment. Now here’s the difference – Obama comes in 4 months into the crisis. FDR came in 4 years into the future. Almost every government organization from 1933-1936 tried to put band-aids on bleeders. I don’t care how pragmatic a President may be (and FDR was quite the pragmatist), Obama cannot afford to be pragmatic at all. The problems are just too numerous. And I don’t know if throwing money at the problem is going to work. Our economy is so out of whack, that regulation, jobs creation, and reform are just not going to cut. We need a new economy. FDR had to wait until World War II to create that economy and it did do the trick. Unfortunately, the circumstances were not what he had wished.
Obama must reinvent the economy. If he cannot, then the lessons of FDR will be useless. Obama has to start a fundamental shift in how we do things, what things we do, and why we do things. Stop me if you have heard this one before: energy, transportation, communication, and information systems. While FDR stopped short of doing all those things until the war, Obama has to hit the ground running. All this and reforming the credit industry have to be done. Yikes! If you were to ask Thomas Friedman, he would say, “Green is the new Red, White, and Blue”. However, he is not that far off. To restructure our automobile industry, our energy systems, and infrastructure along with modernizing several other things will revitalize the economy along with set us u to succeed and to end a lot of our foreign policy problems save Israel (that’s a whole other blog).
Now, the New Deal and the economy were not the only things on the plate of FDR. Foreign Affairs dominated the second half. The biggest lesson here is you need to find your “Winston”. To try and tackle the world’s problems with “Cowboy” Diplomacy has not worked in the last 8 years. What needs to work is for you to set about some goals and aims like the Atlantic Charter with your “Winston” and then go out and do it. Now, I don’t believe that Joe Biden is your “Winston” nor is the current PM of Great Britain or the leaders of the free world, or for that matter, Putin, but there has to be someone out there with whom you can help build a better world.
Other Presidential Lessons for Obama Series
John F. Kennedy
George H.W. Bush