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100 Days in the Footsteps of F.D.R. and L.B.J.

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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 03:33 PM
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100 Days in the Footsteps of F.D.R. and L.B.J.
100 Days in the Footsteps of F.D.R. and L.B.J.

By SAM TANENHAUS
Published: May 2, 2009


In American politics, the symbolic and the concrete are seldom far apart. Consider the fanfare surrounding President Barack Obamas 100th day in office.

On the surface it seemed a classic instance of what the historian Daniel Boorstin once described as a pseudo-event, an exercise in public relations masquerading as news. The celebration is held, photographs are taken, the occasion is widely reported, Mr. Boorstin wrote of such staged episodes.

The Obama administration itself took an equally jaundiced view at first. Robert Gibbs, Mr. Obamas press secretary, promised that the 100th day, which fell on Wednesday, would be not a ton different than the 99th. David Axelrod, a senior adviser to the president, called the milestone a Hallmark holiday.

But in the end the administration seized the moment, arranging a town-hall meeting for the president in a Missouri high school gym and then a prime-time news conference in Washington.

Yet buoyant displays of this kind serve a civic function. Many of the re-examinations of the most celebrated of 100-day periods, Franklin D. Roosevelts in 1933, have noted that Americans felt better because they liked Roosevelt himself, even if they couldnt be sure his policies would actually work.

The same appears to be true of Mr. Obama. His strong approval ratings seem to reflect hope in him at a time when the economic news continues to be bad.

In his news conference, Mr. Obama subtly emphasized the link with Roosevelt. His vow to build a new foundation for growth on the ruins of Americas collapsed banking and credit system, echoed Roosevelts promise of a New Deal for the American people.

In concrete terms Mr. Obamas indebtedness to Roosevelts approach is just as direct. His decision to assert regulatory control over an anarchic marketplace parallels Roosevelts bold interventions. And Mr. Obamas denunciations of investors who declined to back Chrysler rang with the same scorn Roosevelt heaped on the sinister money changers he blamed for the Great Depression.

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http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/03/weekinreview/03tanenh...
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HopeOverFear Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 07:53 PM
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