Sunday, March 28, 2010

President Obama Now Looks and Acts like FDR

Earl Ofari Hutchinson

The comparison of then Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama to Franklin Delano Roosevelt at the height of the presidential campaign was hyped, overblown and made mostly to sell magazines, puff up TV pundit sound bites, and by a few carried away with themselves Democratic party campaign boosters. Though undoubtedly flattered by it, candidate Obama did not encourage the comparison to FDR.
This writer as countless others the first months after inauguration did more than just hope that President Obama would inch toward looking and acting like FDR. We relentlessly pushed, prodded, and hectored him to lurch in that direction. There were many days of bitter frustration and disappointment, punctuated by loud grumbling of betrayal.

Obama as FDR knew that he was in a political life and death, take no prisoners war with his political enemies-- the GOP, ultra conservative Democrats, Wall Street, the big bankers and big manufacturers. But unlike FDR for months he soft peddled, coddled, and placated his opponents even as they made absolutely no effort to mask their loath of his policies and presidency, and made it abundantly clear they will stop at nothing to hound him from office. FDR, by contrast, hit back hard at his enemies as obstructionists and economic royalists. He never wavered from his commitment that the workers and farmers, the “common man” came first.
Now President Obama has done the same. His in the trenches fight back started when he admitted what everyone knew and that’s that making nice with the GOP and making futile appeals to them for bi-partisanship sounds good in White House interviews and Congressional speeches but in the ruthless party eat party world of real politick it’s a surefire prescription for an ineffectual, moribund, and hapless presidency, not to mention ridicule as a president sans spine.

In quick succession he’s rammed through a drastically retooled consumer friendly health care reform law that looks nothing like the pharmaceutical and private health insurer goody laden bill of six months ago and with the added FDR touch of beating back the furious lobbying by banks and private lenders to keep their profit first fingers in student lending, and making the government the lender of first resort for student loans. He added millions to back it up, with a special nod toward expanding aid to strapped historically black colleges.
A tweak of the financial reform package that takes a strong first step toward reining in the orgy of Wall Street freeboot speculation, trading, swaps, and scams of investors, borrowers and the government that nearly wrecked the economy. Though the much needed independent consumer agency with full power to oversee and regulate lending practices in the financial reform bill didn’t happen. The new agency will not be under the direct grip of the Fed which would kill any regulation that was perceived as Wall Street and Big Bank unfriendly. Obama has also endorsed enactment of a modified version of the Glass-Steagall act. That’s the tough FDR era bank regulation act.

The watered down and grossly underfunded Senate jobs bill won’t do much to dent the near double digit unemployment. But Obama has strongly signaled that he’ll plough stimulus dollars directly into government run job training programs, job banks, and public works projects. The other FDR touch is to virtually order the banks to lend more to distressed homeowners cut borrowing rates, and terms, and promise more aggressive government intervention to aid strapped endangered homeowners. These are the programs that will do much to help the working class, and the minority poor. It makes the screech that he push a black agenda seem even more silly, ridiculous and self-serving.
Obama ignored the squeals of the GOP obstructionists with appointments to judgeships. And a slew of recess appointments of top flight sensitive, moderate, first class scholars and professionals to diplomatic, commerce, and labor regulatory board posts.
He drew the ire of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by holding firm on his demand to halt renewed Israeli settler expansion in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
On a personal and humane note, Obama magnificent gesture of donating every penny of his 1.4 million dollar Nobel Peace Prize award to solid charities and community help organizations and causes. The Big Bank and Wall Street greed merchants could learn a lesson from this example: fat chance of that.

FDR did not substitute rock star photo op, stagey, high profile media posturing for tough leadership. When the GOP and the press wrote the epitaph for him midway through his second term in 1938 he continued to swing away. FDR took to the airwaves and hit the road to blast the economic royalists and the obstructionist judges and those in congress to his reform program.
In the final stages of the healthcare reform fight and its immediate aftermath, Obama snatched a page directly from FDR and mobilized millions of Americans to fight for real reform. As long as he continues to do that he’ll continue to look and act like FDR.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His nationally heard talk show is on KTYM-AM 1460 AM Los Angeles, Fridays 9:30 AM and KPFK Pacifica Radio 90.7 Los Angeles, Saturdays Noon PST.


Bob Bryan said...

Earl Ofari Hutchinson here is the first review of GV11 DON'T BELIEVE THA NOIZE: Voices of tha Hip-Hop Undaground (Part 1) -which you are featured in.

Plz send me yr regular email addy so that I can send you a online downloadable link to view GV11 (it's a small file that can be downloaded to yr iPhone, Blackberry etc.).

Of course once the actual DVDs are done, you will receive a copy as promised, but for right now ...

Thanks for yr patience in waiting for GV11 (Part 1) to get "out there.".


Account Executive

I finally watched it! Thank you for asking me to review it; it was definitely my pleasure!
"GV11 DON'T BELIEVE DA NOIZE: Voices from Da Hip-Hop Undaground (Part 1)" would keep any true, hard-core "Hip-Hopper" engrossed. Flooded with amazing visual urban art, narrated by lovers and experts of the genre itself, and backed-up by a diverse soundtrack of music, it takes an in-depth look at the growth and development of Hip-Hop culture from its conception to the present state.

Contributors such as Alan Sitomer (whose work from the book "Hip-Hop Poetry and the Classics" I've included in some of the workshops I've taught), the amazing directors/producers Michael Deet and Shawnelle & Shawnee Gibbs, as well as "Distorted Urban Realism" visual artist Justin Bua, show viewers that Hip-Hop is more than lyrics to a beat: it's a movement, it's a tool for learning, it's a vast art-form that spans race, gender, and smashes language barriers.

As a lyricist/poet myself, I was thrilled to hear spoken-word mentioned as a forefather of Hip-Hop as we know it today, referencing The Last Poets as well as my friend Sekou the Misfitt. Its inclusion of Latin, Native American, Asian, White, and Caribbean M.C.s showcases the international/intercultural flava Hip-Hop is infused with.

GV11 is a timely film that needs to be shown to anyone who believes the mainstream 'noize' is the only voice of Hip-Hop. GV11 proves that there is more to be heard, seen, and felt."
-- Shanelle Gabriel, Singer/ Lyricist/ HBO DEF POET
Visit for show schedule, blog, music, and videos.

A Blend of Music and Spoken-Word Poetry
Available on, iTunes and

Anonymous said...

FDR's programs were responses to the Great Depression, and focused on what historians call the 3 Rs:
1. relief,
2. recovery and
3. reform. i.e.

1.relief for the unemployed and poor,
2. recovery of the economy to normal levels, and
3.reform of the financial system to prevent a repeat depression.

As you pointed out, Obama seems to be following FDR straight out of the Mew Deal textbook.

Even the opposition is reacting similarly, as if sun spots have something to do with it.

In my early career, I enjoyed reading "CYCLES" a journal devoted to tracking correlations between events that you wouldn't dream of being related.

What wet my interest then was an article on sunspots and its effects on hog prices or pork bellies.

Sad to say the journal no longer exist. One reason is that modern day statistics simply won't allow such work - especially if you are employed at any US corporation.

I enjoyed the articles from "CYCLES", took most as entertainment then, but wish now that the journal was around now.

The effects of sun spots on world populations would certainly be discussed today - if "Cycles" was back.

In the meantime, I found a link that you and your readers may enjoy instead:

The Great Depression, is history repeating itself? A historical perspective

Anonymous said...

We know that "dice" have no memory, but all believe that the "seven" will eventually come.
Based on probability theory.

Which brings up a Russian Economist that looked at events and numbers and came up with his theory about how our system and similar systems work.

First about the Russian
then his

I promise that this will be the last scariest stuff I intend to bring to you - at least for a while.