I just completed Amity Shlaes’s The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression and expect I’ll offer a more complete review as some later date, but for now will offer a more concise review:Â Read this book as it shows the many parallels between the actions of President Obama and his predecessor in the 1930s.Â Obama, like Franklin Roosevelt, seems to be temporizing in response to the economic meltdown of his day.Â Both men borrowed the rhetoric of class warfare and seemed indifferent, if not hostile, to private enterprise.
At the same time that the book points to FDR’s failure to revive the faltering economy of the 1930s, it shows the roots of his later success in leading the nation to victory against the Nazis.Â Even as Americans were isolationist, Roosevelt understood the imperative of international engagement.
While troubled by the “godlessness” of Communism, in 1933, “he ended a sixteen-year U.S. policy toward Russia, and recognized the Soviet Union:”
At a moment when people were still hungry, the deal seemed pragmatic–as president, Americans understood, Roosevelt had to choose the lesser evil.Â In Danzig, a port city, the Nazis that winter were tossing newspaper editors in jails; they were also taking over the courts of the Saar.Â Recognizing Russia was a way of counterbalancing the Germans.
Like Britain’s Churchill, he recognizing early on the threat Nazism posed to Western Civilization.
Much as we conservatives are eager to cite the failure of the New Deal, we must also recognize that Roosevelt was more than his economic policies.Â He ranks among the greatest of U.S. presidents for his leadership in helping the nations which would become our Allies before the American people were ready for war.Â And for his leadership once they were.
Even as he was flailing around in the 1930s, failing to find a solution to our economic woes, he was showing signs of understanding the geopolitical situation.