I just received a press note from the Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt Institute encouraging me to watch and listen to the comparison above of Barack Obama’s rhetoric and that of Franklin Roosevelt. I did.
There are many lines that can be reached for and compared to the lofty rhetoric of many of America’s past leaders — but I thought Obama’s speech was conservative in tone, careful, overly cautious perhaps. He called on Americans to prepare for troubled times and to work together. But I felt when I heard it that Obama’s was a Hoover-style speech, not a Rooseveltian address.
Herbert Hoover promoted caution, thrift, sacrifice. . .Roosevelt set a vision and horizon for Americans to reach beyond their challenged circumstance.
Even Bill Kristol found the Obama address one that resonated with themes in Roosevelt’s rhetoric — both drawing on Thomas Paine.
I have high hopes for Obama — but the country is coming apart economically — and this is a time to work hard but also to reorganize and generate a new national vision.
I’m glad others see vision where I missed it in Obama’s national address.
— Steve Clemons