Monday, October 3, 2011

What did Reagan and FDR have in common?

There are some interesting points raised in this Newsweek blog post by Andrew Romano about the similarities in the Reagan and FDR styles of reconstructive politics. Just what was it about them that set them apart from the others.  Who best fits the radical mold of Reagan and FDR - and why can't we find them

"...Every reconstructive president razes the old order and forges a new one in his own way: while FDR experimented with a panoply of reforms, Reagan always stuck to a stubborn script about the causes and cures for Carter-era malaise. The important thing is that both of them blamed the crises they presided over on the failed, un-American ideology of the previous regime and relentlessly positioned their sweeping proposals as part of a grand project to undo the damage and revive real American values...
..reconstructive leaders “have never been especially adept at solving the problems that brought them into office in the first place”; both Reagan and Roosevelt failed more often than they succeeded. But the politics of reconstruction gave meaning to their victories, kept them buoyant during dry spells, and defined the opposition before the opposition could define them. The approach also assured voters that Reagan and Roosevelt shared their deep dissatisfaction with the way things were.
Both Reagan and FDR projected an undeniable sense of optimism to the weary, beat down population through their vision for America delivered in in eloquent speeches marked by home-spun character and wit.  And not to make too much of it, but they both beamed confidence and enthusiasm with their magnetic smiles.  Honest, comfortable smiles that filled up a room.  If you want to get people to follow you, the most important thing to wear is a smile.  No one wants to throw their support behind a mope or a grump or someone who seems insincere or unconfident.       

And for comparison..  These smiles don't convey quite the same sense of confidence and optimism.

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