After the excitement of Election Night, and the satisfaction of seeing this morning’s headlines, more sobering thoughts are beginning to push their way into my mind.

What a daunting prospect the winner now faces.  So many problems to deal with, the mind boggles. But we know the tumbling economy is what drove many undecided voters to Obama’s side. That crisis, in all its many aspects, will have to be his very first priority after he takes office. Even at this moment, he is assembling the team that will advise him on this most crucial of problems.  

I think Barack Obama will have to launch the equivalent of the Manhattan Project on restoring the economy. If he can bring the best minds together to work out solutions that are not only long-term practical but also acceptable on both sides of the aisle in Congress, he will have pulled off a miracle.

No matter what, recovery won’t happen overnight. Yes, Obama may well need two terms to do it, or even just to get the process well underway; that’s how dire things are.

But as I said to my husband last night, Franklin D. Roosevelt needed three terms and a world war to end the Great Depression. And he had no easy time of it, either.

Roosevelt had powerful Republican opponents who simply despised him, who called him not only a socialist but also “a traitor to his class.” They slandered not only him but his wife, too, making racist jokes about  Eleanor Roosevelt’s homely appearance. They sneered at FDR as “a cripple.”

FDR’s great advantage was that in such desperate times, he had the people’s mandate to try anything that might possibly work. Some things (Social Security, FDIC) worked for the long term, and some (NRA, the court pack) did not.

There were reasons that ordinary people, those folks standing in the soup lines, regarded FDR as a savior. And it wasn’t his long experience in elective office, though he had that too.

He gave them hope. He connected emotionally with them. He had overcome great obstacles in his own life, and he made them believe that if he and his constituents worked together, the nation also could overcome.

Obama reminds some of Kennedy, and with his youth, wit, charisma and intelligence, that’s understandable. But I believe it’s not JFK he needs to channel right now.

It’s Franklin Roosevelt: another witty, charismatic and cannily intelligent leader, and one who came through somehow, against all odds, during a most extraordinary time.

Advertisements