Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Does Obama Means to Succeed Where FDR Failed?

And if he does, will history be as kind to him as it has been to FDR? The question is prompted by Charles Kesler’s fine (and short) essay introducing the new issue of The Claremont Review of Books. In it, Kesler notes that:

FDR wanted to save capitalism from itself, and he exploited so masterfully all the ambiguities in that objective that thoughtful people can be found, even today, who think he succeeded. They tend to forget that he changed not only capitalism but constitutionalism, and the latter unambiguously for the worse. They tend to overlook, too, that the relatively benign reform era they like to celebrate, the New Deal of public works projects and Social Security, is the New Deal stripped of its more corporatist, or to put it less kindly, fascist elements like the National Industrial Recovery Act. It was the unreformed Supreme Court’s "horse-and-buggy" constitutionalism that saved the country from that ugly experiment, and thus allowed future generations to praise FDR’s moderation. (emphasis added)
In other words, FDR’s failures may have just as much to do with perceived success as do his outright victories. Had it not been for the effective buggy whip of the Supreme Court, the "New Deal" might be viewed today with much less rosy goggles. Will Obama’s new Supreme Court pick help in the short run and hurt him in the long run? Or are there enough "horse-and-buggy" constitutionalists left on today’s somewhat reformed Supreme Court to keep Obama in check?

Discussions - 7 Comments


Kesler chides Obama for marketing state expansion under the cover of a fear-rhetoric of the failure of capitalism. Cheney does the same with terrorism. Both traffic in the tele-presence of fear, the terminal american citizen, the permanent-terrorized subject. We have nothing to fear but fear-ism itself.In early centuries it was called superstition. Today it is the implacable weight of hyper-media. Today fear is the sole content of the political.

The impact of the SCOTUS decision is ambiguous. Even though the court effectively struck down NIRA, Congress would probably not have re-authorized it anyway.

Stert, nonsense. Cheney is defending himelf and Bush policies because he has been a target of the left and there are calls to prosecute/persecute him over the issues he is explaining. By the looks of things at the moment, he has made a sufficient and suitable defense in the press so he will not have to defend himself in a court. He may be reminding us all of our own fears in 2001, as people like Nancy Pelosi seem to forget. Whether those were and are outsized or reasonable fears still depend on events.

Obama's policies scare me more than our economic situtation. I am not the only one. I know. That's just the Fed. and Obama ought not have influenece there, but of course he does and causing inflation is a way to shrink the massive national debt caused by the stimulus package. Then there is this today about the auto industry and then this about banks, which ought to be good news, but givenObama's rhetoric, the banks might get clobbered in the press for making any profit in hard economic times. They've got a lot of nerve to even try.

"Does Obama mean to succeed...?" I don't know if it is more worrying that he means to succeed or that these things are all accidental, mere responses that look like a good idea at the moment, never mind the consequences. The only cheery thing I have seen on the Internet this morning is Art Deco's last line.

The right-wing wants horse-and-buggy constitutionalists, just like they want horse-and-buggy scientists, horse-and-buggy marraiges, horse-and-buggy good guys and bad guys. They want an amish barn-raising, for pete's sake.

Poor choice of words considering the current regime's stance on the internal combustion engine. What makes you think that the world is any different today than it was 50 years ago in rerards to the outcomes of tyranny and socialism? The idea of having a ruling document was so that laws could not get made on whims (patriot act/cap and trade). Democracy is a joke, it is the most tyranical form of government because it allows the rulers to hide behind their puppets/actors.

Obama and his left-wing buddies want camel-and-dishrag justices who know more about sharia law than the Constitution.

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