Obama’s Original Sin

In November 2008, as a financial mudslide that had slowly been accelerating for months accumulated increasingly persuasive comparisons to the collapse that triggered the Great Depression in 1929, Time magazine ran a cover showing Barack Obama’s smiling face inserted in place of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s. The soon-to-be forty-fourth president sits in the thirty-second’s open-topped car, wearing Roosevelt’s lucky campaign hat, his grin gripping Roosevelt’s trademark long cigarette-holder. The image suggested Obama, the president-elect who promised hope and change, could follow in his Democratic predecessor’s footsteps. Roosevelt met economic crisis with massive public works programs that gave the dignity of employment to millions of Americans, and—more importantly in that era of rising fascism—helped restore their faith in the U.S. government’s ability to meet their needs.

Boston Review