Writing at the Hoover Institution’s Defining Ideas journal, New York University law professor Richard Epstein explains why it would be unwise for Barack Obama and his supporters to try and compare Obama’s reelection campaign with Franklin Roosevelt’s famous 1932 run for the presidency:
In 1932, Roosevelt could campaign as the outsider by attacking the record of the Republican incumbent, Herbert Hoover—who, ironically, was a progressive himself. At the Democratic National Convention, Roosevelt pledged himself “to a new deal for the American people. This is more than a political campaign. It is a call to arms.” The object of this common mission was “a more equitable opportunity to share in the distribution of national wealth.”
Today, the shoe is on the other foot, because Obama must now defend his record against an assault that will become more pointed now that Congressman Paul Ryan has become Mitt Romney’s running mate. No longer can Obama plead for his team to be given a chance to implement an agenda of hope and change. Instead, he must argue that his old team needs four more years to implement a program that has generated so many dashed expectations over the last four years. It will be more difficult for Obama to play defense in 2012 than it was for FDR to play offense in 1932. But that switch in roles is not likely to change Obama’s game plan.
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