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Commenter Donal Slovin splashes some cool water on the FDR comparison:

This speech by FDR, obviously quite stirring, is frequently cited these days. As a caveat, it is worth noting a couple of points. First, the speech was given, at least in part, because of FDR's fear of being outflanked by populists of the Huey Long type, not necessarily because he intended to take much action against Wall Street at that point. Secondly, FDR overestimated popular backing for the kind of activism implied by the speech and, in effect, real reform effectively died in the second FDR administration. Alan Brinkley's lucid history of this period is, in fact, entitled "The End of Reform."

By Ezra Klein  |  April 22, 2010; 2:31 PM ET
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Good old Ezra. I would settle for an FDR-like president who actually engaged in real financial reform for 5-6 years before abandoning it in his second administration, rather than a president who hasn't significantly attempted it. That's the point of the comparison, which you would apparently like to obfuscate. A disingenuous post.

Posted by: redscott | April 22, 2010 3:11 PM | Report abuse

The Huffington Post is actually running with this very comparison, in order to imply that Obama is in bed with the banks and that he should have emulated FDR instead. The history above provides some interesting context though. That said, the only history the Huffington Post is up on lately is the history of Heidi Montag's implants.

Posted by: vvf2 | April 22, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Hadn't Huey Long been dead for more than a year at the time of Madison Garden speech? I can't really imagine anyone else of his caliber that FDR would have had to fret about.

Were their any other populists of the Long-type who wielded the King Fish's influence, or his ability to worry the Roosevelt Administration (at that historical moment)?

Posted by: IrvingHarrington | April 22, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse

I actually agree with Ezra on this and wish that Obama would take on a more assertive stance. I just wanted to clarify the history a bit, since the speech is often taken out of context. And, yes, Huey Long himself was dead by the time of the speech, but there were indeed others. Politicians often worry about being outflanked.

Posted by: donaldslovin | April 22, 2010 4:42 PM | Report abuse

What redscott said. The 1933-34 reforms had already established a financial sector that was far more regulated than today's.

Obama doesn't have to do 1936 FDR. He just has to do 1933. Where is WilliamO when you need him?

Posted by: Dollared | April 22, 2010 8:33 PM | Report abuse

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