Monday, November 17, 2008

What the Hoover/FDR Transition Can Teach Us

Dan Balz fascinates with this review of the history not just of FDR's New Deal but also of the transition between Hoover and Roosevelt (which was longer since at that time the new president didn't take office until March).

Roosevelt is remembered best for the flurry of action that marked his first 100 days in office, but what transpired between his election and inauguration was equally fateful. How the next president-elect interprets that history could have a profound effect on his entire presidency.

In the fall of 1932, the country was beginning to experience faint signs of recovery. But the election and the transition seemed to stop it in its tracks. Herbert Hoover lacked the standing to rally the country. Roosevelt wanted no part of his predecessor's legacy and stood apart. From November to March, when Roosevelt was finally sworn in, the country entered a period of drift and demoralization. By the time Roosevelt took office, he faced a full-blown crisis.

Whether things would have been different by Inauguration Day and beyond had Roosevelt cooperated with Hoover is not knowable. But Obama or McCain will be faced with a similar decision about how to approach the transition.


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