Tuesday, March 04, 2008

A Head of State for Hard Times

Seventy-five years ago today, Franklin D. Roosevelt took office to end a Depression and face an oncoming war. Now, voters are choosing a President to resolve a war and stave off a Depression.

In these hard times, Americans will take their chances on the first woman or African-American or the oldest president ever. Back then, they were relying on the first Chief Executive who could stand only with braces on his legs and spent most of his time in a wheel chair.

"We have nothing to fear but fear itself," FDR said in his inaugural address on March 4, 1933, but that night, two million Americans were homeless and banks in 32 states closed and could not reopen the next morning.

Compared to then, the choice now is less daunting, but it nonetheless marks another turning point in how the country is to be governed and who will lead the way and set the tone.

Roosevelt, despite his infirmity, brought energy and hope to the White House and changed the direction of American politics for half a century. Nothing that momentous may happen in this election, but after eight years of disastrous leadership, something important is at stake again.

Tonight, we will get a clearer idea of who will be entrusted with the job of leading us through the first hard times of this century.

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