Historical Resonances, 1932 to 2008

By November 17, 2008Economy

Just judging from the thumbnail, it appeared the cover of the latest Time might have omitted the cigarette and cigarette holder from the FDR-Obama homage, reminding one of the airbrushing that went on with the Postal Service and stamps devoted to James Dean and Bette Davis.

But in fact, the magazine did include the jaunty cigarette prop in its Obama cover (always use the term “jaunty”), making the allusion smarter and, well, pretty good. (And causing us to pull down an earlier, erroneous Shopfloor.org post that was maybe up for 30 seconds or so.)

Still, after seeing the cover and listening to some of the “60 Minutes” interview from last night, we wonder whether there’s just too, too much straining to compare our current economic straits to the Great Depression of, oh, 1932, right before FDR took office.

In 1932, unemployment topped 23 percent, international trade had fallen by two-thirds since 1929, industrial stocks had lost 80 percent of their value, and 10,000 banks had closed.

It almost seems that some among the comfortable, affluent, protected-by-America members of the journalistic and political classes yearn for a Great Depression II as their moment of historical consequence. For all the very serious financial difficulties faced today, they pale to the turmoil and personal suffering of ’32.

(Hat tip: Jonah Goldberg, NRO.)

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