Monday, October 20, 2008

This Is What a Leader Sounds Like

Following Sarah Vowell's example, I have started reading FDR's Fireside Chats. And, I have to say, these are really going to piss me off. Apparently there was a time when Presidents spoke to the public in an open, lucid, intelligent way (see below). That time has passed.

Now, I know we can't force our presidents to have polio, but perhaps candidates can be confined to a wheelchair from the moment they declare their candidacy. This will hopefully have three effects:
1. Reduce the length of campaigns.
2. Imbue presidential hopefuls with the FDR spirit.
3. Allow failed candidates to "make a stand" when they end their bids by publicly standing.

Later this week, I will detail my plan for replacing the last debate (though it was far superior to the 1st two) with each candidate going through a Yalta reenactment -- a hard drinking summit with the Russian and British heads of state.

Now for some FDR tidbits:

I want to talk for a few minutes with the people of the United States about banking -- with the comparatively few who understand the mechanics of banking but more particularly with the overwhelming majority who use banks for the making of deposits and the drawing of checks. I want to tell you what has been done in the last few days, why it was done, and what the next steps are going to be. I recognize that the many proclamations from State Capitols and from Washington, the legislation, the Treasury regulations, etc., couched for the most part in banking and legal terms should be explained for the benefit of the average citizen. I owe this in particular because of the fortitude and good temper with which everybody has accepted the inconvenience and hardships of the banking holiday. I know that when you understand what we in Washington have been about I shall continue to have your cooperation as fully as I have had your sympathy and help during the past week.
I do not promise you that every bank will be reopened or that individual losses will not be suffered, but there will be no losses that possibly could be avoided; and there would have been more and greater losses had we continued to drift. I can even promise you salvation for some at least of the sorely pressed banks. We shall be engaged not merely in reopening sound banks but in the creation of sound banks through reorganization. It has been wonderful to me to catch the note of confidence from all over the country. I can never be sufficiently grateful to the people for the loyal support they have given me in their acceptance of the judgment that has dictated our course, even though all of our processes may not have seemed clear to them.

After all there is an element in the readjustment of our financial system more important than currency, more important than gold, and that is the confidence of the people. Confidence and courage are the essentials of success in carrying out our plan. You people must have faith; you must not be stampeded by rumors or guesses. Let us unite in banishing fear. We have provided the machinery to restore our financial system; it is up to you to support and make it work.

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