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Roosevelt talk on unstable economy oddly prescient

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[October 01, 2008]  ATLANTA, Ga. (AP) -- The "mirage" of American economic invulnerability has vanished, along with "much of the savings of thrifty and prudent men and women," the presidential hopeful told the crowd.

"We need to correct, by drastic means if necessary, the faults in our economic system from which we now suffer," he said.

DonutsThose words could have come from John McCain or Barack Obama this week, but they were spoken to the graduating class of Atlanta's Oglethorpe University by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the Democrat who went on to win the 1932 election three years into the Great Depression.

His comments -- which ring eerily true to Americans this week -- are contained in the original May 22, 1932, speech typed in blue ink and signed by Roosevelt that Oglethorpe plans to display starting Friday.

Roosevelt biographer Doris Kearns Goodwin says Roosevelt understood the importance of making citizens feel their leaders were handling the situation.

"He just understood that action was critical," she said. "You just have to make people feel that they are taking hold of the situation."


Roosevelt said circumstances that were entirely avoidable led to 1929's infamous "Black Friday," the stock market crash that finally shattered the myth of an invincible U.S. economy.

"We have not been brought to our present state by any natural calamity -- by drought or floods or earthquakes or by the destruction of our productive machine or our man power," Roosevelt told the crowd. "This is the awful paradox with which we are confronted, a stinging rebuke that challenges our power to operate the economic machine which we have created."

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Many of today's issues were around then, including war, globalization and the falling value of the American dollar. And so Roosevelt cautioned against the danger of inaction, a warning also echoed this week in Washington.

"The country needs and -- unless I mistake its temper -- the country demands bold, persistent experimentation," he said before delivering one of his most-often quoted lines: "It is common sense to take a method and try it: If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something."


On the Net:

Oglethorpe University: http://www.oglethorpe.edu/

[Associated Press; By ERRIN HAINES]

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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