FROM the start there have been similarities between Barack Obama and Franklin D Roosevelt. The eloquence, for instance. Fine oratory is a declining political art but when displayed at its best it creates a wonderfully uplifting sense of hope - which Roosevelt deployed to great effect, most memorably in his “The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself” speech as he launched his New Deal programme of economic recovery in 1933. Another similarity between these two men, separated by seventy years and totally different backgrounds, is the speed with which they have gone to work after election. Over the weekend Obama described the recovery programme he is already shaping with Congressional leaders so that it can be approved and set into motion as soon as possible after his inauguration on January 20. The sweep and content of this programme is strikingly reminiscent of Roosevelt's New Deal which put millions of unemployed American workers back into jobs. Obama spoke of “the largest infrastructural programme in roads and bridges and other traditional infrastructure since the building of the federal highway system in the 1950s” but also explained that 100 billion dollars would be invested in “green-jobs” in alternative fuels, windmills and solar panels and energy-efficient appliances. And in a show of irritation at how far behind America had been allowed to fall in communications he said “it is unacceptable that the US ranks 15th in the world in broadband installation.” Roosevelt would have approved, I think.


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