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Hannity

What Obama Could Learn From FDR

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," March 12, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: On March 12, 1933, FDR delivered the very first of his famous fireside chats. Now the topic was the nation's bank crisis. Now fast forward exactly 76 years later and here we are again, and some would argue in the same economic mess.

Now, President Obama has already given several such speeches since taking office, but maybe the current commander in chief could stand to learn a thing or two from his presidential predecessor.

Now here is an excerpt from FDR's initial chat and how it applies both then and now.

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT, FORMER PRESIDENT: We have had a bad banking situation. Some of our bankers have shown themselves either incompetent or dishonest in the handling of the people's funds. They had used the money entrusted to them in speculation and unwise loans.

This was, of course, much true in the vast majority of our banks, but it was true in enough of them to shock the people of the United States for a time into a sense of insecurity and to put them into a frame of mind where they did not differentiate but seemed to assume that the acts of a comparative few had tainted them all.

And so it became the government's job to straighten out this situation and to do it as quickly as possible, and that job is being performed. 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 that they have given me in their acceptance of the judgment that has dictated our costs, even though all our processes may not have seemed clear to them.

After all, there is an element from the readjustment of our financial system more important than currency, more important than gold, and that is the confidence of the people themselves.

Confidence and courage are the essentials of the 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 systems, and it is up to you to support and make it work.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: And joining us now to provide perspective on all of this is National Review's Jonah Goldberg.

Jonah, good to see you, my friend.

JONAH GOLDBERG, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTER: Hey, great to be here.

HANNITY: You know, as I — I went back and I was listening to this earlier today, and reading the history of all this, a lot of us forget that, you know, when FDR took office, we had had the bank panic at the time. Banks were closed in 38 states. They were restricting withdrawals in another 10 states, and yet, there was upbeat confidence, far different from what, you know, we hear in terms of the rhetoric from Barack Obama.

Does that stand out in your mind?

GOLDBERG: No, I think that is right, Sean. It's kind of amazing for all this talk about how Obama is the new FDR and this is a new New Deal. He's almost doing it exactly backwards.

You're going to give him a month. Back then, only a tiny fraction of people had money in the stock market. Today about half the American people have money in the stock market. All of our retirements are based on the stock market, and you can't improve confidence in the economy until you've improve confidence in your own personal — financial soundness and outlook.

And instead, what Obama has done is he put aside the actual crisis that's afflicting the economy in order to deal with all of these other things on his agenda. His entire administration says, you know, we have nothing — you know, we don't want to let a good crisis go to waste. And it's almost as if they want to keep the crisis going so they can take advantage of it more.

HANNITY: Well, you know, when he gave that first fireside chat, telling the audience that the banks would reopen also the next day when he gave that chat, he said it's safer to keep your money in a reopened bank than in a mattress.

GOLDBERG: Right.

HANNITY: The American people had confidence in him. They believed in him. As a matter of fact, if you want to look at the Dow then, and it was very different. It had dropped a lot but the Dow rose 15 percent on the first day of trading and 75 percent in his first several days in office.

GOLDBERG: I think that's right. He — you know, he didn't do Social Security the first day he came in. That came much later. You know there was the whole second New Deal which comes in, what, 1937. He came in and he attacked the actual crisis that was befalling the country.

Barack Obama talks a lot about the crisis but if you read his budget, it seems like he has a sense of urgency about everything except the financial crisis that's facing us. Now, it might be deliberate, or it may be cowardice. Maybe he realizes that to deal with the financial crisis, we'll have to spend $1 trillion, and if we — and he tries to spend that now, then no one is going to want to spend any money on all these other — you know, things that he wants to do, so he's trying to spend all this money on his agenda first, and then he'll get to the crisis.

HANNITY: Well, it's interesting.

GOLDBERG: But any way you look at it, it's very disturbing.

HANNITY: John Steel Gordon in the Daily News today says, you know, that's probably the main point that if he was going to duplicate FDR, he should focus in on the banking crisis.

But meanwhile, he's trying to do health care reform, he's trying to education, and he's trying to do stimulus 1 and you know, all the pork spending, when the real focus should be on getting the money back in the system and getting the banks on firmer ground.

So, fundamentally, is he not learning from his beloved mentor here?

GOLDBERG: Well, in fact, you know, it goes deeper that that. In some ways, he is mimicking Herbert Hoover. Herbert Hoover who was much misunderstood by people. He's much more of a progressive guy than people realized. But his colossal error was signing on to protectionism in the teeth of the depression which.

HANNITY: Yes.

GOLDBERG: ... terrified international markets. It closed down more industries, and now, Barack Obama on trade with South Korea, trade with Columbia, he is signaling that he wants to sort of close up the walls in international trade basically because his paymasters and the unions want him to.

HANNITY: I want to deal with one issue that is driving me crazy, because I think we can always learn a lot from history, and especially presidents that had to deal with real crisis, and real difficulty, and real tragedy, and remember, these were desperate times that people were living in, but it drives me crazy when everyone says the current economy is the worst economy since the Great Depression when the reality is it's the worst economy since Jimmy Carter.

Do you agree more with my analysis or, you know, of Barack Obama?

GOLDBERG: Well, it's — it's the worst economy since the recession of, what, '81, '82, if you measure it in terms of unemployment and all that.

HANNITY: Well, those are the Carter years, 21.5 percent interest rates. Double digit inflation.

GOLDBERG: You know that's right. It was Reagan and the — and Volcker at Fed wrenching out the inflation and the economy that they inherited from Carter, and — but what you hear from Obama is that this crisis is so bad, he said therefore we have to do all of these other things that have nothing to do with dealing with the crisis.

HANNITY: Yes. All right, Jonah, good to see you. Appreciate you being with us tonight.

GOLDBERG: Great to see you.

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