New MSNBC Host: Obama's No Roosevelt - FDR Had Strong Economic Record to Run On

September 2nd, 2011 10:24 AM

Somebody better tell incoming MSNBC host Chris Hayes the network giving him his own show later this month doesn't cotton to commentators disrespecting President Obama.

On Thursday's "The Last Word," Hayes told host Lawrence O'Donnell the current White House resident can't run his reelection campaign like Franklin Delano Roosevelt did in 1936 because FDR actually had a strong economic record to boast about (video follows with transcript and commentary):

LAWRENCE O'DONNELL: And with "Time" magazine reporting today that the White House is eyeing a campaign like Reagan’s in 1984 or FDR’s in 1936, Republican world is already working on its rebuttal.

"Weekly Standard" founder Bill Kristol blogged today in reaction to the "Time" magazine reporting, "When Barack Obama took over, unemployment stood at 7.8 percent. It’s now 9.1 percent, and GDP growth under Obama has so far been running at about 1 percent a year. The bottom line, Obama’s economic record is unlikely to look anything like that of Roosevelt’s or Reagan’s. But if the analogy provided a lift for the Obama team, that’s great. They undoubtedly need a little cheering up. The rest of us can look forward to being cheered up in November 2012 by the change in the Oval Office we’ve been waiting for."
Joining me now is Chris Hayes, MSNBC political analyst and editor at large for "The Nation." His new weekend show premieres here on MSNBC later this fall.

Thanks for joining me tonight, Chris.

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Thank you, Lawrence. Great to be here.

O'DONNNELL: Chris, I now have a new favorite FDR tape, which we have already played once in the show.

HAYES: I love it.

O’DONNELL: I love it so much. I really want to see it again. This is FDR -- a warning, warning against electing Republicans, and doing it with a kind of charm, with this smile, with this attitude, that I hadn’t seen before in the limited amount of FDR speaking stuff that I’ve seen.

Let’s just watch it and glory in it once again.



ROOSEVELT: Let me warn you and let me warn the nation against the smooth evasion that says, of course, we believe these things. We believe in Social Security. We believe in work for the unemployed. We believe in saving homes.

Cross our hearts and hope to die, we believe in all these things. But we do not like the way the present administration is doing them.

Just turn them over to us. We will do all of them. We will do more of them. We will do them better. And most important of all, the doing of them will not cost anybody anything.



O’DONNELL: Yes, that guy won. Chris, President Obama we know doesn’t like that direct confrontational language. But there’s FDR. I mean, there’s a Harvard man, an Ivy League dignified guy, who it didn’t seem like mudslinging. It doesn’t seem like he was getting his hands dirty. It seemed like he was really telling the truth about the Republican attitude toward all of these programs that FDR had created that they were saying, oh, we can do that better.

HAYES: Well, there’s a few things about it. Aside from the sheer awesomeness of Roosevelt sort of delight of baiting his enemies, there are two things about that I find striking. One is that it’s important to remember -- I was looking at the numbers today. GDP growth in 1936 was 13 percent, I want to say.

I mean, even though the economy was still mired in a horrible, absolute position, the trend line was remarkable. And the trend line for the duration of FDR’s first time was remarkable. Every year, there was an average 7 percent or 8 percent GDP growth. The unemployment rate came down. So, he was sort of rightfully boastful about his record. And I think the other thing that’s so fascinating is the distinction between FDR and now is that you can see from that clip the campaign was being waged on his ideological turf. It was being waged on who can best implement this host of programs that I have articulated.

That is not the case in 2012. It is not -- if it’s being waged on anyone’s ideological turf at this point, it is being waged on the ideological turf of the Republican Party, which is how much and how to cut and how to restrain and how to deal with long-term deficits.

Yikes! That's NOT the kind of honest reporting they expect over at MSNBC.

But Hayes was spot on.

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Gross Domestic Product grew by 10.9 percent in 1934, 8.9 percent in 1935, and 13.1 percent in 1936.

By contrast, after growing by 3 percent last year, GDP in 2011 appears to be expanding by less than 1 percent now.

As Hayes noted, this is nothing compared to Roosevelt's first term.

More important to the electorate, neither is employment.

Having peaked at 24.9 percent in 1933, the unemployment rate was down to 16.9 percent in 1936.

By contrast, Obama has seen absolutely no year-over-year improvement in this statistic having taking the oath of office with a 7.3 percent unemployment rate that is now holding at 9.1 percent.

Making matters worse, the Labor Department announced Friday that absolutely no jobs were created in the month of August.

Zero. Nada. Zilch.

As such, Hayes was almost paraphrasing the late Senator Lloyd Bentsen Thursday - Mr. President, you're no Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Quite surprising coming from a soon-to-be MSNBC host.