The Spectacle Blog

Making Obama Into FDR

By on 8.26.08 | 4:07PM

DENVER -- I'm here at "The Big Tent," a space a few blocks from the Pepsi Center, where progressives are gathering for panels and speeches througout the convention sponsored by DailyKos and other liberal groups. Right now, Campaign for America's Future is holding a "Take Back America" panel on the economy.

I've written before about whether, if elected, Barack Obama would be a transformative liberal president like FDR, or more of a Bill Clinton -- i.e. more concerned with advancing his short term political goals than with advancing any sort of progessive agenda.

Robert Kuttner, co-founder of the American Prospect and author of the new book Obama's Challenge, argued that all of the transformative presidents in history (he named Lincoln, FDR, and LBJ), started off as moderates and became radicalized once in office as a result of pressure from activists.

"The time for giving [Obama] a pass is over," Kuttner said. He said Obama needs to understand that to be a great president, he would have to present a much bolder, much more progressive agenda on health care, housing, and deficit spending. He said now that the economy is in bad shape, "we need deficits." He also called for a "Roosevelt scale" regulation of markets.

Now that Obama will be the Democratic nominee, he said, "it us up to us as progressives" to make sure he adopts a more radical policy agenda.Â

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