FDR and BHO: Two Plans

I recently conducted a Leadership Now Workshop on Franklin Roosevelt’s second presidential term as a lens for looking at the upcoming second presidential term of Barack Obama. My point was that this lens might lay down certain markers to illuminate the course of the next four years. If you have to plan, vision, and strategize as a leader, in other words look ahead, it helps to have markers.

Among the features of Roosevelt’s first year of the second term (1937) was his development and pursuit of a plan to change the U.S. Supreme Court. He resented the Court for its role in blocking key laws he had enacted in the first term.

The problem for Roosevelt was that his plan outraged many in the American public. Interestingly, the outrage spanned political right and political left, conservative and liberal. And again interestingly, Roosevelt insisted on pushing the plan ahead despite signs he would lose. He finally gave up on the plan in July 1937, six months into the second term.

All of this strikes me as being remarkably similar to BHO’s approach to the sequester. His plan, his design, his strategy, all of it has largely been Obama’s in how the sequester has unfolded. The record, right or wrong, better or worse, mitigating circumstances or not, is clear.

I chose FDR’s second term for a reason. I thought and think this 4-year period has powerful resemblances to where BHO is now and where he will likely go. Sitting at the start of March, 60 days into the second term, I stand on the wisdom of my choice.