President Obama meets with his advisors (official White House photo). Below: The Time magazine cover for November 24, 2008 portrayed the president-elect as a new FDR, reflecting the hopes—and fears—of many voters.

The liberal agony

Why there was no new New Deal

Shortly after the election of Barack Obama to the presidency in 2008, the cover of Time magazine featured a fabrication of an iconic photograph of Franklin Roosevelt, cigarette holder at a rakish tilt, sitting at the wheel of a convertible. FDR's face and hands had been displaced by those of Obama's above a headline speculating on the arrival of a "New New Deal." That same week, the New Yorker featured an article by George Packer advancing a similar speculation, which was illustrated with a drawing of much the same invention.

What this image in two major American magazines mani-fested was the hope on the left and the fear on the right that Obama would revitalize and extend the New Deal order that had been significantly dismantled by the conservative ascendancy since the mid-1970s (and that "new Democrat" Bill Clinton did little if anything to stem in his eight years in office).


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