FDR Library & Museum in desperate straits

The New York Times reported recently that the FDR Presidential Library and Museum is in serious disrepair. In fact, conditions are so bad that the irreplaceable collections of documents from FDR’s presidency are endangered.

The Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum at Hyde Park, N.Y., the nation’s first presidential library, is literally falling apart. The roof leaks, the basement floods, asbestos is flaking from old steam pipes, an ancient electrical system could send the whole place up in smoke. This sorry situation is an insult to the person the library and museum honor: the founder of the New Deal, the greatest investment in our nation’s modern development.

The FDR Library and Museum has quickly become one of my favorite places in the country. I’ve been there several times now, most recently last weekend when my cousin Lynne and I went to see FDR’s grandson, Curtis Roosevelt, speak about his years in the White House.

Even more than Curtis Roosevelt’s talk, though, my main reason for going was to be inspired. Every time I go there I get a fresh dose of fire in the belly. After Obama was elected, I had a strong desire to go and stoke the flames again.

It’s vitally important that we protect our national history and FDR’s legacy. Please contact your representatives and senators and urge them to fund the restoration of the FDR Presidential Library and Museum. Thank you.

Franklin Delano Obama?

NYT columnist and Nobel laureate Paul Krugman thinks FDR can be an inspiration for the Obama administration — but he thinks Obama needs to go further than FDR did in spending to revitalize the economy:

The political lesson is that economic missteps can quickly undermine an electoral mandate. Democrats won big last week — but they won even bigger in 1936, only to see their gains evaporate after the recession of 1937-38. Americans don’t expect instant economic results from the incoming administration, but they do expect results, and Democrats’ euphoria will be short-lived if they don’t deliver an economic recovery.

The economic lesson is the importance of doing enough. F.D.R. thought he was being prudent by reining in his spending plans; in reality, he was taking big risks with the economy and with his legacy. My advice to the Obama people is to figure out how much help they think the economy needs, then add 50 percent. It’s much better, in a depressed economy, to err on the side of too much stimulus than on the side of too little.

In short, Mr. Obama’s chances of leading a new New Deal depend largely on whether his short-run economic plans are sufficiently bold. Progressives can only hope that he has the necessary audacity.

Read the story.