Re: How do presidents learn from defeat without easily acknowledge it?

Question: How do presidents learn from defeat?

Peter Beinart: I think that presidents, as a general rule, who take power in a time when Americans are feeling disillusioned, or embittered, or in some ways defeated either by war, or by something like the depression – or even, to a milder degree, the kind of economic malaise of the 1970s – that the balance that they have to strike is they have to find ways . . . they have to be naturally good at restoring American sense of self-confidence, faith in themselves, America’s belief in the greatness of their nation. Both Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan were real geniuses at that. They . . . they were in some ways geniuses of self-confidence. Their optimism and self-confidence just flowed from them. That’s one of the things that people . . . people repeatedly commented on about them during their time in public office. But I think you simultaneously have to actually . . . have to be . . . have to recognize the limits in which you function; the limits that past failure has imposed; the fact that the legacy of World War I made it much more difficult for America to enter World War II; that Franklin Roosevelt had to wait much longer than he might have wanted to to bring America into World War II because of the disillusioning effects of World War I; that Ronald Reagan had to be chastened by the legacy of Vietnam, that he couldn’t send American troops into Central America. I think thank goodness he didn’t. But he was constrained by the . . . by the memory of America’s failed military intervention in the third world. So I think it’s that balance between restoring America’s sense of pride, optimism, and self-confidence while not being reckless, and recognizing the constraints within which one has to labor.

Recorded on: 9/12/07

 

 

 

 

 

Presidents who take power in a time when Americans are feeling disillusioned, or in some way defeated must be naturally good at restoring American sense of self-confidence.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

26 ultra-rich people own as much as the world's 3.8 billion poorest

The Oxfam report prompted Anand Giridharadas to tweet: "Don't be Pinkered into everything's-getting-better complacency."

Getty Images and Wikimedia Commons
Politics & Current Affairs
  • A new report by Oxfam argues that wealth inequality is causing poverty and misery around the world.
  • In the last year, the world's billionaires saw their wealth increase by 12%, while the poorest 3.8 billion people on the planet lost 11% of their wealth.
  • The report prompted Anand Giridharadas to tweet: "Don't be Pinkered into everything's-getting-better complacency." We explain what Steven Pinker's got to do with it.
Keep reading Show less

Your body’s full of stuff you no longer need. Here's a list.

Evolution doesn't clean up after itself very well.

Image source: Ernst Haeckel
Surprising Science
  • An evolutionary biologist got people swapping ideas about our lingering vestigia.
  • Basically, this is the stuff that served some evolutionary purpose at some point, but now is kind of, well, extra.
  • Here are the six traits that inaugurated the fun.
Keep reading Show less
Videos
  • Facebook and Google began as companies with supposedly noble purposes.
  • Creating a more connected world and indexing the world's information: what could be better than that?
  • But pressure to return value to shareholders came at the expense of their own users.
Keep reading Show less