When the depression came in the 1930s....FDR came to meet the mess, and basically walked through it. There are a number of things that we can gaze upon and say in comparison today.
FDR had no foreign affairs episode in existence from day one of his period, until the late 1930s....when the Nazis began invading various neighbors.
FDR had no military presence outside of the US, unless you counted Panama or his vessels on the high seas.
FDR had no major military weapons establishment until the beginning of World War II. The biggest episode that he encountered with the military was the heavy discussion over airpower and the fight of the Army Air Corps over getting more funding to build planes.
FDR had one "national" newspaper (The New York Times), and then around thirty regional newspaper powerhouses. The majority were Democratic-leaners.
FDR had only a dozen national magzines, of which most had nothing to do with politics.
FDR had only radio stations to contend with....of which most barely had any evening new updates for the public. Most of their aim was simply entertainment.
FDR had to contend with almost no national think-tanks. If you counted true-blue lobbyists, then you probably had less than hundred in the entire nation. If you were discussing special interest groups.....it probably numbered less than a dozen (the Catholics were actually one) that he had to contend with.
FDR didn't have a single national newscaster or figure to go against him on a nightly basis.
This is how things were simplified in 1936.
So lets turn to 2010. There are at least 10,000 lobbyists out there. At least fifty senators and 150 representatives are seen via some network or news service on a daily basis. Micheal Savage, Rush Limbaugh, Hannity, Neal Boritz, and at least forty additional talk-show hosts are heard on a daily basis. There are US troops spread throughout the globe, with two major conflicts underway (Iraq and Afghanistan), with five or six potential conflicts always brewing. The drug war in Mexico could potentially destroy all stability in Mexico within twelve months.
You've got ex-Presidents like Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton who might say anything in public which might damage you a notch. You've got governors who have national appeal and could mount an attack on any program they desired. You've got talk-show hosts on the Today Show who are more noted than almost any political figure in Washington DC.
You've got got a huge segment of American society that is anti-union. You've got at least 200,000 people in California with $40k in credit card debt. You've got the city of Detroit which is corrupted to the core and cannot attract any newcomers. You've got over 200 think-tanks sponsored by various characters, with various agendas. You've got thousands of empty houses sitting in Phoenix from foreclosures. And you've got various foreign governments which would like to bring down the US government in some fashion.
What lessons can President Obama take from 1936 and FDR? None. This is the problem. Whatever worked in 1936 to keep the FDR administration on track....will not work in 2010.
So as you sit there tonight, sipping a coffee and wondering how this will all turn out.....be creative, because whatever worked before...means nothing.