- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 29, 2002

As President Bush prepares for his first State of the Union address tonight, he faces circumstances not unlike those 60 years ago, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed Congress as the Depression-weary nation was newly involved in war.
In 1942, the State of the Union address was Jan. 6, the date when Congress formally convened, which meant that Roosevelt's talk was delivered less than a month after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
FDR's 1942 State of the Union speech one of a record 12 that he delivered before his death in April 1945 was not his most frequently cited by historians, but a close second.
The most popular of Roosevelt's State of the Union speeches delivered in 1941 and dubbed the "Four Freedoms" address was almost a preface to the next one because, with war already rampant abroad, it looked forward to a new world order founded upon four human freedoms freedom of speech and expression, freedom of religion, freedom from want and freedom from fear.
But FDR's 1942 State of the Union was one of his lengthiest, about 35 minutes, and reflected a president in a stern mood.
"The militarists of Berlin and Tokyo started this war," said the president. "But the massed, angered forces of common humanity will finish it.
"I am proud to say to you," Roosevelt said, "that the spirit of the American people was never higher than it is today. The Union was never more closely knit together and the country was never more deeply determined to face the solemn tasks before it."
Like Mr. Bush, FDR said that the foreign attack had been unsuccessful in breaking the American spirit: "The plan [of our enemies] has failed in its purpose. We have not been stunned. We have not been terrified or confused. The very reassembling of the 77th Congress today is proof of that."
Also like Mr. Bush, FDR saw the war in the context of good and evil: "We are fighting, as our fathers have fought, to uphold the doctrine that all men are equal in the sight of God. Those on the other side are striving to destroy this deep belief and to create a world in their own image a world of tyranny and cruelty and serfdom.
"This is the conflict that day and night now pervades our lives. No compromise can end that conflict. There never has been there never can be successful compromise between good and evil. Only total victory can reward the champions of tolerance, and decency, and freedom, and faith."
As for the economy, Mr. Bush's resolve to stimulate an economy in recession is quite different from FDR's State of the Union call to produce quickly an unprecedented number of war goods: 60,000 airplanes in 1942, 125,000 the next year; 25,000 tanks in 1942, 75,000 in 1943; 20,000 anti-aircraft guns in 1942, 35,000 in 1943, to say nothing of the doubling of the number of ships built.
"These figures and similar figures for a multitude of other implements of war," continued FDR, "will give the Japanese and the Nazis a little idea of just what they accomplished in the attack at Pearl Harbor. And I rather hope that all these figures which I have given will become common knowledge in Germany and Japan. …"
Defense, like today, was expensive, said the president. "We devoted only 15 percent of our national income to national defense. As will appear in my budget message tomorrow, our war program for the coming fiscal year will cost $56 billion, or in other words, more than half of the estimated annual income."
Instead of Mr. Bush's call for tax cuts and for Americans to spend as a means of helping an ailing economy, tax spikes and belt-tightening were FDR's prescription. Big defense expenditure "means taxes and bonds, and bonds and taxes. It means cutting luxuries and other nonessentials. In a word, it means an all-out war by individual effort and family effort in a united country."
FDR's 1942 speech received a warm reception, with 30 interruptions for applause.


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