The Crash: A Deficit on the Trail

Few candidates, so far, show much economic leadership

The Democratic candidate for President during the dark days of 1932 had few firm economic ideas. Buffeted by conflicting advice, he lamely tried to split the difference. His speeches were a study in contradiction, combining hints of bold spending programs with cries for a balanced budget. If Franklin Roosevelt's approach was inconsistent, even intellectually dishonest, it helped produce a landslide victory over Herbert Hoover and ultimately the New Deal.

That precedent is worth savoring as America runs short of borrowed time and borrowed dollars. Indeed, the hope that one of the 1988 contenders is a hidden F.D.R. may be the only...

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