Pope Francis: Agent of Change

On March 13, 2013, when Pope Francis stepped out onto the balcony in Rome for the first time, he was dressed in simple white robes. He smiled warmly and waved to the cheering, ecstatic multitude, speaking in Italian, “Brothers and sisters, good evening! You know that it was the conclave’s duty to give Rome a new bishop. My brother cardinals appear to have gone almost to the ends of the earth to find one, but here we are.” The intrinsic dignity and humility of his presence and words swept the crowd and millions watching around the world at that moment. In the months since then, his life style, ideas , public statements and actions have been a distinct change from his predecessors, Benedict XVI and John Paul II.

Francis did not choose to live in the palatial palace apartments set aside for the pope at the Vatican. His home is nearby in Santa Marta in a small bare room with a table, chairs and one painting on the wall. As a Jesuit priest, he follows the rules and customs of his order within simple surroundings as he did when he was a bishop and cardinal in Argentina. He often walks to his destinations rather than ride in the formal limousine at his disposal. When he is greeted by crowds throwing gifts, he catches them and gives a thumbs up. He stops for photos with students. He tweets. He calls strangers on the phone. He is popular among Italian parish priests throughout Italy. Attendance at Sunday Mass had fallen to below 30 percent and parishes are happy with a pope who relates and talks to believers and non-believers. When he traveled to South America, he rode in an open car through the streets rather than the square, glassed- in vehicle known as ‘the pope mobile‘. More than a million excited men, women and children greeted him on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro. He is their pope — the first from Latin America.

Since his election, Francis has initiated measures to reform the Roman Catholic Church, after years of criticism for the way it mishandled sexual abuse scandals involving clergy world wide, as well as more recent scandals and allegations of financial corruption and mismanagement within the Vatican itself. It was reported on October 2, 2013 that the pope had hand- picked and appointed a group of eight cardinals to make changes in the 2000 year-old institution. They came from Australia, Chile, Democratic Republic of Congo, Germany, Honduras, India, Italy and the United States. His mission is to overhaul the complex and powerful Vatican bureaucracy known as the Roman Curia. He said he has drawn this goal from the conclave of cardinals who elected him. In an interview published in a Jesuit journal, Francis said the Curia should be like a “quartermaster’s office” in the army because it was meant to manage “the services that serve the Holy See”. He defined the problem as the Curia having a “Vatican-centric view that neglects the world around us.” He called the eight cardinals “ not courtiers but wise people who share my own feelings. This is the beginning of a church with an organization that is not just top down but also horizontal.”

Five days after his first interview was made public, he was interviewed by Eugenio Scalfari, 89, the founder and editor of Italy’s largest circulation daily newspaper, La Repubblica. It took place after the pope had a call placed to Scalfari who said he was stunned to hear the voice on the other end of the line saying, “Hello, this is Pope Francis.” He answered, “Hello Your Holiness. I am shocked. I did not expect you to call me.” The conversation continued, “Why so surprised? You wrote me a letter asking to meet me in person. I had the same wish, so I’m calling to fix an appointment. Let me look at my diary. I can’t do Wednesday or Monday. Would Tuesday suit you?” Scalfari: “That’s fine.” Francis: “The time is a little awkward. Three in the afternoon. Is that okay?” Scalfari: Your Holiness, the time is fine.” pause while he thinks how to end the call… “Can I embrace you by phone?” Francis: “Of course, a hug from me too. Then we will do it in person. Goodbye.” La Repubblica, founded in l976, reflects the intellectual and financial elite of Italy. The meeting would take place in the pope’s small room with the table and chairs. The subjects areas they covered would be broad and fascinating.

Scalfari, an atheist, at one point asked if the pope was trying to convert him. Francis replied, “Convert you? Proselytism is solemn nonsense, it makes no sense. We need to get to know each other, listen to each other and improve our knowledge of the world around us. You have to meet people and listen to them. …This is important to get to know people, listen, expand the circle of ideas.” When discussing world problems, Francis was very clear, “The most serious of the evils that afflict the world these days are youth unemployment and the loneliness of the old. The old need care and companionship; the young need work and hope but have neither one nor the other. And the problem is they don’t even look for them any more. They have been crushed by the present.” This was a sharp contrast with Benedict XVI who had called secularism and relativism the greatest evils the world faced.

When Scalfari asked questions about narcissism, the Pope was very forceful in his responses. “I don’t like the word narcissism. It indicates an excessive love for oneself and this is not good. …The real trouble is that those most affected by this – which is actually a kind of mental disorder — are people who have a lot of power. Often bosses are narcissists.” He developed the theme further, “You know what I think about this? Heads of the Church have often been narcissists, flattered and thrilled by their courtiers. The court is the leprosy of the papacy.” He referred to the Vatican-centric view as one he did not share. “I’ll do everything I can to change it. The Church should go back to being the community of God’s people and priests, pastors and bishops who have the care of souls, are at the service of the people of God.”
On October 5, it was announced that, after a three day meeting, the ‘kitchen cabinet’ of eight cardinals planned to redact “a new constitution with significant new aspects” to regulate the Curia. Reverend Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, told reporters that the intent was to place the Curia at the service of the universal church, “in terms of subsidiarily, rather than the exercise of centralized power.”

Pope Francis has been compared to John XXIII who rose from humble peasant origins
as a barefoot boy in the Northern Italian mountains to become pope from 1958 to 1963. He
convened The Vatican II Council in 1963 that made major changes in the doctrine, theology and practice of the Catholic Church. His ecumenical direction led to the lifting of the false charge of “deicide” that had plagued generations of Jews throughout the world for almost 2000 years. Many Italians who have a portrait of John XXIII on their walls evoke his memory when they speak of Francis.

When Eugenio Scalfari completed his interview with the pope, he said, “Your Holiness,
you are certainly a person of great faith, touched by grace, animated by the desire to revive a pastoral, missionary church that is renewed and not temporal. But from the way you talk and from what I understand, you are and will be a revolutionary pope. Half Jesuit, half a man of Francis of Assisi, a combination that perhaps has never been seen before.” They embraced, shook hands and the pope accompanied him to the door. Francis made a final comment about future talks together, “We will also discuss the role of women in the Church. Remember that the Church — la chiesa– is feminine.” Scalfari closed his article on the interview, “ If the Church becomes like him and becomes what he wants it to be, it will be an epochal change.”

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Pope Francis: Agent of Change

Pope Francis: Agent of Change
On March 13, 2013, when Pope Francis stepped out onto the balcony in Rome for the first time, he was dressed in simple white robes. He smiled warmly and waved to the cheering, ecstatic multitude, speaking in Italian, “Brothers and sisters, good evening! You know that it was the conclave’s duty to give Rome a new bishop. My brother cardinals appear to have gone almost to the ends of the earth to find one, but here we are.” The intrinsic dignity and humility of his presence and words swept the crowd and millions watching around the world at that moment. In the months since then, his life style, ideas , public statements and actions have been a distinct change from his predecessors, Benedict XVI and John Paul II.

Francis did not choose to live in the palatial palace apartments set aside for the pope at the Vatican. His home is nearby in Santa Marta in a small bare room with a table, chairs and one painting on the wall. As a Jesuit priest, he follows the rules and customs of his order within simple surroundings as he did when he was a bishop and cardinal in Argentina. He often walks to his destinations rather than ride in the formal limousine at his disposal. When he is greeted by crowds throwing gifts, he catches them and gives a thumbs up. He stops for photos with students. He tweets. He calls strangers on the phone. He is popular among Italian parish priests throughout Italy. Attendance at Sunday Mass had fallen to below 30 percent and parishes are happy with a pope who relates and talks to believers and non-believers. When he traveled to South America, he rode in an open car through the streets rather than the square, glassed- in vehicle known as ‘the pope mobile‘. More than a million excited men, women and children greeted him on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro. He is their pope — the first from Latin America.

Since his election, Francis has initiated measures to reform the Roman Catholic Church, after years of criticism for the way it mishandled sexual abuse scandals involving clergy world wide, as well as more recent scandals and allegations of financial corruption and mismanagement within the Vatican itself. It was reported on October 2, 2013 that the pope had hand- picked and appointed a group of eight cardinals to make changes in the 2000 year-old institution. They came from Australia, Chile, Democratic Republic of Congo, Germany, Honduras, India, Italy and the United States. His mission is to overhaul the complex and powerful Vatican bureaucracy known as the Roman Curia. He said he has drawn this goal from the conclave of cardinals who elected him. In an interview published in a Jesuit journal, Francis said the Curia should be like a “quartermaster’s office” in the army because it was meant to manage “the services that serve the Holy See”. He defined the problem as the Curia having a “Vatican-centric view that neglects the world around us.” He called the eight cardinals “ not courtiers but wise people who share my own feelings. This is the beginning of a church with an organization that is not just top down but also horizontal.”

Five days after his first interview was made public, he was interviewed by Eugenio Scalfari, 89, the founder and editor of Italy’s largest circulation daily newspaper, La Repubblica. It took place after the pope had a call placed to Scalfari who said he was stunned to hear the voice on the other end of the line saying, “Hello, this is Pope Francis.” He answered, “Hello Your Holiness. I am shocked. I did not expect you to call me.” The conversation continued, “Why so surprised? You wrote me a letter asking to meet me in person. I had the same wish, so I’m calling to fix an appointment. Let me look at my diary. I can’t do Wednesday or Monday. Would Tuesday suit you?” Scalfari: “That’s fine.” Francis: “The time is a little awkward. Three in the afternoon. Is that okay?” Scalfari: Your Holiness, the time is fine.” pause while he thinks how to end the call… “Can I embrace you by phone?” Francis: “Of course, a hug from me too. Then we will do it in person. Goodbye.” La Repubblica, founded in l976, reflects the intellectual and financial elite of Italy. The meeting would take place in the pope’s small room with the table and chairs. The subjects areas they covered would be broad and fascinating.

Scalfari, an atheist, at one point asked if the pope was trying to convert him. Francis replied, “Convert you? Proselytism is solemn nonsense, it makes no sense. We need to get to know each other, listen to each other and improve our knowledge of the world around us. You have to meet people and listen to them. …This is important to get to know people, listen, expand the circle of ideas.” When discussing world problems, Francis was very clear, “The most serious of the evils that afflict the world these days are youth unemployment and the loneliness of the old. The old need care and companionship; the young need work and hope but have neither one nor the other. And the problem is they don’t even look for them any more. They have been crushed by the present.” This was a sharp contrast with Benedict XVI who had called secularism and relativism the greatest evils the world faced.

When Scalfari asked questions about narcissism, the Pope was very forceful in his responses. “I don’t like the word narcissism. It indicates an excessive love for oneself and this is not good. …The real trouble is that those most affected by this – which is actually a kind of mental disorder — are people who have a lot of power. Often bosses are narcissists.” He developed the theme further, “You know what I think about this? Heads of the Church have often been narcissists, flattered and thrilled by their courtiers. The court is the leprosy of the papacy.” He referred to the Vatican-centric view as one he did not share. “I’ll do everything I can to change it. The Church should go back to being the community of God’s people and priests, pastors and bishops who have the care of souls, are at the service of the people of God.”
On October 5, it was announced that, after a three day meeting, the ‘kitchen cabinet’ of eight
cardinals planned to redact “a new constitution with significant new aspects” to regulate the
Curia. Reverend Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, told reporters that the intent was
to place the Curia at the service of the universal church, “in terms of subsidiarily, rather than
the exercise of centralized power.”

Pope Francis has been compared to John XXIII who rose from humble peasant origins
as a barefoot boy in the Northern Italian mountains to become pope from 1958 to 1963. He
convened The Vatican II Council in 1963 that made major changes in the doctrine, theology
and practice of the Catholic Church. His ecumenical direction led to the lifting of the false
charge of “deicide” that had plagued generations of Jews throughout the world for almost 2000
years. Many Italians who have a portrait of John XXIII on their walls evoke his memory when
they speak of Francis.

When Eugenio Scalfari completed his interview with the pope, he said, “Your Holiness,
you are certainly a person of great faith, touched by grace, animated by the desire to revive a
pastoral, missionary church that is renewed and not temporal. But from the way you talk and
from what I understand, you are and will be a revolutionary pope. Half Jesuit, half a man of
Francis of Assisi, a combination that perhaps has never been seen before.” They embraced,
shook hands and the pope accompanied him to the door. Francis made a final comment about
future talks together, “We will also discuss the role of women in the Church. Remember that
the Church — la chiesa– is feminine.” Scalfari closed his article on the interview, “ If the
Church becomes like him and becomes what he wants it to be, it will be an epochal change.”

“A Few of My Favorite Things”

In the classic musical, The Sound of Music , Julie Andrews sings this song to comfort the seven children for whom she is the governess. Frightened by a severe thunderstorm, they have run into her bedroom, one by one, to snuggle into the deep feather bed and escape their fears. It’s a memorable scene as she enumerates her ‘favorite things’ to change the dark mood and lift their spirits.

Now that the bitter cold winter is in the past and the summer heat has left us we are grateful for autumn. The time seems appropriate to consider what each of us deems one’s favorite things. The list has to be very personal and I found as I put mine together that it was quite easy and natural to choose a few of my favorites. I hope you each will put your own list together and enjoy doing it. Here, in no particular order is my list:

The sun glimmering on the trunks of the white birch trees in the early morning. I can see them through the window next to my desk. This lovely sight is clearest in the winter when the trunks are bare of foliage. They beckon me to leave my work and venture out for my morning walk. Usually, I resist their pull and wait an hour or so until the day warms up and the sun is higher in the sky. Then I meet the day, walking familiar lanes through the neighborhood. In the spring, I am watching for crocus and daffodils along the way. Today, the last of the New Guinea impatiens are blooming in the borders, purple, white and pink. I have to navigate among the acorns falling from the tall oak trees.

Next on my list: Bread.! Many varieties. Warm pita at the Greek restaurant, dipped in sour cream, garlic and cucumber bits.. Raisin challal and sweet butter. A toss up if it is best in thick slices or just torn from the braided loaf. Chewy sourdough… tastes best in San Francisco, but delicious anywhere. Small twisted dinner rolls, warm of course. Pumpernickel, dark and moist. Either the loaf or as raisin rolls. Again, sweet butter is a must. Crusty Italian bread. Very fresh unseeded rye bread for all the favorite sandwiches. Croissants, warm and flaky. Bread! Bread! Who needs the rest of the meal? Not I.

The love duets from “La Boheme” and “Lucia Di Lammermoor”. Soaring lush melodies envelop the listener. I anticipate each note and phrase. Both stories have tragic endings, but the thrilling music epitomizes for me the romanticism of the composers. Favorite operas: “La Traviata“, “Carmen”, “Aida” which we once heard in Rome at night at The Baths of Caracalla, complete with camels and horses on stage.

Doing the New York Times crossword puzzle each morning — in ink. Monday is the easiest and each day the puzzles become progressively harder. By Saturday, there are some words and puns built in to tickle the mind that remain elusive. I will return during the day until the entire grid is conquered. Once in a while, certain blocks are impenetrable and I have to wait for the next day’s paper to discover where I went wrong. Sunday is the large puzzle with a timely theme. Once I break the theme, it becomes pure unadulterated fun! And a complete escape from the stresses of daily life.

Finding a new novel I can immerse myself in. And re-reading one of the novels that I know so well and love. The Age of Innocence. Brideshead Revisited. The Great Gatsby. These are old friends and I look forward to special passages and read them aloud.

Trying something new. Finding a new challenge. When the newspaper that published my weekly column for fifteen years went under, one of my sons and my daughter said, “Go in cyberspace, Mom.” And I did just that in May 2014. Two computer whizzes helped me set up my web site, jsawrite.com with orchids across the top. Four main sections: Home. Books. Passions. Blogs. The last are my columns with another title. Every Monday, I post a new one. Some readers post welcome comments. In December 2014, I received a summary of results from Word Press, my server: 1,722 hits on my blogs. 672 people in 57 countries. Wow!
.
Traveling to Italy holds rich memories of splendid cities and the warm, wonderful people. The rolling Tuscan landscape with grape vines, terraced olive groves and signature cypress trees outlined against the sky. Positano poised high on the Amalfi coast looking down at Homer’s wine dark sea. Donatello’s David with his sinuous, insouciant pose in the Bargello Museum in Florence. Looking at our scrapbooks brings back all our trips, especially the three times we rented villas and our children and friends came to visit and tour with us. When I see two couples laughing and lying on the weathered stones of the Campo in Siena , or our beautiful daughter standing in front of the pottery shop, I feel as if I’m there again.

Finally: The faces of our grandchildren. And the hugs. Jason. Jennifer. Simon. Evan and Eden. From the oldest to the youngest — their precious beings hold the promise of the future.

A very personal list to be sure that I have taken the liberty of sharing with you. Your lists will be just as individual and interesting. Why not compose yours now? And send it to me. You will find my e-mail it on my website, above. I would love to hear from you.

A New Kind of “Nose Job”

During the second half of the 20th Century, rhinoplasty or nasal surgery became one of the most common operations performed by facial plastic surgeons. Women and men were eager to take advantage of new cosmetic skills for personal and professional reasons. The idea that one could look more attractive or handsome with a “nose job” spread rapidly. Women were entering the business world after taking over men’s jobs in WWII. They wanted to look their best and nasal surgery became popular quickly.

The emphasis in those years was to improve the form and appearance of the nose. Was there a bump below the bridge from a previous break? Did it end in a bulbous tip? Or did the nose appear too long or large for facial proportions? Were the nostrils too wide or flat? Depending on the age of the patient, what were the skin conditions? Surgeons had different reduction and modeling techniques to follow in order to satisfy the desires of their patients and meet medical standards. Some surgeons became known for their signature “nose job”; this could be a plus or a minus depending on the satisfaction of the patient. Not everyone saw it as a status symbol.

It is now 2015 and we live in a healthcare environment where the emphasis is on both form and function of all body parts including the nose. Rhinoplasty today has moved into an important new stage where the form and function of the nose are equally important to the individual as well as to the surgeon. The essential difference is the emphasis upon the patient’s breathing. The facial plastic surgeons are aiming to improve breathing in a cosmetically positive way. Their central goal is to improve Quality of Life (QOF) for their patients.

Have you seen the TV ads of a man or woman lying in bed with a strip across the nose? They are people with sleep problems who have trouble breathing during the night. The strips pull the nose into a position that clears the passages to allow air to flow in and out. It is a sign of the times that these ads highlight the large number of people with nasal obstructions , blocking their breathing and affecting their general health. They also may be breathing through their mouth during the day as well or having other symptoms related to breathing problems. Walking steps or physical exertion during exercise will increase their mouth breathing.

During the last ten years, certain facial plastic surgeons have developed methods that aim at improvement of breathing and quality of life (QOL). Their aim during surgery has been to use new structural techniques that improve the internal function of breathing as well as the external form of the nose. At Penn Medicine in Philadelphia, Doctor Oren Friedman has been at the forefront of this approach to rhinoplasty. He is Director of Facial Plastic Surgery there and I was fortunate to be able to interview him for this article. He shared valuable information about research and questionnaires that are used to measure a patient’s QOL after rhinoplasty .

There are two that have been developed in the field: Nasal Obstruction Symptoms Evaluation (NOSE) which scores nasal function before surgery , and the Rhinoplasty Outcome Evaluation (ROE) which scores nasal shape after surgery. At Penn Medicine, they have used both NOSE and ROE scales for patients to determine QOL results after surgery that aimed at improvement in both form and breathing functions. The NOSE instrument asks five questions about function. The patient circles numbers on a scale from 0 Not a problem, 1 Very mild problem, 2 Moderate problem, 3 Fairly bad problem , 4 Severe problem. Here are the five items: l. Nasal congestion or stuffiness. 2. Nasal blockage or obstruction. 3. Trouble breathing through your nose. 4. Trouble sleeping. 5. Unable to get enough air through your nose during exercise or exertion.

The ROE instrument asks about aesthetic changes primarily. The numbers to circle are: 0 Not at all. 1. Somewhat. 2 Moderately. 3 Very much. 4 Completely. The questions: 1. How well do you like the appearance of your nose? 2, How well are you able to breathe through your nose? 3. How much do you feel your friends and loved ones like your nose? 4. Do you think your current nsasal appearance limits your social or professional activities? 5. How confident are you that your nasal appearance is the best that it can be? 6. Would you like to surgically alter the appearance or function of your nose?

Dr. Friedman summed up, “The primary goals of rhinoplasty are to improve form and function of the nose for the long term. We believe it is appropriate to measure these same outcomes retrospectively. If a patient feels improved and happy with the surgical outcomes three years postoperatively (our average follow-up time), we believe this measure accurately reflects their ultimate quality of life change. He also said, “One recent patient , a woman in her early 50’s who had endured years of blocked nasal breathing, described her successful rhinoplasty with great joy and enthusiasm as ‘A life changing experience! I can breathe!’”

FDR and The New Deal

There’s an insidious Mega Myth floating around the political scene and on the cable networks. In case, you haven’t heard it, here’s a direct quote: “President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s massive government spending actually prolonged the Great Depression.” So spoke Monica Crowley , conservative pundit on Fox News. Okay. Did that get your attention? I’ll quote some historians and economists later to categorically refute that outrageous statement. But first, let’s take a look at the facts about FDR and The New Deal. What was it? How did it unfold? And what were the results?

By the time FDR was sworn in on March 4, 1933, the economy was in complete collapse. Starting with the stock market crash of October, l929, the downward spiral over more than three years had brought 30 % unemployment, high inflation and the Gross National Product off by 50%. Men in business suits sold apples on street corners. Lines were long at soup kitchens. ‘Hoover towns’ housed homeless people in tarpaulin shacks. There is no disagreement that FDR took office at a critical time in United States history. The most famous words of his inauguration speech are etched in memory, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” He then went on to say what he was going to do about the crisis —- “I have a New Deal for the American people.”

Roosevelt had first addressed the problems of The Depression in his acceptance speech as the presidential candidate for the Democratic Party in the summer of l932. At that time, he proclaimed, “I pledge you, I pledge myself, to a new deal for the American people.” In the election that followed, he won by a landslide. FDR was inaugurated on a Friday. On Monday, he ordered a four-day bank holiday and submitted his Emergency Banking Act to Congress. Four days later, the Act was passed into law by the House and Senate with strong Democratic majorities. Over the next several months, he succeeded in having 13 other important pieces of legislation enacted into law; emergency relief programs, work relief programs, banking reform laws and agricultural programs. The Works Progress Administration was known as the WPA, funding jobs in diverse areas. The Civilian Conservation Corps , CCC, created hundreds of thousands of jobs paving roads, building bridges and planting 3 billion trees. The blizzard of laws was based on the philosophy that strong action and spending by the federal government was needed to bring the country out of the Depression.

Many of the New Deal acts or agencies became known by their acronyms. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, F.D.I.C. ,that most of us take for granted as protecting our bank holdings, was born during the New Deal. To protect stock holdings and market transactions, the Securities and Exchange Commission ,SEC, was established to make sure there would be no repeat of the October l929 Crash. The Tennessee Valley Authority, TVA, initiated the large scale infrastructure project that gave hydro-electric power , jobs and light to the people living in the dark rural hollows of a large part of Tennessee. In l935, the Social Security Act was passed and future generations of American workers would be able to look forward to a more secure old age. The town “poor house” that was the last resort for previous elderly men and women without resources became a relic of the past.

FDR was an experimenter and his vision was broad. His basic aim was to put people back to work by creating jobs in a myriad of ways. He drew on the economic theory that spending was the way to jolt the economy back to good health. He also made long-term changes to the structure of our economy and re-shaped the basic social contract between the government and its citizens. Social Security, which is labeled incorrectly as an “entitlement” .is based on workers and employers contributing to the Social Security trust fund. Younger workers thus are building the fund that they will draw upon when they retire at either 62 or 65. It has been working well since it was initiated and any president who has attempted to change it has hit what is called “the third rail” of politics.

During FDR’s first two terms in office — except for l937 to l938 when a short recession occurred– unemployment fell each year and the U.S. economy grew at an average rate of 9 to 10 percent. Eric Rauchway, historian at the University of California, writes, “To be sure, you can argue that the New Deal had its share of problems, But overall, the numbers prove it helped — rather than hurt — the macro-economy.” Paul Krugman, Nobel winning economist, writes that , in l937-38, “FDR was persuaded to balance the budget and cut spending and the economy went back down again.” Former Federal Reserve chairman, Ben Bernanke summed it up: “Only with the New Deal’s rehabilitation of the financial system in l933-35 did the economy begin its slow emergence from the Great Depression.”

What is the significance of the Mega Myth about FDR’s New Deal prolonging the Great Depression ? Is it a subject that only historians and political junkies should care about? Or is it timely —aimed directly at President Barack Obama and his policies that lifted the country out of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. President Obama followed the FDR model in many respects —- and it worked once more to strengthen all facets of our country’s economy from 2008 to 2015.