Looking back at the state of the world two years into the Great Depression, Matthew Continetti of the Weekly Standard searches for similarities to our current circumstances ? two years into the “Great Recession.”

At first blush, there are several affinities between the domestic political situation in December 2010 and that of December 1931. In both months the president?s party had just lost control of the House of Representatives while retaining a slim majority in the Senate. Both Decembers saw fights over taxes, with tax rates rising in the 1930s but staying the same today or in some cases being lowered. Both months witnessed debates over the repeal of controversial social legislation​?​prohibition in the 1930s, Don?t Ask, Don?t Tell in our time.

What?s more, the presidents in both Decembers shared a couple of qualities. Obviously, Barack Obama is not Herbert Hoover. But both men were criticized for being detached, overly logical, aloof. Both men, moreover, were celebrities when they took office. Hoover, the great engineer, was known for his feats as director of aid to Europe after World War I and as secretary of commerce under presidents Harding and Coolidge. Obama was known for being Obama.

Both Hoover and Obama were activist presidents who believed in a progressive social philosophy. This is not to say that Hoover would have been comfortable blogging for an early-?30s version of the Huffington Post. Throughout his presidency, he opposed direct relief to the poor and unemployed. He was a reluctant economic interventionist. But the idea that Hoover was a lazy bystander is false. He was in the news all the time. The scope of his initiatives grew as the Depression went on. In his message to Congress in December 1931, for example, he called for a tax increase and the creation of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation to spur lending.

You might also enjoy reading Amity Shlaes‘ and Robert Murphy‘s work on the real facts of the Great Depression.