Political pundits love presidential parallels. A single well-deployed analogy can build authority and bespeak a reservoir of historical knowledge. For today's pundits, that technique is as popular as ever. After only one year of Barack Obama's presidency, his situation has been compared to Lincoln's, FDR's, Carter's, Regan's, Clinton's and Bush's. Now that his agenda's been bruised, pundits are trotting out comparisons to Carter and Clinton--so if there's ever time to call out a cliché, it's now.

  • Obama=Lincoln  Evan Thomas and Richard Wolffe at Newsweek write, "It is the season to compare Barack Obama to Abraham Lincoln. Two thin men from rude beginnings, relatively new to Washington but wise to the world, bring the nation together to face a crisis. Both are superb rhetoricians, both geniuses at stagecraft and timing."
  • Obama=FDR  David Kennedy at Time writes, "Obama, too, came to office in the midst of an economic crisis, and in the solutions he has offered, it appears he has often looked to the example of F.D.R., whose presidency — and the very idea of activist government that it represents — is very much back in the public mind this year."
  • Obama=Carter  Bahukutumbi Raman at Forbes writes, "Barack Obama might turn out to be another Jimmy Carter, whose confused thinking and soft image paved the way for the success of the Islamic Revolution in Iran."
  • Obama=Reagan  Politics Daily's Lou Cannon writes, "Reagan, like Obama, had inherited an economic mess, with record peacetime levels of inflation and high interest rates...Reagan was more popular than his policies, a point that is true now about Obama."
  • Obama=Clinton  Politico's John F. Harris writes, "The staff of a winning presidential candidate is a cult. When the candidate wins, the cult usually follows him to the West Wing. That happened with Clinton, and it has happened even more with Obama."