President Obama has securely laid claim to the title of the worst President of modern times, wresting it away from President Peanut, James Earl Carter. Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit fame has been saying for some time that from where he sits, a return to Carter era policies looks like a best case scenario.
Most of America today is too young to remember the Carter years.
Gas rationing, long lines, double digit mortgage rates…
Good times…good times…
Intuitively I have agreed with the Blogfather but until today, I didn’t appreciate how right he is.
One of the defining moments of Carter’s presidency was his “Crisis of Confidence” speech given on July 15, 1979. In it, Carter addressed his feelings that government wasn’t the only thing that had failed, the American people had let the country down:
“The threat is nearly invisible in ordinary ways. It is a crisis of confidence. It is a crisis that strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will. We can see this crisis in the growing doubt about the meaning of our own lives and in the loss of a unity of purpose for our nation.
The erosion of our confidence in the future is threatening to destroy the social and the political fabric of America…
Our people are losing that faith, not only in government itself but in the ability as citizens to serve as the ultimate rulers and shapers of our democracy…
The symptoms of this crisis of the American spirit are all around us. For the first time in the history of our country a majority of our people believe that the next five years will be worse than the past five years. Two-thirds of our people do not even vote. The productivity of American workers is actually dropping, and the willingness of Americans to save for the future has fallen below that of all other people in the Western world.”
Chris Clizza’s woefully predictable Washington Post piece this week about how it is virtually impossible to be a successful president in these modern times, that “Being president is the most powerful job in the world. At which you will almost certainly fail” was a “trigger” (as all the kids say) for me to take a look back at the glory that was the Carter years.
As luck would have it, as I was doing a little fact checking for this writing, you will never guess what I ran across… It was another piece from Clizza written in June of 2012 that says exactly the same thing as his WaPo piece this week. Curiously, the Obama faithful were then in a tizzy about Obamacare and the specter of a Romney win…
On a side note, I wish I could get paid for writing the same article over and over…Hell, I wish I could get paid for writing anything!
It is to be noted that this “ungovernable” meme is standard issue Democrat claptrap when the American people begin to choke and regurgitate a gut full of progressive policies back on a sitting Democrat president.
Carter got the same kind of treatment when he stalled and his presidency went into a flat spin. In a reaction to Clizza v 1.0, the inimitable James Taranto dug up a few doozies that spouted forth from the liberal fountain of despair:
“The Presidency today is entangled in the great crisis of all established authority,” wrote Henry Graff, a Columbia University historian (now emeritus) in the Times July 25, 1980. “Executives of every kind–political, educational, ecclesiastical, corporate–are under incessant public attack.” The president’s life, Graff wrote, “is under such relentless scrutiny that he can only seem ordinary, never extraordinary. No man is a hero to his valet, and America is now a nation of valets.”
Graff did not mention Twitter, blogs, Facebook and so on and so forth…
Then again, it’s easy to be whipsawed by events.
“The presidency has grown, and grown and grown, into the most powerful, most impossible job in the world,” declared the subheadline of a Jan. 13, 1980, Washington Post story, whose author, Walter Shapiro, has since ascended to Yahoo! News.
There is more of the despairingly sweet goodness of liberal teardrops in Taranto’s piece here.
But as much as these 34 year old responses to Carter’s failures are like those written about President Obama, there are some stark differences.
The prescription that President Carter proposed to end the “crisis of confidence” would be unthinkable to President Obama today. Here are a few from that speech:
- “To give us energy security, I am asking for the most massive peacetime commitment of funds and resources in our nation’s history to develop America’s own alternative sources of fuel — from coal, from oil shale, from plant products for gasohol, from unconventional gas, from the sun.”
- “I’m asking Congress to mandate, to require as a matter of law, that our nation’s utility companies cut their massive use of oil by 50 percent within the next decade and switch to other fuels, especially coal, our most abundant energy source.”
- “To make absolutely certain that nothing stands in the way of achieving these goals, I will urge Congress to create an energy mobilization board which, like the War Production Board in World War II, will have the responsibility and authority to cut through the red tape, the delays, and the endless roadblocks to completing key energy projects.”
- “We will protect our environment. But when this nation critically needs a refinery or a pipeline, we will build it.”
Of course, there was typical liberal stupidity spread like Georgia peanut butter all over the speech as well – gasohol (ethanol), solar, a reliance on conservation, a “windfall profits” tax, a foreign oil embargo, government funding of “clean energy” – but it is impossible to conceive of Obama calling for increased usage of coal, unconventional gas (fracking fits here), cutting through burdensome regulations on energy development – or for goodness sake, building refineries or pipelines (think Keystone XL).
Yep, the Blogfather is right. A return to the Carter years is a best case scenario.