Jimmy Carter’s Second Term
By Jeffrey Lord
You have to admit it takes guts. Audacity, even.
Senator Barack Obama, the presumptive nominee of the Democrats, has in essence just defeated the heiress of the Clinton era by campaigning as the heir-apparent of the Carter era.
The question for the rest of the year is this: Are there enough voting Americans who survived the disastrous odyssey through the late 1970s that was led by blessedly now ex-president Jimmy Carter? While Ronald Reagan is rated in poll after poll by Americans as a great president, (most recently he rated second only to Lincoln), are there enough people who recall that Reagan's election came about because of Carter's...ahhh..."performance" in the Oval Office? And will they be able to make the Obama-Carter connection for younger voters hearing terms like "windfall profits tax" for the first time? More to the point, can Senator John McCain do this?
The greatest charade of the year thus far is the idea that something "new" is being said in this campaign. By anybody. To be bluntly accurate, the only thing new is that one of the final two candidates is black.
Since the 1788 election that produced (unopposed) George Washington as the first president, the agenda for presidential elections has been narrowed to one underlying issue: the role of government. Understood in that fashion, the following 220 years of American history can be read as if with Superman's X-ray vision.
So too is it more than safe to say that America has seen every kind of candidate there is to be had in these 55 elections. Only the packaging is different in number 56, a truism of every previous election. Black this time for Obama, female for Hillary, there was Catholic for JFK. Short for Martin Van Buren, tall, skinny and hot tempered for Andrew Jackson. A failed haberdasher in Truman, a glossy movie actor in Reagan, a joke-cracking railroad lawyer in Lincoln and a school teacher in LBJ. A peanut farmer with Carter. Yet what each was saying both as candidate and president fell along one side or the other of the role of government argument.
And as the string of American presidents and presidential campaigns gets longer, the newest candidates and the latest president have taken to looking backwards to select the presidential policies of admired predecessors
Which makes the audacity of the Obama campaign more than amusing -- and amazing -- to watch. Consciously or not, Obama has selected the philosophical template of the Carter administration, from defunding the military, fighting the "special interests" down to imposing the windfall profits tax on the rich. Well, as Justice Clarence Thomas might say: whoop-dee-damn-do! This is precisely the philosophy of Jimmy Carter, although Carter had the good sense not to campaign as the pacifist he really is in 1976, waiting until the moment his hand came off the bible for that.
IS IT POSSIBLE that America really wants to return to those depressing days of gas lines and leisure suits? Of malaise and shock over the aggressiveness of America's enemies? The days when the policies Obama is advocating raised unemployment rates, interest rates and inflation rates into the double digits? When America's enemies looked the President of the United States in the eye -- and found he really wanted to kiss them on the cheek?
Obama's windfall profits tax idea? A Jimmy Carter biggie. "Unless we tax the oil companies, they will reap huge and undeserved windfall profits," fumed Carter on national television in 1980. The New York Times agreed, warning darkly that "legislators who sit by idly while oil profits soar will have to answer to the voters." With Democrats controlling Congress they got their way. As if on cue, oil production -- fell. To the tune of 1.6 billion fewer barrels. America's dependence on foreign oil rose. Eventually even the Times was agreeing the tax had to be repealed, and by 1988 Reagan, who campaigned against it, signed the repeal (by a Democrat Congress no less) into law. And Obama wants to do this all over again? Yes. It's not only not a new idea, it's not a better idea. Yet in terms of Obama, most tellingly it was a Carter idea.
BUT OBAMA'S VIEWS are also something else. They are the product of a world view that has been around for centuries -- failing every time it's tried.
With all of the sweep of American history to look back on, with virtual libraries of history recording what works and what doesn't when running the American government, Obama has stunningly selected the Carter policies as his role model.
Tax cuts? Not for Obama. Military superiority? No, not for Obama. Do tax cuts work? Yes, as shown by Presidents Coolidge, Kennedy, Reagan and Bush 43. Military strength? Yes, decisively too. From Lincoln's Union Army to Teddy Roosevelt's Great White Fleet and his maxim to "talk softly and carry a big stick," from Wilson's Allied Expeditionary Force to FDR's vow to victory "so help us God" to Ronald Reagan's peace through strength, the idea of overwhelming military superiority works -- if the enemy believes you will use it. Or you actually use it.
The question for Senator McCain, accused by Obama of wanting to serve George W. Bush's third term, is whether he will hold Obama's feet to the fire on Obama's apparently passionate desire to serve Jimmy Carter's second.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Obama Another Carter?
What do you get when you combine false hopes and inexperience? Jimmy Carter and DISASTER!
Posted by Mike's America at 5/14/2008