Running Against Ghosts


Specters haunt our political discourse. For decades, Republicans have tried to frame their Democrat opponents as the next Jimmy Carter. For a couple of generations, Democrats tried to paint every Republican as another Herbert Hoover. But as the voters who lived through those disastrous presidencies have died off, the tactic has lost its emotional connection to the electorate’s personal experiences and become less useful. My parents were in high school during the Hoover administration; I wasn’t born until after World War II. Their understanding of the early years of the Great Depression are personal; mine are second hand. Similarly, my son was born during the Reagan Administration, so he has no memories of Jimmy Carter as President.

Thus, it would seem that we should see the Republican’s running against Carter to peter out over the next few years just as the Democrats have given Hoover a rest.

Except that it appears that the Democrats are so desperate for something to run on that they’re bring  back comparing their opposition to Hoover. Bret Stephens has a piece over at the New York Times called Herbert Hoover’s Ghost comparing President Trump’s tariff policies with the Smoot-Hawley disaster of the early 1930’s. Of course, the world economy is very different today than it was in 1930, so even if Trump’s policies are mistaken (and I think some are), his tariffs won’t cause world trade to contract by over 60 percent as happened almost 90 years ago. Indeed, the weak recovery from 2009 to 2017 was quite similar to the weak recovery from 1933 to 1941. Yet, Stephens predicts:

The darker echoes of the 1930s are sounding louder. The shadow of Hoover grows longer. We know how this movie ends.

If the recent past is prolog, I expect the movie’s script to end with a plot twist the says the Trump’s policies were the result of collusion with the Russians and fully outlined in the emails that were missing from the server in Hillary Clinton’s bathroom. I also expect that movie’s script will not reflect what happens in the Real World.

Presidential Approval


The President’s approval rating is tanking. It’s now running in the same territory as Richard Nixon’s during Watergate. The rubes are starting to catch on.

Back in 2008, I was one of the folks saying that the best case scenario for the Obama Administration would be Carter II. It’s pretty clear that was an accurate assessment and that Barack Obama has missed the mark.

OTOH, it’s unfair to Jimmy Carter to make direct comparisons between him and Barack Obama. Obama/Nixon is more appropriate concerning transparency. Obama/Hoover is better concerning economic recovery, although Hoover did the better job. And when it comes to enabling a potential enemy to be prepared to make war on the United States, an Obama/Buchanan comparison is apt.

We have three more years of this. Fasten your seat belts.

UPDATE—Stacy McCain offers his analysis of the President’s popularity here.

Ya’ Think?


Commenters on the Left are now beginning to worry that the rollout of Obamacare has been and will continue to be so inept that too many of the suckers public will become convinced it is was a scam all along or that the wonks are technical dilettantes rather than competent innovators or something else “bad.” This, they say, will allow the Right to run successfully against Progressivism as personified in Obama for a generation.

They may have a point. When I was a kid back in the ’50s, I remember Democrats who were still going on about Hoover.

Obamacare is going to be an expensive educational experience.

Let it burn.

He’s Reagan. No, He’s Carter


American Glob notices that Democrats always seem to cite a Republican president when they want to compare Barack Obama to someone successful. (H/T, Instapundit)

The only Republican I would put in the same league as Barack Obama is Herbert Hoover, and I see him as more like other Democrats such as Jimmy Carter or James Buchanan.