We live in a time of transition, an uneasy era which is likely to endure for the rest of this century. During the period we may be tempted to abandon some of the time-honored principles and commitments which have been proven during the difficult times of past generations. We must never yield to this temptation. Our American values are not luxuries, but necessities— not the salt in our bread, but the bread itself.
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.
Over at PJ Media Tyler O’Neil has a post called Is Obama as Bad as Carter? No, He’s Worse. Jimmy Carter’s presidency is viewed most as a failure, but, to his credit, Carter did try to change course on some policies that were obvious losers.
Rather than altering his policies for the good of the people, Obama persists, aiming to enshrine his agenda in law, with or without the Constitution. Compared to the rule of such an ideologue, the Carter days may be good indeed.
Read the whole thing.
Back in 2008, there were some of us who viewed Barack Obama as Carter Mk2 as a best case scenario. We told you so.
When President Obama was elected in 2008, his victory signaled a generational change and the prospect of renewal for the Democratic Party. Instead, the opposite has occurred. Over the past six years, the party has been hollowed out.
You may also remember that some of us said that Carter’s second term was a best case scenario.
Stacy McCain has a post up about a Democrat congresscritter who has introduced a constitutional amendment to repeal the 22nd Amendment, the one that put the two-term limits on Presidents. Yes, some Democrats are already talking about a third term for Barack Obama.
I’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating. In 2008, some folks expected that Barack Obama’s first term would be, in effect, Jimmy Carter’s second term. I was one of the people who viewed that as a best case scenario. Given the abundance of coverups, it may be that Barack Obama’s second term will seem like Richard Nixon’s third term.
There was an expectation among some folks after the 2008 election that the Obama Administration would be very much like a second Carter term. And there were those of us who felt that was a best case scenario. That pessimism now seems well founded.
There is, however, one area where Barack Obama has been more fortunate than Jimmy Carter. At least he hasn’t had a whole embassy taken over, only a consulate. Of course, the Benghazi incident has provided a great opportunity for the President to emulate one of the other 20th-century presidents he resembles, Richard Nixon, and so we are once again asking, “What did the President know, and when did he know it?”
The competence of Carter, the integrity of Nixon, the economic success of Hoover …
Dan Balz has a piece at WaPo about how nasty the Presidential campaign is this year. While he complains about both sides, he clearly thinks that the Democrats are much further over the line. (H/T, Powerline) The similarities between the meanness of the Carter and Obama reelection campaigns are striking.
Speaking of Powerline, Paul Mirengoff takes a look at some Gallup data that partially explains the panic on the left.
Moreover, Barack Obama’s approval rating on the economy is 10 points lower than George W. Bush’s was at this time in 2004. That doesn’t point to a successful reelection.
A huge ad budget over the past few months didn’t move the polls in the President’s favor. Unemployment is up. The recovery is stuck in first gear. And Mitt Romney has picked a running mate who shows a seriousness about economic matters.
John Hinderaker posts over at Powerline about the President’s shrinking advantage in the poles. You can see from the graphs in the post that the President could be in real trouble.
TOM thinks that race is still a “jump ball,” to use his words, and that events between now and Election Day will be decisive. I’m not so sure. I believe that election is now Mitt Romney’s to lose.
Beginning in 2008, there were those who suggested that the Obama presidency would be Carter’s second term, and there have been those of us who suggested that would be a best case scenario. It looks like our pessimism was well founded. The economy is in shambles (check) and we are perceived as weak and ineffective by our enemies (check). About the only thing Obama has avoided is being attacked by a killer rabbit.
I’m not expecting the same level of blowout as Reagan over Carter. California is now reliably Democrat with its 55 electoral votes. However, I won’t be surprised if Mitt Romney winds up with more than 300 electoral votes.
Roger Simon suggests that contrary to conventional wisdom the former president with whom Barack Obama has the most in common is Richard Nixon rather than Jimmy Carter. He does point out some important similarities, and misses one. Enemy Lists.
The tie to Jimmy Carter comes more from the initial expectation that the Obama Administration would be “Carter’s Second Term,” but that has turned out to be an unachieved best case scenario.
May I suggest two other former presidents whose single terms fit somewhat with what we’ve seen of Barack Obama?
Herbert Hoover–a Progressive who did all the wrong things during an economic recovery.
James Buchanan–a weak president whose lack of leadership contributed to the Civil War has a parallel in our current president’s “voting present” on issues such as deficit reduction which are leadings toward a possible economic train wreck.
Is it November yet?
UPDATE–Hoover and Buchanan were the presidents who immediately preceded significant discontinuities in how the society/government interface worked, the Civil War and the New Deal.
Jennifer Rubin blogs at WaPo that Barack Obama is killing the Democratic Party. Killing may be too strong of a word, but he certainly is crippling it.
Not even Jimmy Carter did this much, I would suggest, to jerk his party to the left and hobble its electoral prospects. No wonder Clinton is on a rampage.
You know, I think the continuing comparisons with Jimmy Carter miss the point. If you look at the kind of economic policies President Obama has followed and the results he has achieved, Herbert Hoover is a closer match. And, as I see it, the Republicans will be able to run against Barack Obama for a generation just as the Democrats used memories of Herbert Hoover to frighten voters until well into the 1960s.
There were folks who didn’t vote for Barack Obama in 2008 because it seemed as if his administration would essentially be like a second Carter term. There are folks like Glenn Reynolds and me who have considered a second Carter term to be a best case scenario.
Tim Stanley writes at The Telegraph that President Obama is facing his Jimmy Carter moment.
In 1980, Democratic president Jimmy Carter faced an uphill struggle for re-election. Yet, despite an index of inflation and unemployment far higher than Obama’s, he was actually doing slightly better in the polls. In March of that year, Carter led his Republican opponent, Ronald Reagan, by around 25 per cent. By May, Gallup gave him a lead of 49 to 41 per cent – higher than Obama’s today. Carter’s advantage evaporated in the months that followed, but he regained ground in October and by the last week he was running even.
None the less, Carter eventually suffered a landslide defeat. The scale of his humiliation was hidden by the fact that people were unwilling to commit themselves to the conservative Ronald Reagan until the very last minute. It was only when they went into the polling booth and weighed up all the hurt and humiliation of the past four years that they cast their vote against the president. It looks like Barack Obama will be the Jimmy Carter of 2012.
Read the whole thing.
UPDATE–Stephen Green has posted a map that shows a possible 39 state/371 vote win for Romney. While that’s not a Reaganesque blowout, it’s better than most pundits and pollsters are guesstimating. But it’s also not out of line with what I sense from talking with folks around the country.
Prof. Reynolds (the Instapundit) has mused that a rerun of the Carter administration is the best-case scenario for the Obama presidency. Holman Jenkins explains why at WSJ.
The Carter presidency was a mixed bag, but he had the requisite adult judgment for the job. He did not abandon his “progressive” values, but he could see the obvious—that the times called for backing and filling in the “progressive” project, not charging ahead, onward and upward oblivious to realities.
Moreover, Jimmy Carter’s real world experience as a naval officer, a farmer/businessman, and a governor gave him a solid foundation, enabling him to understand when to compromise among contending priorities. The title of Jenkins’ piece summaries the situation–If Only Obama Had Been This Guy.