The Corner

Re: 1980 Redux

VDH notes below that the perceptions of American weakness and appeasement today are similar to those of 1980.

There are many similarities between Carter and Obama: embassies under siege, an invincible belief in the moral superiority of their policy positions, an initial instinct to apologize for American behavior, strategic myopia, a stance toward Israel that may charitably be described as “cool,”  a dangerously naïve view of Russia, an incoherent energy policy, a tendency to blame others for their own failures, zealous expansion of the regulatory state, ineptitude at grappling with high and persistent unemployment (7.5 and 8.1 percent at this point in their respective terms), and presiding over a nation perceived to be in decline, to name just a few.

Neither president could break above 50 percent approval for most of the last two years of their terms. Obama, however, has an advantage. Although  members of the press plainly favored Carter over Reagan, they didn’t protect and promote Carter with anything near the religious fervor accorded Obama.

Gallup had Carter up by four points over Reagan at this point in the election cycle. But fed up with four years of howling ineptitude and moral preening, voters ended up rejecting Carter  by a nine-point margin. And Carter didn’t have to defend Obamacare, annual trillion-dollar deficits, $5 trillion in added debt or a refusal to address a looming entitlement catastrophe.

The question this November  is whether American voters’ tolerance for failure (or appetite for government benefits) has grown so much in the last three decades that they won’t reward Obama with the same fate as his presidential cousin. 

Peter Kirsanow — Peter N. Kirsanow is an attorney and a member of the United States Commission on Civil Rights.

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