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Is Obama just the 2010 edition of Jimmy Carter?
Return with me to the late 1970s.  "Tricky Dicky" Nixon had been forced to resign because of the scandal of Watergate, back in the day when American took scandals seriously.  Ford was tarred with pardoning his boss, and for being too moderate. The country was suffering financially: economic stagnation and high inflation.
Jimmy Carter sold himself as the outsider who could restore trust in Washington.

But Carter was spectacularly poor as President.  The surging Right-wingers tarred him as weak on defense and anti-American for his deal returning the Panama Canal and his round of arms limitation talks with the Soviets. His attempts to revive the economy by cutting government spending alienated his base without winning over conservatives.  He was held responsible for the gas shortages that developed when OPEC raised oil prices.  His attempt to motivate Americans to address the challenges facing them like mature adults, his "malaise" speech, was seen as negative and blaming. He developed no narrative about why America was in trouble and no vision about how to move forward.

Similarly, Obama.  Surging T-Partiers have tarred him as socialist for his inadequate health care measure.  His attempt to revive the economy with an insufficient stimulus plan and his failure of leadership on a host of issues important to progressives has alienated his base without winning over any conservatives.  He is now held responsible for our continuing failures in 2 wars.  In his triumphal moment of inauguration, he gave a flat speech about addressing our challenges as mature adults.  He has developed no narrative about why we are in trouble and no vision about how to move forward.

Carter was primaried by liberal giant Ted Kennedy.  Carter won the primary, but lost the election to a smooth-talking actor adored by the right-wing who had honed his media skills for years after his stint as governor of a Western state. A lot of the election turned on images of the confident,charismatic, sexy challenger trumping the inept, overly-professorial incumbent.

Though Reagan did not win by that huge a margin, he devoted his PR machine to touting the Reagan Revolution.  He met over 70 times with Congresspeople to get his historic tax cut bill passed.  He developed a clear narrative of good and evil in American life. He always kept his Right Wing base happy.

When is Obama going to wake up and smell the humus?

Originally posted to leftymama on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 02:28 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  In some ways, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jmaier, Engine 08

    but these are different times also.  Carter turned right in 1978 and tried to end inflation by making working people make the sacrifices.

    Obama has done something as bad now.  

    Things did not work in 1978-80.  Peopel felt it.

    That's similar.

    But they are different people.  Obama, with the help of a Dem Congress arguably has accomplished more so far.

    in the end, historcial analogies only go so far.

    Trumka: "Absolutely Insane" to Extend Tax Cuts for Millionaires

    by TomP on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 02:31:18 PM PST

  •  Oh lord. (18+ / 0-)

    Actually Carter wasn't as "horrible" or "weak" as he is portrayed.  Like now, it was an amazingly difficult time -- a major, long recession with inflation and price instability.  The aftermath of a decade of Nixonian politics.  Kennedy could have been helpful if he  didn't have unfulfilled Presidential ambitions of his own.

    "Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will." MLK

    by jmaier on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 02:33:02 PM PST

  •  Shut up (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    amk for obama, janemas

    Go away.


    by Mark Warner is God on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 02:35:03 PM PST

    •  Get out much? (0+ / 0-)

      This inane comparisons are as wearisome as comment inspectors up and downing every bit of flotsam and jetsam that gets posted.

      In point of fact, I was making much the same point as TomP after groaning about the diary thesis/title so you can most respectfully p*ss off.

      "Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will." MLK

      by jmaier on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 02:43:51 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Ill-advised, my friend (0+ / 0-)

      Why not just ignore diarists you despise, or settle for "No T or R for this"?  Someday you'll be in an argument with another Kossack who will link to that comment to "prove" his/her negative assertion about you.  

      "A city for sale and doomed to speedy destruction if it finds a purchaser!" --King Jugurtha

      by LucyandByron on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 05:31:35 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Carter was also dumped by the left and primaried, (10+ / 0-)

    making it easy for the right to "tar him" as any damn thing they wanted.

    All goes onward and outward. . . .and nothing collapses, And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier

    by kat68 on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 02:38:42 PM PST

    •  Exactly (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lawrence, kalmoth
      Carter lacked flash, he lacked bling, he was about humility and sacrifice and intelligence, and that just didn't sell to Americans of most stripes.
    •  Primaried By a Kennedy Not Merely "the Left" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Don't worry, we don't have any billionaire champions to make a damaging run that the left itself didn't and doesn't have the power to create.

      The only one in sight is Bloomberg and there won't be naked hippies involved if he announces a challenge.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 04:15:41 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Carter wasn't that bad (11+ / 0-)

    The country would be much better if he had won in 1980.

    If Kennedy had won the primary, however, we'd be doing better still. Carter was extremely competitive for most of the election, and the only reason he lost was because of the bad economy and the hostage crisis. Kennedy could have separated himself from those issues, and I do believe he would have won over Reagan.

    •  Probably mostly the hostage crisis. It was (6+ / 0-)

      Reagan's secret negotiations to keep the hostages hostages to give him a shot at winning that actually did win it for him.  Talk about someone with absolutely no ethics and no morality.

      Where Carter was weak, though, was in negotiating and deal making.  He does have that in common with Obama, but even there, they're respective lack of skills differ considerably.  And other than that, I see very little similarity.  Plus, I don't know what relevance it would have if they indeed were more similar.

      "If you trust you are not critical; if you are critical you do not trust" by our own Dauphin

      by gustynpip on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 02:58:22 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Lil Wayne? (0+ / 0-)

    Get it, Carter II. By the way I heard Repubs say Obama was Carter since he was elected so not really revolutionary thinking here.

  •  I think he's Clinton III. (5+ / 0-)

    A bunch of Third Way/DLC/Corporatist policies.

    I bet Obama wins re-election and continues to govern as a DLC Democrat.

    Puddles of their own bodily fluids will lie beneath their desk chairs.

    by Bob Johnson on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 02:48:53 PM PST

  •  I discussed your question (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

    by teacherken on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 02:52:43 PM PST

  •  No (10+ / 0-)
    1. There isn't going to be any primary challenge by a viable big-name. It's not going to happen. A. The Ghost of Ralph Nader. B. Fear of the loss of African-American voters.
    1. Ronald Reagan ran, much like the GOP did in 1994, as a new thing. The GOP, rotten and wretched as they are, are a known quantity. There is no Ronald Reagan-esque GOP candidate.
    1. Times have changed. Obama is getting screwed because of a bad economy, yes, but also the Right has a huge echo-chamber,and Citizen's United to drown the low-information voter with lies, it could only dream of back in 1980.

    And you get your facts wrong. The Jimmy Carter of myth and legend, and the Jimmy Carter who actually existed, are not the same thing. The so-called "Malaise speech" was, in fact, popular. The idea that it was a disaster is largely revisionist history that has become conventional wisdom. It was a popular speech, and it was popular nation-wide. It was only when Carter up and fired his entire cabinet not long afterwards that any momentum he might have gotten from that moment sputtered out.

    It's odd that one decries Obama not getting it, by using the Movement Conservative's bop-bag Jimmy Carter frame. A fruit of the victors getting to write the history books, I suppose.

    We will win, or lose, in 2012 with Obama as the candidate. The only thing that has really changed in the last few months is that Obama could actually lose in 2012, something that was unlikely when he only had Sarah Palin or a Bob Dole-like sacrificial lamb.

    And, yes, Obama has to accept some of the blame for current circumstances.

    The GOP thinking they can eat him for lunch is a real problem.

    If he was as tough on the GOP as he was on liberal commentators who have little or no real power he wouldn't be facing so much ire. The reality is, Obama doesn't see the value of fighting and fighting until he has no choice but to accept a bad deal. Politics is a part of the job. You sell people who disagree with you by trying as hard as you can, not quickly folding and scolding those who are taken by surprise. But it's not all him. He's a reflection of his party, not some outlier who is uniquely to blame.

    What has changed is that the GOP is now emboldened, and GOP candidates who were likely to sit out 2012 in favor of 2016 may reconsider running now rather than later.

    But this is not a Barack Obama problem, this is a Democratic Party problem. The whole party in DC each contributed their part to this big clusterfuck, and it can't be compartmentalized on Obama.

    The House and Senate didn't vote on the middle-class tax cut before election day, and that was a huge failure that can't be laid at Obama's feet.

    Right now, the whole Democratic Party is wired to fail. There is no simple, or easy, or fast way to fix that.

    What we have learned is that if we start now, 20 years from now we might have the party we all longed for in 2000 when the netroots really rose up and started to become something more than the sum of its parts.

    •  Neither Obama Nor Dem Has Had One Watt of (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      energy in any kind of program to enlarge the voter base, not since LBJ.

      Their lack of communication effort --forget skill-- is utterly inexplicable unless you see them as a second conservative party intending to govern first for business, that is as threatened by large majorities as it is by big losses. The only source of large majorities are the working poor, poor and marginalized ethnic communities whose needs would require imposing seriously on the economy.

      A broad and deep sweep of other evidence is consistent with this view.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 04:24:11 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Candidate Obama Didn't Make It To The WH.. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    leftymama, Marmaduke2

    and I'm worried about what happened to him.

    This Republican guy who's in there now may look like Obama but he sure doesn't act or sound like him.

  •  No (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Statusquomustgo, GlowNZ, FG, trumpeter

    Obama isn't Carter.  He isn't Clinton.  He isn't Reagan and nor is he FDR or Kennedy.  He's Obama.  I don't know why people have to think that politicians are the second coming of somebody else.
    Carter was MUCH weaker on the foreign policy aspect.  Other than the hardcore right, Obama isn't portrayed as weak on the world stage nearly as bad as Carter was (because he really was, so it was easy.)
    Obama = Cater is getting really old.  And so is Obama = Clinton.  Obama = Obama and nothing else.

  •  No. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lawrence, kalmoth, Lost and Found

    Next question?

    If I show my support and enthusiasm for positive change, I create an environment that enables the change to be made even better.

    by Richard Cranium on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 03:04:22 PM PST

  •  Carter was actually an outsider. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Indexer, Knarfc

    Not like the faux outsiders we've seen since then.  

    And he mostly remained an outsider.

    (What to me is most unforgivable about Carter and his Presidency is that he made religion a political issue that candidates and Presidents are supposed to speak about and use to get votes.)

    Bring Our JOBS and Troops Home NOW!

    by Marie on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 03:05:25 PM PST

  •  Nope not at all (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    He is Herbert Hoover.

    His overconcern with the deficit and his inability to get the Congress (even all members of his own party) to do any sort of relief for the unemployed or infrastructure investments mean that we will arrive in 2012 with a double-dip recession and an even more ballooning deficit.

    That said, he likely will not have primary opposition.  Who credibly would be able to pick up the African-American voters given the way Obama has been savaged by Republicans?  That is just the beginning of the difficulties of a primary campaign.  What Democratic candidate would want to run in the political environment that will be there in 2012.

    And he will likely win re-election.  The question is whether he can win with a Congress that will force him to act like FDR.  And building that Congress is where we come in an have some power.  But we have a geographical problem.  Progressives are not in enough Congressional Districts in enough numbers to affect the Congress unless we do a better job of persuading our friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers of the wisdom of things like infrastructure development as stimulus, real improvement in education and a reduction of high-stakes testing, reducing the deficit by paying for the two wars we have been fighting for a decade in addition to a bloated military-industrial complex, reinstitution of automatic adjustments to offset the ups and downs of the business cycle (such as more effective unemployment insurance and automatic financial transaction taxes during booms to prevent bubbles), reducing the work week, strengthening the ability of workers to get overtime pay, single payer healthcare, and so on.  And that's just domestic policy.  What is US foreign policy after we withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan and have reduced the power of al Quaeda-style networks?  How do we face no longer being capable financially of being the sole hyperpower?

    50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

    by TarheelDem on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 03:10:18 PM PST

    •  Re-elected? Seriously? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Did you see how bad Democrats had their ass kicked in Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania.  Maybe PA is salvageable, but no way Ohio or Florida goes Democrat in 2012. You can forget VA, Indiana, Iowa and NC as well - no way those purple states go blue in 2012, 2008 was an aberration. That's 93 vote swing, not including PA, without the Repub having to lift a finger, basically putting it tied. At that point, all they have to do is get NH, NM, CO or NV.  Hell, with the census change, they may not even need this.

      Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence. Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear. ~William E. Gladstone, 1866

      by absdoggy on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 08:30:32 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It ain't over until it's over (0+ / 0-)

        And Republicans are going to have the House for two years, reminding folks about what they disliked about W.

        It all depends on the Republican candidate, actually.

        And there are only three to worry about: Mittens, John Thune, and Bloomberg.  Mittens won't pass the religious right because he's a Mormon. John Thune has already announced that he won't run.  And Bloomberg will run as an independent if he runs, losing the bulk of the current Republican Party.  It is not inconceiveable that in a race in which Bloomberg is an independent, Republicans could come in third.

        They are going to have difficulties in jiggering redistricting because they have gerrymandered so many states already.  North Carolina might change, but I don't see a big change in representation unless the Supreme Court strikes down minority-majority districts.

        It's not going to be easy.  Indeed 2008 wasn't.  And there won't be the enthusiasm.  But Obama is likely to get more dissatisfied Republicans and independents, unless a third party candidate bleeds them off.

        50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

        by TarheelDem on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 08:49:48 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  No (0+ / 0-)

    He's the second term of Bush I.

  •  Sadly, the right aren't the only ones tarring (0+ / 0-)

    Obama as weak.

    :sigh: Just another day at DailyRedstate...

    by second gen on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 03:32:32 PM PST

  •  according to Kos hes actually (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Neville Chamberlain.

    and funnily enough the right thinks he is too.

    RIP Pike Miners We will never forget

    by GlowNZ on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 03:47:43 PM PST

  •  You believe the repugs rewrite of Carter who in (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    betson08, gustynpip, trumpeter, absdoggy

    face was more intelligent and honest than all the people who push that lie propaganda you believe?

    Carte was a damn good prez, the senators and reps were the morons.

  •  Carter actually stood up to Congress (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gustynpip, absdoggy

    and won a lot of battles, bad PR aside. Did you see the 60 minutes interview with him? He's still proud of that. He also recognized that he had serious problems getting along with both Congress and the press.

    It seems to me that Obama with his concessions is trying too hard to get along, and compromising his and our values to death.

    Therefore, I don't think he's like Carter at all. The fact that both faced extremely difficult situations as President and got unfairly pummeled in the press, are the only similarities I see.

  •  He is more George H.W. than Carter (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    After that brief Gulf War in 1991, George H.W. had a lot of positive vibes coming his way.  Then the recession of that period really kicked in, and he squandered all that good will and got himself primaried.

    Obama had a lot of goodwill when he came into office, but over the last year and a half, in the middle of a recession, he too has squandered it.  Now he's facing the real possibility that he will also earn himself a primary challenge.

  •  I saw a bumper sticker today: "I Miss Bill" n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    It's not just a zip code, it's an attitude.

    by sboucher on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 04:22:55 PM PST

    •  Our Revisionist Progressive Champion? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I'm a fan of President Clinton but he was hardly the progressive light -- he was the DLC when being DLC was still cool.  

      "Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will." MLK

      by jmaier on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 04:41:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I have met Predicent Carter, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gustynpip, evangeline135

    and I remember the Carter Presidency.

    Obama is no Jimmy Carter.

    I had, and have a great admiration for Carter - he did his level best against spectacular odds, with a determined and engaged and entrenched enemy in a horrible time for the country.  He was not the best man for the job, perhaps, and was not the ideal president but he tried very hard.

    As an outsider, he had little idea of the Washington machine he would be faced with, and that, along with his idealism, destroyed any good he tried to do.

    But he was far better than the spin machine gives him credit for.

    My life is an open book, and I want a rewrite!

    by trumpeter on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 04:34:36 PM PST

  •  The answer is no. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gustynpip, absdoggy

    Jimmy Carter had principles, a guiding light, and accomplishments in office.  

    The best Obama can claim is he did something.  

    "I wonder how many times you have to be hit on the head before you find out who's hitting you?" Harry Truman - 1948

    by ThAnswr on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 04:56:56 PM PST

  •  This is a BAD comparison (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gustynpip, leftymama, absdoggy

    Whatever you think of Jimmy Carter, he was not afraid of pushing unpopular policy that he believed in.  Look at his energy policy and foreign policy.  Obama is more worried about staying above the fray and seems constantly afraid of losing his "political capital" by actually attempting to use it.  Could you imagine Obama making a "Crisis of Confidence" speech?

    Carter's administration was not the most successful in passing groundbreaking legislation.  But he had a much different approach than Obama.  Carter was more hands-on when it came time to shape his legislation.  Obama seems to want to let congress sort it out rather than take a leadership role.

  •  No, try Nick Clegg (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I gained respect for Carter as time went on.  I liked Clegg when he wrote for the Nation, and have been disappointed in him.  

    "A city for sale and doomed to speedy destruction if it finds a purchaser!" --King Jugurtha

    by LucyandByron on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 05:33:25 PM PST

  •  Possibly More Like Gerald Ford Junior (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I want to tun that past my wingnut neighbor and see if he still feels like he needs to rebel against the looming dictatorship.

    •  god, ford and nixon and all of those guys were (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      to the left of where obama is now.

      It's amazing how the right remade the ideological landscape.

      And they didn't do it by compromising on their core principles.  They did it by keeping control of their party and their message.  Liberals have lost control of the democratic party and we must get it back.

  •  Holy shit, did I stumble on free republic (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    by accident.. I could have sworn I saw a similar post there!

    Daily Kos has gone mad!!

    by HGM MA on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 07:29:29 PM PST

  •  No, Carter was much better than Obama (0+ / 0-)

    Under Carter, GDP growth was 3.2%.  Carter cut gov't spending and alienated his base doing so, but the fact is he was working with the Fed to kill off an inflation monster that many of us now can't even remember. Fact is, Carter did perfectly, and inflation was finally killed.  The Fed fucked it up by keeping interest rates too high too long, thereby causing the "misery index" to stay high unnecessarily.

    Carter created 10 million net jobs, and a higher % in the private sector versus public. Obama will never see that sort of job growth.

    He fucked up the hostage crisis in many ways, but he didn't react like nutjob Bush did and send the country into Iran with endless war that cost our country billions and thousands of American lives.

    No, Obama will never be half the president Carter was.

    Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence. Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear. ~William E. Gladstone, 1866

    by absdoggy on Thu Dec 09, 2010 at 08:19:47 PM PST

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