Does Obama = Jimmy Carter?

Elsewhere I have argued that Obama = George W. Bush simply because Obama keeps sticking with Bush’s policies on just about everything … except deficit spending where he has chosen to be more like George on Steroids.

So it must come as good news to the lefties that there is an opposing view of just who Obama is patterning himself after.  Here’s the highlights:

Obama’s Awful ’70s Show Echoes Jimmy Carter

by Eric Alterman

Gas prices are heading toward $5, single-family home sales are at a low—and with President Obama ignoring his base like Jimmy Carter did, he could end up being another one-term president, Eric Alterman writes.

Can You Spell “M-A-L-A-I-S-E?”

Hmm.  Malaise?  Yea, that is sounding familiar.  Just look around you.

Stylistically speaking, Barack Obama could hardly be further from Jimmy Carter if he really had been born in Kenya. Carter was a born-again Baptist who was raised on his father’s peanut plantation and supported George Wallace on the road to the Georgia state house. Barack Obama—well, you know the story. But the two men have a great deal in common in their approach to the presidency, and not one of these similarities is good news for the Democrats or even for America. Both men rule without regard to the concerns of the base of their party. Both held themselves to be above politics when it came to making tough decisions. Both were possessed with superhuman self-confidence when it came to their own political judgment mixed with contempt for what they understood to be the petty concerns of pundits and party leaders. And worst of all, one fears, neither one appeared willing to change course no matter how many storm clouds loomed on the horizon.

Well that was the ‘70s, you say, and America is a different country these days. True enough, but while history never repeats itself, political patterns do. More and more, Democrats are starting to worry they that they have a more um, colorful version of Jimmy Carter on their hands. Obama acts cool as a proverbial cucumber but that awful ‘70s show seems frightfully close to a rerun.

Altman then goes on to list a number of key similarities he sees between Obama and Carter:

  • Rising gas prices.
  • The New York Times reports that, “New single-family home sales are now lower than at any point since the data was first collected in 1963, when the nation had 120 million fewer residents.”
  • Organized labor is losing patience with Obama as unemployment remains near 9% and he is pushing job killing trade agreements.
  • Low confidence in the President’s leadership or direction.
  • Altman writes, “Obama, like Carter, is reacting to these warning signs not by rallying his own side, or focusing on those aspects of his party’s platforms that remain popular, but by seeking to split the difference between dispirited Democrats and increasingly radicalized Republicans.”
  • Rather than taking these warning signs to heart and engaging his base, Obama is turning his back on his party’s platform by calling for less money in taxes and smaller cuts in defense.  Carter on the other hand, “[Turned] his back on [Tip] O’Neill, his party and its primary constituencies, he accepted the Republican argument that the only way to solve the country’s economic problems was to attack the deficit.”

But Altman is not the only one noticing similarities to Jimmy Carter.  Joseph Klein discusses another Carter similarity: Stagflation.

What “Hope and Change” Means in Real Life: Obama’s Economic Stagflation

by Joseph Klein

Can you say stagflation? The Jimmy Carter years may be repeating themselves as the Obama economy continues to flounder. U.S. economic growth slowed to a 1.8 percent annual rate in the first quarter of 2011, after a 3.1 percent fourth quarter pace last year. Meanwhile, food and gasoline prices have sent the broad measure of inflation rising at its fastest pace in 2-1/2 years. To make matters worse, more people sought unemployment benefits last week. This was the second increase in applications for unemployment benefits in three weeks.Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke hinted yesterday that such disturbing news was in the offing, at the first scheduled press conference in the Fed’s history. But, no doubt in an effort to calm the markets, he played down the significance of the lower growth and higher inflation figures as transitory.

Bernanke did acknowledge, however, that inflation concerns would most likely keep the Fed from engaging in additional quantitative easing – i.e., printing money to spur growth – after the current round of $600 billion in Treasury securities purchases ends in June: “The trade-offs are getting harder at this point. Inflation is getting higher …


2 Comments on “Does Obama = Jimmy Carter?”

  1. [...] have been saying that Obama is looking more and more like Jimmy Carter for some time now, so I was pleased to see that others are observing the same similarities.  When even Maureen Dowd [...]

  2. mplo says:

    Barack Obama is more like George W. Bush than Jimmy Carter, in a number of respects. Just saying.


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