This period is identical in so many ways to the Carter years in the White House.
Americans were down on America during those years. They had suffered through a lousy economy, high unemployment. They were discouraged by high fuel prices. And inflation.
The President had little good to say about the country. He did not use the word “malaise”. But his depressing remarks in speeches and interviews made clear he felt America was slipping.
“The threat is nearly invisible in ordinary ways,” Carter told us. “It is a crisis of confidence. It is a crisis that strikes at the very heart and soul of our national will. We can see this crisis in the growing doubt about the meaning of our own lives and in the loss of a unity of purpose for our nation.”
Someone could have made a fortune marketing Jimmy Carter glasses – featuring the darkest of lenses.
Does any of this sound familiar? Pollsters tell us Americans are very much down on America these days. We are suffering through a lousy economy, high unemployment. Many are discouraged by high fuel prices and inflation.
The President tells us we are not up to much these days. Last week he said “We have lost our ambition, our imagination, and our willingness to do the things that built the Golden Gate Bridge.” A few weeks ago he said “This is a great, great country that had gotten a little soft and, you know, we didn’t have that same competitive edge that we needed over the last couple of decades.”
You could make money marketing the Obama Dark Dark Tinted Teleprompter.
In the Carter era the stock market flopped. For years, it went nowhere. Pundits claimed capitalism was on the rocks. The left cried out for government to spread the wealth around and to rescue the poor.
We could change one word in that paragraph and feel it describes conditions today. Change the word “Carter” to “Obama.”
People believed America was in decline in the Carter era, and in the years that preceded it. The Soviets and Iranians embarrassed us, seemed to shove us around. Hello.
President Carter cut the defense budget. He told us our fears of communism were overblown. Hello. President Obama is cutting the defense budget. He tells us our fears of Islamic militarism are overblown.
President Carter disliked big oil. He punished it with regulations and called for extra taxes on oil companies. He had the government pour billions into programs to produce alternate fuels. They bombed.
President Obama dislikes big oil. He keeps looking for ways to impede the oil industry. He badmouths oil companies. He had the government pour billions into programs to produce alternate power. Some of them have bombed. Others do not look too promising.
When Carter ran for a second term his opponent called for freeing oil companies from smothering government regulation. He called government the problem, not the solution, to many of our problems. He called for reforming our tax system.
What sort of candidate do you feel will be facing President Obama next year? What proposals will he or she promote? You can already hear the echoes from the last Carter campaign.
Here is a good exercise. Google Milton Friedman, the free-market economist. Get his video series or book Free to Choose. Listen to his comments on YouTube. He came to popular fame in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. His popularity was a product of the frustrations of those years.
The comments he made then sound as if he made them last week. In large part because conditions today are so similar to those the country faced back then.
From Tom ... as in Morgan.
For more columns and for Tom’s radio shows and new TV shows (and to write to Tom): tomasinmorgan.com.