Carter Was Right About Malaise! And We're Wrong About Obama and Cardigans!


Over at Ballon Juice, John Cole takes umbrage at Matt Welch and my Sunday Wash Post op-ed about Obama's flagging domestic agenda. Go here to read our piece and go here to check out a live (now dead) chat on same. The short version: Obama can either become a latter-day Jimmy Carter or a Bill Clinton, depending on how he chooses to govern. If he remains a crisis-mongerer a la George Bush, hello one term.

The Juice man speaketh:

Yeah—Obama sucks because the minority hates him, the economic crisis he inherited will last into next year, and because the decades of mistakes will take more than a few weeks to correct. I suppose the most annoying thing about the Carter comparison is that it comes around the anniversary of the malaise speech, and you should read it again to see how much of what Carter was right then about, he is still right about today:

What you see too often in Washington and elsewhere around the country is a system of government that seems incapable of action. You see a Congress twisted and pulled in every direction by hundreds of well-financed and powerful special interests. You see every extreme position defended to the last vote, almost to the last breath by one unyielding group or another. You often see a balanced and a fair approach that demands sacrifice, a little sacrifice from everyone, abandoned like an orphan without support and without friends.

I'd start by condemning Reason HQ and forcing sneering glibertarians to go Galt.

Whole post, plus an update in which Cole defends cardigans and slags libertarian fashion (if there is such a thing).

Obama did not simply inherit the "economic crisis." As a senator, he aided and abetted it for as long as he was in office and certainly by voting for TARP. And as we pointed out in the Post piece, his gutless signing of a pork-laden omnibus spending bill and an emergency war supplemental don't exactly increase Obama bona fides as anything other than a budget buster. Indeed, read Obama's own budget to see the prez's own take on just how big a hole in the economy his proposed plan will create over the next decade.

As for Carter, let's agree on this much: The problem in Washington isn't that the government is incapable of action. There's way too much action going on, much of it ill-thought-out and most of it destructive of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Carter had his moments for sure. The deregulation of interstate trucking and airline ticket prices are among the two best policy shifts of the past 40 years or so. The malaise speech is not one of his, or the country's, high points. For more on that, read Ron Bailey on the matter.

For more on Obama's flagging numbers, go here.