Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Jimmy Carter Redux
By Alan Caruba
It is inevitable that the current first and, hopefully, last term of Barack Obama will be compared to that of Jimmy Carter’s, 1977-1981. Until then, no sitting President had ever failed to have been reelected since Herbert Hoover in 1932. The stock market had crashed in 1929 and the U.S. was sliding into what would be a decade-long depression.
Carter, a holier-than-thou former Governor of Georgia captured the public’s attention after the sordid ordeal of Watergate, followed by a genial Jerry Ford whom the press relentlessly portrayed as a bumbling fool. Four years later, it was Carter’s turn because his policies were relentlessly liberal with the worst possible outcomes.
The comparisons between Carter and Obama are instructive. When Carter arrived in office in 1977, the nation was recovering from a severe recession from 1973 to 1975. Unemployment stood at 9% and economic growth had slowed. Sound familiar? Only today economic recovery rates are actually less than Carter’s 3.4%.
The second half of Carter’s term was a slight improvement, but was plagued by events that included the Russian invasion of Afghanistan and the taking of U.S. diplomats as hostages of the Iranian revolution in 1979. Presidents are elected to deal with such events, but Jimmy Carter had a pure genius for coming to the wrong conclusion or electing to take the wrong course of action.
Much of what we now see as President Obama’s agenda is a reflection of Carter’s. In the same way the Congress continues to refuse American’s access to their own oil and their own coal to fuel economic growth, Carter inflicted a “windfall profit tax” on the nation’s oil industry, thus drying up domestic exploration in favor of seeking it elsewhere. It put oil industry personnel out of work and did nothing to encourage “energy efficiency” initiatives. The tax was repealed in 1988 when prices collapsed as more oil became available worldwide.
Liberals are constantly dazzled by the promise of “conserving energy” when the only real way of doing so is to not use it. This, of course, is never an option. Try getting through breakfast without using energy. Need it be said that Carter put solar panels on the roof of the White House? Or that Ronald Reagan ordered them removed? Wind, solar, and biofuels have been sucking billions out of the pockets of Americans in the form of subsidies and hidden taxes on gasoline for decades.
Carter also came up with the Department of Energy which, of course, he thought would save energy. Created in 1977 to lesson dependence on foreign oil, it now has some 16,000 employees and a budget around $24 billion. And we are importing more oil than ever before. Compare that with the fact that the top three U.S. oil companies paid $42.8 billion in 2010 income taxes.
Barack Obama received a Nobel Peace Prize just for showing up. Carter received it for the Camp David accords in 1978 between Israel and Egypt that greatly eased the tensions between the two nations. The Palestinians hated it. Egypt’s president, Anwar Sadat, was assassinated by the Muslim Brotherhood for agreeing to it. Carter came away from the experience with an animus toward Israel exceeded only by Obama’s.
When events outside his control seemed to conspire against Carter, those within it sabotaged him repeatedly. In 1977, he returned control of the Panama Canal to the nation of Panama even though most Americans opposed it. The Canal, for all intents and purposes, is controlled by China after they purchased important military facilities at both end of it.
In December 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. This is what happens when America’s enemies conclude that it is weak. The invasion, ironically, would hasten the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, although that is generally attributed to the reduction in oil prices, its single, major export.
The final coup de gras for Carter was the Iranian hostage crisis in 1979 after the overthrow of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. A military operation to rescue the hostages failed and Carter spent most of the rest of his time in the Oval Office, unseen and unlamented until his defeat in 1980.
Carter has not distinguished himself much since leaving office and the debris of mindlessly liberal “answers” to problems they created. He has criticized Israel for practicing “apartheid” even though the Palestinians continue to refuse to seek peace. Meanwhile, Obama’s big move in the Middle East was to throw a longtime ally, Egypt’s Hosni Mubarack, under the bus and seeking an approach to the Muslim Brotherhood. Obama also managed to involve the U.S. in an undeclared war on Libya.
Americans are still suffering from Carter’s incompetence and weakness, and thirty years from now, today’s younger generations of Americans will be paying the price for Obama’s efforts to destroy the nation’s economy.
© Alan Caruba, 2011