October 21, 2012

The Obama-Carter Coincidenza

by Hal Gershowitz

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A number of years ago when the television comedy show Saturday Night Live was in its infancy, one of the continuing gags they had was of a comedic Catholic priest played by Don Novello who took on the persona of a fictional priest named Father Guido Sarducci.  Father Sarducci, in one of his routines, had a skit called the “Carter Coolidge Coincidenza” in which Father Sarducci made comparisons to Jimmy Carter and Calvin Coolidge with such important comparisons as Carter’s name started with a “C” and Coolidge’s name started with a “C”.

We were reminded of that skit when we thought back on the more modern coincidenza of Carter and Obama.  In fact, this particular coincidenza is not just a comedic channeling of Father Sarducci, but is far more serious and far more alarming.  No rational thinker could call the Carter presidency anything but a disaster.  The fact that President Obama has surpassed Carter’s fecklessness is terribly alarming, and the evidence continues to mount that President Obama has morphed into President Jimmy Carter on speed.  Even Maureen Dowd, this summer, expressed in her column that Democratic lawmakers worry that the Tea Party freshmen in Congress have already neutered the President, and that Obama is an inept negotiator.  They worry that he should have been out in the country selling a concrete plan rather than once more kowtowing to Republicans and, as with the stimulus plan, health plan and Libya, leading from behind.  Dowd quotes one complaining Democratic senator, “The President veers between talking like a peevish professor and a scolding parent.  He has morphed into Jimmy Carter and has moved into Jimmy Carter’s personality in the last four years.”  What are the valid comparisons between the presidencies of Obama and Carter that even has  Democratic senators complaining.

Fox News pointed out that they both have terrible management styles; Carter was a micromanager who even had to decide who played on the White House tennis court.  Obama has an ineffective management style because he is the ultimate delegator who likes being president, but doesn’t like the work.  He subcontracted leadership on the health care plan (that most Americans did not want) to Congress; on spending and the economy to the Vice President and foreign affairs to Secretary Clinton.

The most obvious comparison is with policy toward Iran.  Carter’s presidency was brought down by the Iranian hostage crisis when 51 Americans were held against their will for 444 days, in an act of war where Carter did nothing effective. The Ayatollahs flipped the bird to Carter by waiting until Ronald Reagan was sworn as President, before releasing the hostages.  As for Obama, he ran on a platform of contrition and has continued to apologize to foreign enemy powers for past American aggression, and pledged to usher in a new approach toward Iran that would bring better relations between the U.S. and Iran.  If anyone can find those better relations, please let us know; we must not have been reading the same newspapers.  Obama has failed to bring Iran around, and in fact, they held hostage two American hikers who apparently meandered over the border for over a year-and-a-half before they finally released them.  They brutally cracked down on their own people and they have accelerated their plans to build nuclear weapons.  His reset of relations with Russia has gotten a Russian bear’s thumb in the U.S. eye.

During Carter’s administration the price of gas doubled from $.60 to $1.35. And so far as Obama is concerned, the price of gas has more than doubled during his ineffective term of office.  He set in place a moratorium on drilling off shore and on any federal land.  He has ignored the virtual Saudi Arabian oil and gas reserves sitting underneath our soil and available through safe and effective fracking procedures.  As the Wall Street Journal noted on October 15:

“President Obama is campaigning as a champion of the oil and gas boom he’s had nothing to do with, and even as his regulators try to stifle it.  The latest example is the Interior Department’s little‑noticed August decision to close off from drilling nearly half of the 23.5 million acre National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska.

The area is called the National Petroleum Reserve because in 1976 Congress designated it as a strategic oil and natural gas stockpile to meet the “energy needs of the nation.”  Alaska favors exploration in nearly the entire reserve.  The feds had been reviewing four potential development plans, and the state of Alaska had strongly objected to the most restrictive of the four.  Sure enough, that was the Plan Interior chose.”

During the Carter administration the Misery Index (unemployment plus inflation) crested at 20%, the highest number since World War II.  As we have previously written on several occasions during the Obama years, unemployment, which was high when he came into office, has gone even higher.  Government spending has accelerated to the point that our national debt exceeds $16 trillion and just last week, the government reported that the most recent fiscal year showed another $1 trillion of deficit.

Insofar as Libya is concerned, it is not clear what the outcome will be.  One of the great outrages, reminiscent again of Carter, more of which will soon come to light, is, of course, the murder by terrorists of our Ambassador and three other Americans at our consulate in Benghazi.  The Administration first took the position that the raid was a response to a videotape ridiculing the Prophet Mohammad. While the President, in his now famously mischaracterized Rose Garden remarks, made vague and general references to American resolve to never give in to terrorism, he did not call the attack in Benghazi an act of terror; quite the opposite. He and his top officials talked endlessly about the absurd video trailer and the spontaneity of the attack in response to that video. That yarn had to be abandoned when it became quite clear that there had been no demonstrations at the consulate that the attackers who came to the Embassy were armed with heavy weapons and had probably never even heard of the tape.  But the President’s spokesmen continued in effect to say:  “That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.” They may not be able to stick to it very long if in fact Secretary Clinton is called before Congress to testify as to what she discussed with the president. The fact is that both Carter and Obama failed to protect their diplomats.

While we are comparing Obama and Carter, when it comes to jobs, Congressman Ryan said, “President Obama makes the Jimmy Carter years look like the good old days.”  If we fired Jimmy Carter then, why would we rehire Barack Obama now?  It seems clear, especially given the two prior attacks on the consulate in the spring and summer, and just released cables in which Ambassador Stevens begged for more security for weeks right up to the day of the attack in which he lost his life, that the Obama Administration’s decisions regarding security at the consulate in Benghazi created conditions which all but assured that the attacks on the U.S. missions could occur.  The attacks of Libya and Egypt underscore that the world remains a dangerous place and that American leadership is still sorely needed.  Both Carter and Obama criticized their opponents for not giving the President a pass and saying that this is a time for Americans to act together.  Well, that is what we have elections for.  While we all agree that America comes first, the American public deserves the truth, and the truth can only be brought out through honest and open debate.  The public will have to judge for itself during the foreign policy debate, (or any other campaign statements during the next three weeks) whether the President and his Administration have been dutifully truthful or deliberately deceitful.

Where is our mainstream free press, including that New York paper whose motto is “All the news that’s fit to print,” now that we really need it?

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2 responses to “The Obama-Carter Coincidenza”

  1. Mark J Levick says:

    It should also be noted that both Carter and Obama have a deep antipathy to the leadership of the State of Israel and in Carter’s case and perhaps Obama’s to Israel itself. They both are Arabists. So too is the editorial staff of the paper that that prints only the news it sees fit to print and slants even that news.

  2. Andrew Porter says:

    The comparison would not be complete unless Obama lost his bid for reelection in an unmitigated trouncing. Unfortunately, I don’t see that happening.

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