Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Obama as Carter

Andy Busch doesn’t think that Obama reminds us of McGovern so much as Jimmy Carter. Like Carter, Obama is a substantively vacuous charmer with minimal big-time experience. Like Carter, Obama has based his campaign on a general promise of change and a general posture of piety. Like Carter, Obama is devoted to "healing" the nation after a harsh period of divisiveness. Like Carter, Obama has suffered gaffes, but has maintained a reservoir of support that refuses to desert him. And, like Carter, despite his flaws, he is still the odds-on favorite to win the presidency in November. You can see what else is coming: If Obama is elected he will likely be a failure because we have to note the fact that "he has thus far demonstrated no concrete capacity to govern." An altogether thoughtful piece.   

Discussions - 4 Comments

If Obama is elected he will likely be a failure

A "failure" by what criteria? Even Jimmy is a success (if only moderate) by liberal criteria...

Jimmy Carter was the worst President of the last 100 years.

worst President of the last 100 years.

By your unstated (unexamined?) criteria, but not by a modern liberals - not even close...

Obama as Carter is a pretty fair analogy. Liberalism disguised as moderation, arrogant social-gospel Christianity in the guise of humility,
pretensions to a pastoral or prophetic role for the nation, a claim (phonier in Obama's case) to personal honesty, "newness," inexperience, incompetence, and even identity politics. It is on this final count that there may be trouble with the Carter analogy. As a (white) Southerner, born-again, relatively unknown, apparent man of the people, Jimmah in 1976 was a natural contender for the votes of 1972 Nixon Democrats and what would be, in 1980, Reagan Democrats. He nailed southern Ohio.
Obama is a black Chicagoan raised in Hawaii and abroad. He has an utterly foreign name. Although in some sense a Christian, Obama is not known as a born-again, and, I suspect, can't talk that talk very persuasively. He is a product of Harvard -- and sounds like it. Michael Barone suggests, without really saying, that Obama probably won't win the Jacksonian areas of Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, Missouri, Arkansas. That remains to be seen, but it's a difference between him and Carter. That electoral difference aside, the analogy is substantively a good one.

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