Let me first always remind readers that polls are a snapshot in time. Two years from now, President Obama could be sitting on top of the world politically. But for now, he has lost all but 38 percent approval from the critical "independent" American voters. They're the ones that gave him the presidency. He appears headstrong in his determination to show the nation what a disastrous presidency looks like.
Pundits often point to the presidency of Jimmy Carter as the modern example of a failed leader. It is no secret that I have, despite my former years as an active Republican, always viewed the Carter administration with a kinder overall assessment than have most of my friends. That's partly because, like Carter, I'm a Georgian. I grew up knowing many Carter friends and associates. I also know many behind-the-scenes stories that shape my view of him.
I no longer feel the need to defend Carter, largely because of the direction the Obama presidency has taken. Let's compare the two administrations.
First, national health care. It was Carter's intra-party nemesis at the time -- the rabidly liberal Sen. Ted Kennedy, now deceased, who pushed Carter over and over to create a universal health care program. Carter demurred. He suggested that instead it should be brought about incrementally. He figured an immediate, all-out push for it might bust the national treasury. Imagine that!
Now consider Iran. Because of Carter's unwillingness to simply cave in to every demand of the Iranian militants who overthrew the Shah's government, Iranian extremists stormed our embassy in Tehran and took hostages. This calamity was likely the single issue that sealed Carter's doom when he ran for re-election. Few know that Carter's own chief of staff, the late Hamilton Jordan, took a tremendous physical risk when he operated in disguises in trying to negotiate the hostages' freedom. And when it became clear that Carter's longsuffering negotiations were failing, he at least tried a daring, if poorly executed, rescue of the hostages.
Fast-forward to today. The United States government and some in media seem obsessed with appeasing anybody and anything Islamic. Only the latest example is the decree from NASA that its "foremost" mission is to recognize and appreciate the contributions of Muslims to science.