The Unhappy Presidencies of Carter and Obama: Merging the Idol and the Ideal

Posted: Sep 04, 2013 12:01 AM

"All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way," thus wrote Leo Tolstoy in this epic novel about faithlessness, Anna Karenina

And so it goes with the presidency of Barack Obama.

The mistake many commentators have made was in expecting that the unhappy presidency of Barack Obama would resemble the unhappy presidency of Jimmy Carter, just because they are both liberals.

I’m reminded of this as I look at the PMI figures for August.

Whereas Carter struggled with high inflation and unemployment, Obama struggles with sluggish economic growth and high employment underutilization.

“U.S. manufacturing activity eased in August as output grew at the slowest pace in 10 months,” reports Reuters, “but demand picked up and inventories fell, suggesting growth may soon speed up, an industry report showed on Tuesday.”

It’s that suggestion that “growth may soon speed up” that’s been tantalizing us for years, but yet never comes to fruition. It leads to the leaden sense of disappointment and disbelief for many of us.

Invariably, good numbers reported in one area of the economy, under Obama, are followed by bad numbers reported in another area of the economy.

The good numbers suggest that the United States is still the richest, most powerful, most innovative economy in the world.

The bad numbers suggest that we have one of the worst political environments we’ve faced in 80 years. The fault lies with both political parties.

The most interesting thing about this phenomenon is that politicians have largely shaped this poor political environment on purpose.

This was not true with Jimmy Carter presidency.

During the Carter presidency the discontents of various classes of voters were built over a long period of time kind of organically.

Sure Carter mismanaged his times, but he was more a symptom of the problem than the actual problem.

Obama—and his friends, including guys like John McCain-- on the other hand, are the problem.

Let’s take Syria as an example.

Much of the discontent that is now evident with Obama’s decision to use military might in Syria has been purposefully fomented by politicians from both the right and the left.

Those who opposed the war in Iraq, like Obama and John Kerry, are suddenly for a war in Syria, even though the circumstances of the two wars don’t look very much different. Those who had to fight the war in Iraq are decidedly less optimistic about the prospects of a war in Syria than they were in Iraq.

This is a war that Obama could very much avoid. And yet he pursues it in the face of opposition that he himself created.

Jimmy Carter on the other hand would’ve rather looked weak than start a war he didn’t believe in.

But Obama pursues war, using arguments that he himself decried.

“Here's my question for every member of Congress and every member of the global community:  What message will we send if a dictator can gas hundreds of children to death in plain sight and pay no price?” said Obama, echoing George W. Bush’s arguments for invading Iraq. “What's the purpose of the international system that we've built if a prohibition on the use of chemical weapons that has been agreed to by the governments of 98 percent of the world's people and approved overwhelmingly by the Congress of the United States is not enforced?”

This is true with the economy as well.

No one is really very happy with the performance of this economy. Yet this economy is largely the handiwork of Obama and his progressive friends.

Peoples’ unhappiness stem from the fact that the recovery, so-called, is not a broad-based recovery. People at the top have disproportionately shared in the benefits of any recovery, thus far, compared to people at the bottom.

Obama was elected using the rhetoric that accused the government of purposefully leaving some people behind. And today’s discontent stems from people feeling the government under Obama is purposefully leaving some people behind.

Again Obama seems confused by the opposition to his policies.

It’s almost as if Obama is conducting a liberal parody of trickle down economics.

In all it’s leading to people having less confidence in government than they have at any time since I’ve been alive.

We don’t believe our leaders anymore, nor should we.

The Boomers who are now largely in charge of our government are “me first,” pettifogging, hedonists, whose worship of self is so strong that they truly believe self-interest is national interest; that self-interest is the only interest.

Our only response can be: Don’t trust them, don’t believe them, don’t reelect them, don’t read their newspapers, don’t watch their television shows.

And that is how liberals today are different than during the unhappy presidency of Jimmy Carter: Today, liberal idols and ideals are one and the same.

In the epigram to Anna Karenina, Tolstoy quotes God: "Vengeance is mine, I will repay."

Faithlessness has a way of being repaid in kind.

The twining of the two liberal daystars-- idols and ideals—shall continue to lead us to national unhappiness, no matter which Boomer acolyte leads us there, even if that unhappiness takes form in very different ways.