Ed Driscoll

Building a Bridge to the 1970s

Welcome back Carter, Jonah Goldberg writes:

Obama’s campaign was Carteresque on several fronts. The consummate outsider, Obama promised a transformational presidency, a new accommodation with religion, a new centrism, a changed tone. And there was no shortage of conjecture that Obama — a.k.a. “the one” — was sent by the Lord to his chosen people, “the ones we’ve been waiting for.”

The Carter-Obama comparison is not new. Rich Lowry of the National Review visited it at length in 2007. It’s also imperfect. For starters, Obama was never as conservative as Carter, and Obama has gotten more accomplished than Carter did. But he hasn’t governed in a way that has held his coalition together.

After the 2008 election, various liberal pundits insisted that Obama’s personal popularity would bring about a sea change and a “new liberal order,” in the words of Peter Beinart in Time magazine. According to Beinart, the Obama congressional coalition appeared as enduring as FDR’s. Youngsters seemed like a pot of electoral gold, because the under-30 vote went for Obama by a margin of 2 to 1. Harold Meyerson celebrated that Obama’s popularity among the young would usher in a rebirth in popularity for socialism. E.J. Dionne insisted that the millennials were the next “New Dealers.”

That’s all somewhere between dubious and ludicrous now. As this newspaper reported over the weekend, “Obama’s coalition is frayed and frazzled.” Independents defected long ago, and young people are heading for the door. And every day he seems more like the Lord’s unwitting herald of the revolution to come.

But for all his (myriad) flaws, Carter was still a practitioner of traditional religion. I.E. he paid lip service to God, he was never compared to Him, not even by the zaniest writers at Newsweek.