So what does Obama propose? Well nothing so simple as his own party’s highly popular political platform for this president. He’s too smart for that. Rather, as Ezra Klein points out,, Obama’s deficit reduction plan, while not quite as brutal as the Republican Ryan plan, is even more conservative than the Simpson-Bowles plan, which was itself deeply conservative. He calls for raising less money in new taxes and far smaller cuts in the defense budget, chasing the Republicans into territory that is well to the right of anything even Ronald Reagan dared propose before his 1980 shellacking of Jimmy Carter.
Carter, as it happens, took much the same path. Turning his back on O’Neill, his party and its primary constituencies, he accepted the Republican argument that the only way to solve the country’s economic problems was to attack the deficit. He would later explain to a group of political scientists after leaving the presidency, “A lot of my advisers, including Rosalyn, used to argue with me about my decision to move ahead with a project when it was obviously not going to be politically advantageous, or to encourage me to postpone it until a possible second term and so forth. It was just contrary to my nature…I just couldn’t do it. Once I made a decision I was awfully stubborn about it.”
Sound like any presidents you know?
Incidentally, recall this infamous November of 2008 exchange from the JournoList, as quoted by the Daily Caller, immediately after Obama had won the election:
SPENCER ACKERMAN: Let’s just throw Ledeen against a wall. Or, pace Dr. Alterman, throw him through a plate glass window. I’ll bet a little spot of violence would shut him right the fuck up, as with most bullies.
JOE KLEIN, TIME: Pete Wehner…these sort of things always end badly.
ERIC ALTERMAN, AUTHOR, WHAT LIBERAL MEDIA: F***ing Nascar retards…
And yet the F***ing Nascar retards proved to be more than a little prescient on what was to come, far more than the would-be successors to Mencken who populated the JournoList. The Internet Archive Wayback machine first picked up the “Welcome Back Carter” T-Shirt that the fellas at Those Shirts (a conservative T-shirt manufacturer) sell in December of 2008, before Obama even took office. And it’s taking the left this long to notice the similarity?
And as Ace notes:
The Second Term of Jimmy Carter: Lefties are starting to worry, as Eric Alterman does, that Obama is looking less messianic and more malaisiac. Among other problems, Obama faces $5 a gallon gas all summer (and probably longer than that), which is, despite the media’s lack of intellectual curiosity about the state of things, at least partially chargeable to Obama.
On that last point, that’s me talking, not Eric Alterman. I’m sure Alterman thinks that there is absolutely no connection between the US not drilling for oil and oil costing a lot in the US.
Why do you ask?
And where do we go after Carter Country? Like Lincoln Steffens, Jimmy’s off on an inspection tour to see the future of America, and confirm that it works as well as he imagines.
Update: at Front Page, Daniel J. Flynn adds:
The original ’70s show ended when a Democratic president lost his reelection bid and his successor more than halved top tax rates, backed the Fed in tightening money, lifted price controls on oil, and pursued America’s just interests abroad that ironically achieved his predecessor’s unrealized aim of furthering human rights. Next year, American viewers determine whether this low-rated ’70s repeat gets cancelled—or reruns in syndication for a four more years.