It’s one thing when GOP presidential candidates such a Mitt Romney compare Obama to Jimmy Carter, Bill McGurn writes in the Wall Street Journal. But McGurn spots an increasing number of leftwing pundits and politicians invoking the Carter comparison these days, including Maureen Dowd, Eric Alterman, and even Zbigniew Brzezinski, Carter’s own national security adviser. But then, McGurn’s conclusion echoes the Professor’s reminder that these days, Carter is the best-case scenario for Obama.
Ironically, here Mr. Romney has a case, for some of the differences between the two presidents favor Mr. Carter. Faced with raging inflation and a declining dollar, President Carter appointed Paul Volcker chairman of the Federal Reserve. He supported deregulation. Most of all, in contrast to President Obama, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize because he wasn’t George W. Bush, President Carter actually earned his, at least for the Camp David Accords that brought about peace between Israel and Egypt.
Mr. Obama can’t be blamed for the excesses that saw him hailed as the new FDR, the new JFK or the new Lincoln, or for the Norwegian committee that bestowed upon him a Nobel. He can be held to account for encouraging them: by delivering a campaign speech in Berlin, by accepting a prize he hadn’t earned, by breaking out not only a Lincoln quotation but the Lincoln china and the Lincoln Bible for his inauguration.
An American politician steeped in—dare we say it?—Niebuhrian realism would have appreciated that no president could live up to such hype. And such a man would not be surprised to find that people who once hailed him as the reincarnation of Abraham Lincoln are now dismissing him as the second coming of Jimmy Carter.
The irony is that instead of wallowing in the comparisons to the great men of the past, if Obama had come out and said from the podium of the “Office of the President Elect” something like, “Hey, the guys in the press sure get carried away sometimes; let me get into office, and history will be the judge of where my record stands,” the media would have further swooned over his aura of a penumbra of the imitation of modesty. Instead, as Obama once said, “You know, I actually believe my own bulls***,” — and perhaps even worse, the B.S. of others.
Or as Jonah Goldberg wrote last year, “There’s an irony to occupying the Oval Office. When presidents think they’re bigger than the job they hold, they shrink in office. When they think they’re smaller than the honor that has temporarily been bestowed upon them, they grow into it. Obama has done nothing but shrink.”