Ed Driscoll

Betelgeuse! Betelgeuse! Betelgeuse!

Whoops: Barack Obama compares himself to Jimmy Carter. One does not invoke the name of History’s Greatest Monster without expecting the direst of consequences:


“I think one of the criticisms that is absolutely legitimate about my first two years was that I was very comfortable with a technocratic approach to government … a series of problems to be solved. …

“Carter, Clinton and I all have sort of the disease of being policy wonks … I think that if you get too consumed with that you lose sight of the larger issue … The reorganization that’s taken place here is one that is much more geared to those [leadership] functions.”

Jon Meacham, a Pulitzer-Prize-winning biographer of presidents, told POLITICO that for Obama to compare himself to Carter could be a “a history-sized mistake.”

“For 30 years, fairly or no,” Meacham emailed, “‘Carter’ has been political and cultural shorthand for an ineffectual and uninspiring president who is captive to, rather than captain of, events. To compare oneself to President Carter is kind of like Nixon evoking Harding.”

But why would a Great Society-era progressive like Nixon evoke a conservative like Harding? Besides, Harding’s policies helped to shape far better economic times.

Related: “Obama has a Jimmy Carter malaise moment,” Joel Gehrke writes at the Washington Examiner. Even taking a long-term historical approach, it’s sometimes difficult to think of three years as a moment.

More here in a follow-up post, ‘An Isolated Man Trapped in a Collapsing Presidency.’

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