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Welcome Back, Carter

July 17, 2009

IBD 14 July 09

Milestone: Thirty years after Jimmy Carter’s malaise speech, we return to the days of rising joblessness, an unresponsive economy, deference to dictators, gutting the military and an energy policy tilting at windmills.

On July 15, 1979, President James Earl Carter gave what has become known as the malaise speech. He didn’t actually use that term. Instead, he spoke of “a crisis in confidence” . .. that struck at the spirit of our national will.

He spoke of an energy crisis that was “the moral equivalent of war” but advocated an energy policy that was the practical equivalent of doing nothing. He spoke of our “intolerable dependence on foreign oil” and of “the crucial goal of 20% of our energy coming from solar power by the year 2000.”

He warned against going down “the path that leads to fragmentation and self-interest. Down that road lies a mistaken idea of freedom, the right to grasp for ourselves some advantage over others.” He decried our tendency “to worship self-indulgence and consumption.” Sacrifice would save us while we shared the wealth.

If this sounds familiar, it should.

Barack Obama said during his presidential run: “We can’t drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times … and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK.”

our comments- Barack Obama should worry about U.S.A. Not “other countries” and whether or not “other countries are going to say OK.”

The Obama administration’s policies constitute a promise kept.

Carter asked us “to take no unnecessary trips, to use carpools or public transportation whenever you can, to park your car one extra day per week, to obey the speed limit and to set your thermostats to save fuel.” And don’t forget your cardigan sweater as you huddle in front of your fireplace.

With the help of solar energy and alternative energy sources like his ill-fated Synthetic Fuels Corp., Carter said, “the battlefield of energy we can win for our nation a new confidence, and we can seize control again of our common destiny.” Yes, we can.

Except we didn’t. We didn’t exploit our abundant domestic resources to increase supply, and the economy suffered. At the end of Carter’s only term, the numbers told the sad story of his presidency: interest rate, 21%; inflation, 13.5%; unemployment, 7%.

Then there was the misery index, the combination of the unemployment and inflation rates that Carter used to great effect in his 1976 campaign to win election. Four years later it stood at 20.5%.

The stimulus package has failed to stimulate as trillions of dollars of debt are being laid upon our children and grandchildren as we build turtle tunnels and try to save marsh mice. The Obama administration is trying to get money into the economy instead of leaving it where it was in the first place through tax cuts. As we near double-digit unemployment, it is failing as Carter failed, and the cry goes up: Where are the jobs?

On energy, we leave hundreds of billions of barrels of oil and trillions of cubic feet of natural gas trapped in the ground and offshore places like bankrupt California while we pursue alternative energy like wind and, once again, solar.

When Reagan replaced Carter, he found planes that couldn’t fly and ships that couldn’t sail for want of parts and maintenance. Defense is again being gutted with programs like the F-22 Raptor being tossed aside and Reagan’s SDI missile shield being gutted.

Carter’s belief in diplomacy gave us Ayatollah Khomeini. It was a regime that held American hostages for 444 days. The Obama administration shares Carter’s fondness for thugs like Hugo Chavez and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose nation goes nuclear while we make nice.

As history repeats itself on the anniversary of the speech MSNBC’s Chris Matthews wrote, we wonder if the “Hardball” host, who has worked for four Democratic politicians, is still getting tingles up his legs.

The Democratic Party apparently has learned nothing in the past three decades.

Will we see a return of the misery index?

The only thing that’s different is the sweater.

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