Alexander's Column

Carter and Obama: An Unfair Comparison

Mark Alexander · Dec. 1, 2011

Carter was inept, but Obama is totally incompetent

“[T]ake care that the laws be faithfully executed … support the Constitution … faithfully execute the office of president of the United States, and … preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States” –Article II Section 1, 3 of the Constitution, on the duties of the Executive

Back in 1979, our nation was in severe decline.

We were in the throes of a crippling recession, any hope of economic growth had been blunted by excessive taxation and regulation, and fuel prices were high – the result of Middle East turmoil, particularly in Iran, which posed a grave threat to our interests and to regional stability.

To make matters worse, the nation was experiencing a crisis of confidence under the leadership of a Democrat president, James Earl Carter, who subscribed to the errant notion that government was the solution to our problems.

Fast-forward three decades, and there are remarkable parallels between Carter’s failed leadership and that of Barack Hussein Obama today. In the words of that sage Yogi Berra, “It’s déjà vu all over again.”

As with Carter and his 1979 “Great Malaise” speech, Obama has even resorted to blaming the American people for the nation’s ills. Most recently, Obama noted, “The way I think about it is, you know, this is, uh, you know, a great, uh, great country that had gotten a little soft, and you know, we didn’t have that same competitive edge that we needed over the last, uh, couple of decades. … Over the last decade, we became a country that relied too much on what we bought and consumed.”

That assessment prompted immediate comparisons. “A second Obama term means making this malaise permanent,” said former RNC chairman and current Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour. Conservative columns were abuzz with the similarities between the two. To the point, Newt Gingrich rightly protested, “We don’t have a problem with America being too soft, we have a problem with Barack Obama just being plain wrong.”

However, comparing Obama with Carter is, frankly, an insult to Carter. Though Carter had an abysmal record, by any measure Obama has yet to rise to even Carter’s level of ineptitude.

It might be argued that Carter’s intentions were good, but we all know where roads paved with good intentions can lead. Conversely, Obama’s intentions are anything but good. Indeed, he is clearly intent on undermining Essential Liberty and replacing free enterprise with his brand of authoritarian democratic socialism.

Carter’s White House bio notes: “His story is the American story – values from the heartland, a middle-class upbringing in a strong family, hard work and education as the means of getting ahead, and the conviction that a life so blessed should be lived in service to others.”

Actually, that’s the opening text of Barack Obama’s bogus bio, as posted on the current White House website.

“Values from the heartland”? Not unless one believes such values are reflected in the mentoring young Obama received from Communist Frank Marshall Davis, his religious mentoring by black ethnocentrist Jeremiah Wright, or his political mentoring by Leftist radicals Michael Pfleger, William Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn, Khalid al-Mansour, Rashid Khalidi, Bob Creamer and Saul Alinsky. Perhaps those values were instilled by the Chicago political machine and Obama’s friends Rod Blagojevich and Tony Rezko.

“A strong family”? Obama’s family – if it can be called that – is a textbook model for dysfunctional development, highlighted by abandonment, first by his Muslim Kenyan father, then by his atheist mother who moved to Indonesia with her second Muslim husband.

Thus, Obama’s White House bio more accurately reflects Carter’s values and upbringing.

I first met Jimmy Carter during his presidency when, as a young uniformed patrolman, I walked perimeter gun with his security detail. In the years after his failed presidential tenure, I had extended visits with Carter on several occasions, which allowed for spirited but friendly debates, and significant insights into his character and worldview.

Unlike Obama’s faux family façade, Carter’s story is the American story, one defined by gratitude, faith and a desire to serve others. He grew up in an intact traditional family in the rural farming community of Plains, Georgia. He was the product of generations of salt-of-the-earth Americans. A good student, Carter gained entrance to the United States Naval Academy in 1943. He later served under Admiral Hyman Rickover, developing nuclear power plants for submarines. After his Navy years, he became a successful peanut farmer, and he served two terms as a Georgia state senator before being elected governor and then president. He was, and remains, a genuine Christian who actually earned his 2002 Nobel Prize for his lifelong pursuit of human rights around the world.

Though I disagreed with Carter’s politics, I found him to be a man of integrity and character who, unlike Obama, was truly devoted to our country, however misguided was his sense of how to express that devotion.

That having been said, Carter also earned the lowest job approval ratings of any president since voter confidence was first measured. His failure as a president was largely the result of a severe leadership deficit, compounded by the fact that his own political party turned its back on him. Carter refused to submit to the political machinations of Demo House Speaker Tip O'Neill or Demo Senator Ted Kennedy. Consequently, he was left out to dry.

Carter’s most notable failures were in foreign policy, the paramount Constitutional duty of the Executive. He caved to Islamist extremism in Iran, appeased the Soviets and their expansionist activities in our hemisphere, and gave away the Panama Canal. Worse yet is the fact that he decimated our human intelligence capabilities in deference to more high tech intel capabilities. Reasonable HumInt in the most dangerous regions of the world have yet to be restored.

Fortunately, the Carter domestic and foreign policy trends were abruptly reversed with the election of Ronald Reagan.

This week, Obama’s presidential job approval index, a measure of public opinion and confidence in Obama and his administration, set a new record low, sinking well below the standard set by Jimmy Carter at the end of his third year in office.

Then, Carter was at 51 percent, but Obama crashed through that barrier and is now at 43 percent, dropping below even the all-time low of 44 percent set by Lyndon Johnson. To his credit, Obama achieved this dubious distinction the old fashioned way: He earned it.

For the record, since Carter’s presidency, at similar junctures in their presidential tenure, Ronald Reagan registered 54 percent, George H.W. Bush 52 percent, Bill Clinton 51 percent, and George W. Bush 55 percent.

Hand in hand with Obama’s low approval rating is the Conference Board’s consumer confidence index, which has been fluctuating between 40 and 55 points since July. This is the lowest confidence range since 1980 – Carter’s last year in office. And, as was the case with Carter, our economy is mired in another Crisis of Confidence.

Of course, it isn’t likely that Obama will drop below 35 percent, given the current level of his entrenched socialized constituency, but some Democrat leaders are now whispering that Obama should give up his re-election bid. A pair of Demo pollsters is even calling this “The Hillary Moment.”

Being the consummate case study in pathological narcissism, Obama isn’t likely to step aside for the “good of the Party,” much less the good of the nation. The resurgence of Populist Socialism will compel him to continue.

Indeed, the leader of the American Communist Party, Obama’s most zealous constituency, proclaimed this week, “This is a volatile period. Battle lines are being drawn. Not for a while have things been so unhinged. A marked upswing, if not a qualitative turn in class and democratic struggles, is afoot. Sustained mass actions, civil disobedience, new levels of solidarity and consciousness, innovative tactics and slogans, and a complex array of social forces and organizations are reshaping the political landscape.”

What America lacks most right now is authentic republican (little “r”) leadership, and that critical void has proven perilous both for our nation and for the rest of the world.

To understand a foundational prerequisite for leadership, I refer you to a recent Air Force Academy address to our nation’s next generation of military officers. It was delivered by Gen. Mark Welsh, and he rightly concludes, “Leadership is a gift. It’s given by those who follow. You have to be worthy of it.”

Our nation’s crisis of confidence, and the resulting precipitous decline of our economy, society and world standing, is irrevocably linked to the current national leadership deficit, and that deficit is the consequence of an executive who is wholly unworthy of the gift of leadership.

Ominously, Obama is on the campaign trail with this mantra: “I’ve got to win in 2012. … In order to finish the job, I’m going to have to have a second term. … I need a couple more years to finish the job. … I’m going to need another term to finish the job. … I’m going to need a few more years to finish the job.” If he dupes voters into electing him for another term, he will indeed, “finish the job.”