Is Henninger Right about the 'Carterization' of Obama?
In a March 5 Wall Street Journal piece, Deputy Editor Daniel Henninger asserts that "it's official. Vladimir Putin has turned Barack Obama totally into Jimmy Carter." Henninger goes on to compare Obama's foreign policy disasters (Iran, Syria, North Korea, Venezuela, Ukraine – he actualy doesn’t mention Benghazi) to those of Jimmy Carter. He then quotes Reagan (talking about Carter) and avers that, like Carter, Obama manifests "weakness, inconsistency, vacillation and bluff in response to foreign threats"; thus causing "our allies to lose confidence in us and our adversaries to no longer respect us." [paraphrased ever so slightly].
In fact this theme, that Obama is as awful a president as Jimmy Carter, has been a thread woven through the narrative of many conservative writers (including yours truly) ever since BHO assumed the presidency. And indeed, I believe that history will record these two naïve and unexpected presidents as among the absolutely most horrible of our chief executives. Moreover, that assessment will pertain to domestic as well as foreign policy.
But I would like to point out three significant differences between our 39th and 44th presidents; differences which may affect history's judgment of their relative merits.
A fawning media. The overwhelmingly leftist tilt of the media, which was nearly as pronounced in the 1970s as it is today, did not result in Carter adulation in the same way that the lamestream media is in the tank for Obama today. In fact, most of the left wing media did not like poor Jimmy. It might be because he was religious, or he had a southern accent, or he served in the military, or perhaps because he once ran a business. It certainly wasn't his liberal policies, which they adored. No, it was clear then, and especially in retrospect, that they did not hold him in high esteem. And so they did not cover for him by suppressing stories that reflected poorly on his presidency. They hammered him over the Iran hostages and the gas shortages; whereas, regarding Obama, they couldn't care less about Benghazi, the IRS targeting conservative groups, Solyndra or Fast & Furious.
Lawlessness. The administration of Barack Obama is certainly the most lawless since that of Richard Nixon – and arguably, the most lawless in American history. From Obama's wanton altering of congressionally passed laws, to illegal recess appointments, to the ignoring of congressional subpoenas, to regulatory agencies routinely and drastically exceeding the scope of their authority, Obama and his acolytes cavalierly violate the Constitution that they are sworn to protect. One can make no such claim about the administration of Jimmy Carter.
One signature achievement. Thankfully, Jimmy was so inept that, even with a Democratic Congress, he was unable to enact any major legislation that would alter the character of the nation. Alas, not so for Barack. Although endowed with a Democratic Congress during his first two years, and although intent on passing several game changing laws like Cap & Trade, Card Check, legalization of millions of illegal aliens, and massive tax increases, he (again thankfully) chose to ignore all those in favor of a single-minded, determined push to enact "health care reform." It required an inordinate amount of chicanery and skullduggery to secure passage, but Obama got his Obamacare. This is a major piece of legislation that will indeed alter the character of the nation. Although passed, it's not yet "institutionalized" and it may be reversed or emasculated depending upon the outcome of the 2014 and 2016 elections. Whatever transpires, the eventual fate of Obamacare will have an enormous impact on Obama's legacy.
Reagan was able to reverse and erase many (if not most) of Carter's mistakes. We may not be so lucky this time.
Ron Lipsman, Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at the University of Maryland, writes about politics, culture, education, science and sports at http://ronlipsman.com