Wait, what year is this?
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Dig this opening paragraph –>

As the marathon for the presidency, 1980, begins to quicken, the American electorate is in a singularly sour and pessimistic mood. Not only is the public naturally worried about the economy, energy and inflation, but it doubts things will improve much. The country is anxious to find strong leaders —the evidence is overwhelming—and the public has little faith that Jimmy Carter has the ability, let alone the programs, to solve the nation’s problems. Clearly, the search has begun for a candidate who is seen to have the sort of leadership qualities that Carter is thought to lack.
Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,920594,00.html#ixzz1XEIEFbL6

September 10, 1979.  I remember that year, that month.  I owned St. Louis Cardinal Football season tickets, bought with money I earned cutting grass and shoveling snow. Ottis Anderson debuted with 190+ yard game against the Dallas Cowboys.  I was playing football, too, at St. Mary’s High School. My Epiphany baseball team had just lost the 1979 Junior Boys City-County Championship in the final game. (We won the following season.) And the Iranian hostage crisis was still two  months away.

Substitute unemployment for inflation, Obama for Carter, and 2012 for 1980, and this Time story could run tomorrow.

carter_obama_smile1001281 (1)

I blogged about the remarkable similarities between America’s worst president, and the man aspiring to succeed him, with Change Is All You Need, January 7, 2008

Carter was all about change. He offered an “outsider’s perspective” of Washington, a popular image two years after Nixon resigned. Carter spoke of reaching out to our enemies, a popular position one year after Saigon fell. Carter spoke of renewing American values, a popular sentiment as violent crime and drub abuse rates soared.

On Labor Day, Matt Stoller told Salon.com readers What Democrats Can Do About Obama. 

From the debt ceiling fiasco to the recent rescheduling of a jobs speech at the behest of Speaker Boehner, it has not been a good summer for President Obama. Like Chinese water torture, Gallup’s daily tracking poll has shown a steady and unrelenting drip of bad news. He has been in and out of the high 30s for his approval, and in the low to mid-50s for his disapproval.

Later, Stoller declared that “Obama has ruined the Democratic Party.”  He went to predict a possible future for Democrats under Obama:

If the economy worsens going into the fall, and the president continues as he has to attempt to cut Social Security, Democrats might be facing a Carter-Reagan scenario. Reagan, at first considered a lightweight candidate, ended up winning a landslide victory that devastated the Democratic Party in 1980. Carter wasn’t the only loss; many significant liberal senators, such as George McGovern, John Culver and Birch Bayh, fell that year.

Republicans, though, should avoid overconfidence.  In 1979, the GOP field sported a candidate unlike any other in generations.  Reagan already led Carter in opinion polls as of the September 10, 1979, Time edition. A new Reagan has yet to emerge from the apck of 2012 Republican candidates.  Plus, the GOP of 1980 had a stronger bench that its 2012 edition.  (By the same token, the Democrat Party of 1980 was still pro-American. I would not say the same for its current version.)

Still, this recent New York Times story seems to echo the 1979 story on Carter:

Americans are more pessimistic about the nation’s economic outlook and overall direction than they have been at any time since President Obama’s first two months in office, when the country was still officially ensnared in the Great Recession, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

Amid rising gas prices, stubborn unemployment and a cacophonous debate in Washington over the federal government’s ability to meet its future obligations, the poll presents stark evidence that the slow, if unsteady, gains in public confidence earlier this year that a recovery was under way are now all but gone.

The similarities between Carter and Obama grow stronger every day, as our nation weakens. It’s up to us to muddle through to the next election.  If we can, that shining city on a hill is still within our grasp. 

I think the Gipper would want us to try.

  • Clearwoodlouis

    I remember how mad I was at Carter in 1980, and was pleasantly surprized on election night, November, 1980 when Reagan won even New York. It is curious that the press presented the election as close, when we learned that Carter’s pollsters told him, “Mr. President, you can’t win.” But it is true that we should not be overconfident as Republicans.

  • Good article … Agree the Gipper would want us to try!

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