January 7, 2009

THE RISK IS REAL BECAUSE...:

How Obama Can Avoid the Mistakes of Carter: As Barack Obama lunches with the former presidents today, he ought to cast an eye across the table and vow not to indulge the cult of personality that undid his predecessor. (John Avlon, 1/06/09, Daily Beast)

As Obama is having lunch today, he might look across the table and ponder this presidential cautionary tale:

Once there was a president who campaigned on hope and change after a period of disillusionment, division, and economic downturn. He was a virtual unknown when the campaign began, a long-shot dark-horse with a brief record in public office, criticized by party-elders for having the self-assurance to believe that he should be president instead of waiting his turn. But people across the political spectrum responded to the candidate's calm candor and thoughtful intelligence—they saw in him a different kind of politician who could heal old divides and make them believe in our democracy again. Armed with a disciplined campaign, he pulled off what Time called "something of a political miracle." Before inauguration day, over 60 percent of Americans believed he would make a good or great president. By March, proposing a far-sighted energy bill and an economic stimulus plan that balanced job-creation with targeted tax-cuts, his approval ratings reached 72 percent. Things fell apart from there. [...]

As former Carter speechwriter James Fallows wrote in 1979, "The central idea of the Carter Administration is Jimmy Carter himself… Hubert Humphrey might have carried out Lyndon Johnson's domestic policies. Gerald Ford, the foreign policies of Richard Nixon. But no one could carry out the Carter Program because Carter has resisted providing the overall guidelines that might explain what his program is."


...Mr. Obama similarly ran on no ideas, just his own Obamaness.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at January 7, 2009 2:36 PM
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