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How to quiet those Jimmy Carter comparisons

With Obama set to deliver a big speech tonight on how we're crippled by our dependence on foreign oil, a lot of people are reviving the comparisons between the current president and Jimmy Carter.

Most of the comparisons center on whether Obama's failure to halt the spill have rendered him a figure of Carter-esque impotence. But my Post colleage Jonathan Capehart makes a far more interesting Carter comparison: He points out that in his famous "malaise" speech, Carter made an extensive pitch for energy reform, just as Obama will do tonight.

Carter never realized his energy reform goals, since he was drummed out of office soon after, and therein lies a hint of what the real stakes are for Obama going forward:

Obama will assuredly list a host of goals and ideals that will hasten this brighter future. But these promises will be as empty as Carter's proved to be if they are not followed tomorrow by a sustained effort to push a legislative agenda that will turn his words into reality. This will require political will in the White House and in Congress to make decisions that will be unpopular in the short term but will be enormously beneficial decades down the road. The U.S. can no longer afford to coddle and cloister its people from the tough measures ahead. Look at what the last 31 years have wrought.

All of which is to say that the best way for Obama to quiet the Carter comparisons, and all the chatter about his impotence, is to pass comprehensive energy reform. The spill may largely be out of his control, and its continued destruction will no doubt take a toll on his standing. But he can take the decisive action that is available to him: Rack up a big success in tackling the larger, underlying problem.

Many people seem very eager to see Obama meet a Carteresque fate, and some have already declared his presidency Carter Redux. But nothing would quiet the Carter comparisons faster than a big legislative victory that's accomplished on his terms, without any abject downsizing of the goals. Far easier said than done, of course, but going big may be the only way out.

By Greg Sargent  |  June 15, 2010; 4:50 PM ET
Categories:  Climate change  
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Next: Happy Hour Roundup

Comments

* EPA: Climate bill costs less than postage stamp *

The Obama administration says a climate and energy bill being pushed in the Senate would cost American households 22 to 40 cents a day, less than the cost of a postage stamp.

The Environmental Protection Agency said in a new analysis released Tuesday that a bill sponsored by Sens. John Kerry and Joe Lieberman would cost households an average of $79 to $146 per year.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jgtia8XJDhtzR-ed3ZzuVOLC4DvQD9GBTM380

Greg, great analysis.

To Obama and the Dems: GIT ER DONE!!!

Posted by: Ethan2010 | June 15, 2010 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Slave Sargent:
"But nothing would quiet the Carter comparisons faster than a big legislative victory that's accomplished on his terms, without any abject downsizing of the goals."

Jeeze...flack, much?

And it's pretty funny that you're trying the Alleged Hawaiian's feet on for "Carter Boots" unless he dances to your preferred minstrel show tune.

In some way's the Alleged Hawaiian is being Carteresque, but in others, thankfully, he has a long, long way to go.

IOW, I remember the Carter Administration, and this has quite a ways to plunge before it descends to those depths of suckage.

Posted by: Bilgeman | June 15, 2010 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Blah Blah Blah.

I will wait to see what he says, instead of continuing to obsess about what he might, will, should, or shouldn't say.

Carter made one huge fatal mistake. A US Embassy is American Territory. The moment the Iranians invaded the embassy and took prisoners, Carter should have called it an act of war, and declared that we are now at war with Iran, and the prisoners they have taken, are to be treated as prisoners of war, under the rules of the Geneva convention, and if not, the Iranian leaders will be tried for war crimes.

Had he done that, the nation would have rallied behind their President, and the brand new Iran leaders would have released the prisoners, to avoid a massive American military assault on Iran.

Carter should have told them, they had forty eight hours to release the prisoners, or we would wage war on them, just like we responded after Pearl Harbor.

None of that can be done to a broken pipe line,

So I will wait and listen to what President Obama says tonight, instead of engaging in a Plumline projection marathon.

Posted by: Liam-still | June 15, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Looks like Obama has a crisis of confidence on his hands. Maybe tonight he'll tell us we "can't just keep the thermostat wherever we want" and the oil spill is the American people's fault because oil is the opiate of the masses.

Posted by: Truthteller12 | June 15, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

With all of the crises he has had to deal with, including the Gulf Oil Disaster, his approval rating is still around 50%. Crisis of confidence? Hilarious.

No, we are moving forward on energy. And tonight is an important step on that journey.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | June 15, 2010 5:13 PM | Report abuse

George W. Bush all ready said : "The American People Are Addicted To Oil". He was actually calling it the opiate of the American masses. Sorry to break the news to you, Mr Toothfairy.

Posted by: Liam-still | June 15, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

* Oil execs admit they can't handle massive offshore spills *

...During today's House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee hearing on the oil spill, Rex Tillerson, the Chairman and CEO of Exxon-Mobil, explained how his company would have jumped into action had it been one of their wells that blew:

TILLERSON: We would have been ready to implement our oil spill response plan.

STUPAK: That's that nine page plan, right?

TILLERSON: That's that 500 page plan you referred to.

STUPAK: Okay, there's only nine on oil removal, 40 on media, nine on oil removal. So that nine pages would have been able to prevent the oil from hitting the Gulf shores?

TILLERSON: The nine page plan would have done what the nine page plan says it's intended to do, and it says to the maximum extent practicable.

...So, how does Exxon-Mobil's, and every other oil giant, oil spill response plan really work?

TILLERSON: The answer to that is that when these things happen, we are not well-equipped to deal with them...

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2010/6/15/876170/-Oil-execs-admit-they-cant-handle-massive-offshore-spills

Video at the link...

"WE ARE NOT WELL-EQUIPPED TO DEAL WITH THEM..."

We've noticed.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | June 15, 2010 5:19 PM | Report abuse

"We are moving forward on energy."

Well sure we're gonna get an energy bill this year. That's a foregone conclusion. The question is whether it will include climate change rules.

Posted by: sbj3 | June 15, 2010 5:20 PM | Report abuse

"The question is whether it will include climate change rules."

We need both over the long-term, but I'd be satisfied with strong energy reform. We need that NOW.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | June 15, 2010 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Greg: I think you're right to see this as a critical moment for Obama's presidency. In my opinion, he has already largely squandered two golden opportunities to transform the nation away from its anti-government, corporatist, anti-social disfigurement over the past 40 years. This is an even easier sell policy-wise than the public option because aggressively moving away from fossil fuels and into green energies will alleviate several problems at once. It will help with air pollution and climate change. It will allow for re-training and new jobs in the new industries. It gives the American auto industry a chance to leap ahead of the world market, something not seen for ... the same 40 years.

You only get so many chances in life. Even if your name is Barrack Obama. I hope he channels FDR tonight.

Posted by: wbgonne | June 15, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Actually Obama's approval rating hasn't really changed that much.

But clean energy legislation MUST PASS.

Posted by: maritza1 | June 15, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse

if only a speech could save obama the president the way it saved obama the candidate.

Posted by: dummypants | June 15, 2010 5:39 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Sargent, you said: "All of which is to say that the best way for Obama to quiet the Carter comparisons, and all the chatter about his impotence, is to pass comprehensive energy reform."

Pray tell, Mr. Sargent, exactly what are the purposes of this so-called energy reform?

Is it to get us less dependent on oil from nations not our friends [e.g., Saudi, Venezuala, Kuwait, etc]. If so, then this oil needs to be replaced by either domestic oil production, or another usable and economic energy source. What's in the plan for this?

Is it to get us less dependent on carbon based energy sources? If so, what is in the plan to replace carbon based energy with sources that are both usable and economic? What's in the plan for this?

Or is the "plan" merely a means to an end -- that end being more taxes in the form of the cap and trade scam? Or to tax the crap out of carbon based energy sources to get to that holy grail the Left has been drooling about for years --- $5 a gallon or more for gas and diesel, which will slam the economy into another steep tailspin?

You said nothing in your piece about what kind of plan should be passed --- only that a nice sounding plan [who cares what's in it and what it does to the American people] would make Obama's image "better" than Carter's [faint praise indeed]. What a flack.

Posted by: CREEBOLD | June 15, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

The White House is soliciting questions for the post address Q&A.

Vote on the questions or submit your own:

http://www.youtube.com/whitehouse

Here's my question:

"If one of the worries of Gulf Coast residents is the loss of jobs due to a moratorium on oil drilling, can we locate some renewable energy manufacturing plants in the region to stem job losses while encouraging domestic production of clean energy?"

Go here to vote for my question:

http://www.google.com/moderator/g/yt/?embed=http://youtube.com/whitehouse/#8/e=12142

Posted by: Ethan2010 | June 15, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

Energy Independance and Clean Air and Water.

That is all he needs to stress.

Arguing about Climate Change is what the Energy Cartel wants you to do.

If you focus on Clean Energy and freedom from dependance on Foreign oil, you will have a much better chance of getting the American people to support what you are trying to achieve.

The Global Warming issue is lost. None of the big nations are willing to be the first to do anything about it.

Al Gore has talked a lot, and gotten rewards, and wealth, and yet no really global pact has been signed off on and launched.

Politicians run on getting elected now, which means they will always deal in short term expediency, and never push hard to implement long term required changes, which are currently unpopular.

On the other hand, large countries, such as China, are not the least bit interested in putting the brakes on their industrial revolution.

China, Brazil, India, etc, will only pay lip service to slowing down "global warming", but they will not take any real steps to try and do so. Accordingly, all the rest of the world is let off the hook.

Clean Energy Independence is the best that the USA can hope to accomplish by 2050, and it should also plan for the worst, because if Global Warming does flood the coastal areas, then massive population displacement will take place. Imagine millions of displaced and homeless migrants moving further inland, to population centers that are already crowded, and short on jobs.

Better plan ahead America, because that train has already left the station, and can not be stopped.

Posted by: Liam-still | June 15, 2010 5:46 PM | Report abuse

There is a really stunning article in this month's Atlantic Monthly on how in the space of about 20 years not only our society but societies all over the world women are becoming the dominant force as the work most men have done becomes less remunerative if it hasn't disappeared altogether. Women now get 60% of the college degrees, 60% of the master's degrees, and most of the professional degrees except in fields heavy in science and math. They hold over 50% of all managerial jobs now. The reasons seem to be women are better at learning and communicating, and more flexible and adaptive.

Meanwhile manufacturing, construction and high finance have all suffered huge job losses, and in at least the first two, the jobs won't come back, at least not for a very long time. As a consequence women hold most of the cards and call the shots in many if not most families.

All of which is to say that we desperately need to create jobs for men pronto, and investment in energy infrastructure and green tech/green manufacturing jobs is the way to go. It not only ensures a better and healthier future, but revitalizes our economy and attacks structural unemployment.

There are worse things than taxes, and among them are hotter than hell summers, lots of fires and floods, and lots of unemployed young and not so young men flooding the streets.

Posted by: Mimikatz | June 15, 2010 5:56 PM | Report abuse

Ethan, something is wrong with the link to your question!

Posted by: suekzoo1 | June 15, 2010 6:04 PM | Report abuse

sue, try this link:

http://www.google.com/moderator/g/yt/?embed=http://youtube.com/whitehouse/#15/e=12142&t=12142.41&f=12142.4910d&q=12142.4910d

Posted by: Ethan2010 | June 15, 2010 6:08 PM | Report abuse

Moonbatz:
"All of which is to say that we desperately need to create jobs for men pronto,"

Really? Then get out of the way.

"...and investment in energy infrastructure and green tech/green manufacturing jobs is the way to go."

Don't you worry your head about that, just get out of the way. If there's a market for green weenie whatever, then the jobs will create themselves.

"It not only ensures a better and healthier future, but revitalizes our economy and attacks structural unemployment. "

You forgot to mention that unicorn farts smell GOOD.

Look, none of this has been demonstrated, and thus all of this panacea remains to be proven.
At this point, it's nothing more than another sales pitch to advocate a government subsidy for unicorn ranchers and magic bean factories,
This is part of the problem, since money that the Fed subsidizes one place, it takes from another.

Get out of the way.

"There are worse things than taxes, and among them are hotter than hell summers, lots of fires and floods, and lots of unemployed young and not so young men flooding the streets."

It seems that you may be smart enough to realize what's coming at us, but are you smart enough to step off the tracks BEFORE the train hits you?

Get out of the way.

Posted by: Bilgeman | June 15, 2010 6:09 PM | Report abuse

"since money that the Fed subsidizes one place, it takes from another."

Exactly. Take it AWAY from oil. Give it to renewables.

Get out of the way, Bilgeshill.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | June 15, 2010 6:11 PM | Report abuse

Anyone else see the takedown on Rachel Maddow last night of the oil industry lack of plan and their political machinations to get deregulated? Also the Bush efforts to make all that happen?

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/37704859/ns/msnbc_tv-rachel_maddow_show/

Money quote:

"The oil industry has already proven it doesn't know how to deal with a spill at 5,000 feet, but here is Shell Oil bragging about their new well which is moored in 8,000 feet of water.

Hey, Ayn Rand fans, hey, libertarians, if you were counting on the industry to police itself in the wake of the BP disaster? This is what that looks like."

Posted by: BGinCHI | June 15, 2010 6:11 PM | Report abuse

mimi, I for one welcome our female overlords.

Posted by: BGinCHI | June 15, 2010 6:12 PM | Report abuse

All, Happy Hour Roundup posted:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/06/happy_hour_roundup_29.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | June 15, 2010 6:12 PM | Report abuse

Right on.

There has to be substantive change.

At this point, there is nothing to lose by going all out with a progressive agenda to move the US forward. And, in the end, Obama and his colleagues can look back with pride at some meaningful accomplishment -- if they get energy and sustainability policies implemented.

By passing energy reform legislation, Obama's administration would have a lasting impact, would make a memorable contribution. This would earn long-term respect at home and around the globe.

The US is out of step. And not serving as a very good model for
the rest of the world. We do not act as smart or as wealthy as our peers or those less able when it comes to energy use.

New networks and infrastructure must be developed to capture and transmit alternate sources of of energy, and to transport goods and people. Initiatives to advance sustainable development of our cities to allow more efficient use of resources must go hand in hand.

In the process, jobs will also be created. That would be a welcome bonus.

Posted by: publicinterest | June 15, 2010 6:32 PM | Report abuse

Hillary Clinton for President in 2012. She can and will get the job done unlike a certain someone aka Jimmy Carter 2.0

Posted by: Scholar272391 | June 15, 2010 7:44 PM | Report abuse


There can be no greater testimony to the danger of putting inexperienced people in high office than what we are witnessing now with this president. And it's not just HIS inexperience that we're dealing with, but the inexperienced people he hires to deal with the problem in the gulf. The answer is, as always, a new tax and more lawyers. As the oil continues to gush.

Posted by: RossOdom | June 15, 2010 8:08 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, Ross, we should get another failed oilman/Texas Rangers owner.

Genius.

Posted by: BGinCHI | June 15, 2010 8:21 PM | Report abuse

This speech will be described by the Liberal press as great oraory.

The truth is, it will exactly the same as Barry (soetoro)'s other great speeches. Just another Obama (aka) public BOWEL MOVEMENT.

Obama has turned the Oval Office, into the Oval Lavatory.


The way to actually get this incompetant "herd rider' and his band of incompetant clowns to act would be to declare the entire Gulf Coast, a national GOLF COURSE.

But you know the appropriate analagies. "you get what you pay for". "You pay peanuts, you get monkeys" (actually, the latter is a complement)

--------------------------------------------

QUOTE OF THE CENTURY……….MAYBE EVEN THE MILLENIUM

This quotation came from the Czech Republic . Someone over there has it figured out. We have a lot of work to do here.

"The danger to America is not Barack Obama but a citizenry capable of entrusting a man like him with the Presidency. It will be far easier to limit and undo the follies of an Obama presidency than to restore the necessary common sense and good judgment to a depraved electorate willing to have such a man for their president. The problem is much deeper and far more serious than Mr. Obama, who is a mere symptom of what ails America. Blaming the prince of the fools should not blind anyone to the vast confederacy of fools that made him their prince. The Republic can survive a Barack Obama, who is, after all, merely a fool. It is less likely to survive a multitude of fools such as those who made him their president."

Posted by: armagedon | June 15, 2010 8:40 PM | Report abuse

Obama could 'quiet the Jimmy Carter comparisons' by not acting like Jimmy Carter. Their shared anti-semitism aside, Obama could advocate building 50 new nuclear power plants and finishing the nuclear waste disposal site at Yucca Mountain. Then he could open up ANWR for drilling and reverse his idiotic, job killing six month moratorium on off-shore oil drilling. It also might be nice if he stopped blaming Bush for his own failures. After all we didn't see President Bush blaming the debacle that was the Clinton administration for the attack on the twin towers.

Posted by: oldno7 | June 15, 2010 8:45 PM | Report abuse

I knew he would blame the people for using oil. Calling us addicts on drugs and that kind of thing and thats exactly what he did. Classic Jimmy Carter move. This guy is a one-termer.

Posted by: Truthteller12 | June 15, 2010 9:17 PM | Report abuse

HE IS NOT CARTER HE IS A USURPER SHOW YOUR PAST LIAR IN CHIEF

Posted by: yourmomscalling | June 15, 2010 10:16 PM | Report abuse

"Exactly. Take it AWAY from oil. Give it to renewables."

Yep, what we desperately need is some good old central government command and control economic planning.

None Dare Call It Socialism.

Posted by: quarterback1 | June 15, 2010 11:15 PM | Report abuse

Greg:

"All of which is to say that the best way for Obama to quiet the Carter comparisons, and all the chatter about his impotence, is to pass comprehensive energy reform. "

Right. Because that's why Carter is known as a failure....he didn't pass energy reform

You are becoming a parody of yourself, Greg.

Posted by: ScottC3 | June 15, 2010 11:27 PM | Report abuse

George W. Bush said that Americans Are Addicted to oil. "Truth Teller", get that through your thick skull!!!

Posted by: Liam-still | June 16, 2010 10:46 AM | Report abuse

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