Uh Oh: Politico Discusses The Carter/Obama Comparison


It’s never a good thing when a Democrat leaning news source compares Obama to Carter, even if the two writers, Bob King and Darren Goode, work hard to say ” hey, no, he’s really not the same as Carter. No No No!” Just the very fact that the comparison is brought up seals the comparison. They even have a handy dandy cartoon with the two presidents

(The Politico) Not since the era of roller disco, Ford Pintos and “Welcome Back, Kotter” has a Democratic president faced the political fallout of soaring gasoline prices.

On the surface, at least, President Barack Obama seems to be doing all he can to avoid following the cardigan-clad example of Jimmy Carter.

Obama hasn’t gone on television with a Mr. Rogers sweater, telling everyone to turn down their thermostats in winter. But he has gone on the populist attack – denouncing oil industry tax breaks and lampooning Republicans’ “bumper sticker” solutions while raising their ire by borrowing their “all of the above” energy mantra.

On substance, though, the two presidents’ approaches bear many similarities: Both embrace conservation – including, in Obama’s case, a drive for energy-efficient buildings and higher vehicle fuel efficiency standards. Both talk up wind and solar power. And both lean heavily on the Energy Department – an agency Carter created and on which Obama has relied to promote the green technologies that he says will bring future jobs and prosperity.

The article points out that the comparison might be rather unfair, because Carter at least promoted coal and nuclear power. The Obama administration is killing coal plants, and keeping the process for new nuclear plants as slow as possible. 160 coal plants have closed since 2010. Supposedly, the power loss is magically going to appear. Which might make sense if energy costs weren’t going up again and again.

Like Carter, though, Obama hasn’t greenlighted the exploration of domestic oil. Granted, in all honesty, neither Nixon nor Ford did, either. They didn’t see the coming problem, and, in double honesty, Carter was, to some degree, a victim of circumstances. So was Bush 43, and Obama. Sh*t happens. But, when the fan gets fouled, it’s how an administration responds that matters. Carter’s response was his malaise and sweater speech. Obama’s is to talk about algae and other energy helping sometime in the future. And talking. And talking. But, taking no significant steps that matter.

When Reagan took office, he said “we’re going to drill.” We did, and that helped for decades. Things happened along the way, things mostly out of the hands of Clinton, who saw prices spike up at the end of his 2nd term, and Bush. And Obama. Bush said “let’s drill!” and instituted as many policies he could, even as the Democrat congress tied his hands. Obama says “no drilling.”

Carter ended up owning high gas prices in many voters’ eyes – a fate Obama no doubt wants to avoid.

“When the guy who’s at the top of the food chain here can’t fix the problem, you got a lot of people that are irritated,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee who criticized Obama for not doing enough to eliminate roadblocks to energy production. “This is one where if the public doesn’t feel like he’s responded on this issue, I think he wears it.”

For once, Murkowski seems to have it right. Sadly, Obama could actually do something while pushing the future of energy. He could greenlight new oil fields and refineries, as well as nuclear plants, fast-track them, while getting concessions from Republicans for more investment in alternatives and biofuels. That’s the nature of politics, instead of the “my way or the highway…er, well, you can’t actually afford to drive on the highway, so, let’s say, nature trail” method. For both, there could be set methods to make sure drilling, refineries, and nuclear would be safe as they can be, and so there is no politically motivated waste, such as with Solyndra. Invest in projects that have a good chance of working.

Crossed at Pirate’s Cove. Follow me on Twitter @WilliamTeach.

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