Americans are in general are a practical, pragmatic and smart people. They've heard debt, class warfare and subsidized green industry for thirty-two months and it's beginning to wear even on the unicorn wing of the Democratic Party. This phenomenon among Americans isn't new as history does indeed repeat itself. Back in 1976, the electorate placed James Earl Carter in the White House in response to the political dark ages brought upon us by the Nixon years. Carter's entry was a clean sweep, wrapped in optimism and its own visionary thinking, including new departments for education and energy. Carter, like Obama, governed an America hobbled by stagflation and expensive energy. His administration was characterized by its inexperience and by the "hands on" attitude of its leader. Late in his term and stymied by a lack of options to address a drifting economy and crushing energy shortage, Carter's frustration emerged in his famous "crisis of confidence" speech where he placed much of the blame on ordinary Americans and their lifestyles. To a large degree Carter was right, but Americans took umbrage at his remarks and used this speech as well as a series of crises in 1980 to vote him out of office.
There's one more part to this story. It involves Carter's encounter with a swamp rabbit a few months before his "crisis" speech. That incident involved a terrified rabbit's attempt to escape the hounds by seeking refuge in the president's rowboat. It was a small lake and a small boat, and the President wasn't about to share it with a frenzied Sylvilagus aquaticus. Who would? Nevertheless, the story emerged of Carter splashing the water with his paddle and forcing the hapless bunny into the hinterland. Though there were no photographs until well into the next decade, the vision of a harried president thrashing at a killer rabbit were fixed in time and place.
OTR sees many parallels--how can one not!-- in the Carter and Obama presidencies. Tomorrow's speech may well be another one unless this president can redirect his policies toward hope and change based in practical and pragmatic capitalism. Otherwise it's going to sound like all the rhetoric we've heard these last and long thirty-two months. And the patience among Americans is already thin. Should Obama bring us more of the same, he simply will be waiting for the rabbit.