Barack Obama is repeating the mistakes of his predecessors. His weak response to the gulf oil spill has angered his base as well as the right and center. Obama’s lack of executive experience and knowledge of history has led him into perilous political territory. The American public has seen this act before. In particular, Obama is playing the role of President Kennedy during the Bay of Pigs and President Carter during the malaise and Iran Hostage Crisis.
Following the April oil spill, President Obama deferred to the bureaucracy. While other presidents have assembled experts to advise them, Obama has not. He has stuck with the bureaucrats that allegedly know what they are doing. As a result, the gulf coast is still waiting for help and states are cleaning up without government approval.
In 1961, John Kennedy followed the bureaucrats. They had a plan to overthrow Castro using Cuban exiles. The president did not question them nor did he look for other opinions. The Bay of Pigs was a disaster and led to the Cuban Missile Crisis. Kennedy never forgave himself after the Bay of Pigs. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy circumvented the bureaucrats. He learned his lesson.
Three presidents later, the country floundered under the weight of a major recession and energy crisis as opposed to the threat of a nuclear Cuba. Frustrated by the negativity, Jimmy Carter went on national television and gave his “Malaise” speech. He never actually used the word. Instead, he spoke of a “crisis of confidence.” He came off like an evangelical preacher instead of a leader. Carter’s speech confused and angered Americans.
Barack Obama achieved the same reaction with his gulf oil spill address. Instead of reassuring people, Obama looked like one of those birds drowning in oil. Although he promised a cleanup, the message got lost as he went off topic. While Carter blamed Americans for their malaise, Obama pushed a Cap and Trade bill. Like Carter, Obama’s speech confused and angered Americans. He appeared clueless and tone deaf as the oil spill approached its sixtieth day. Instead of acting quickly, Obama allowed the crisis to drag on.
A lengthy crisis can decimate a president’s political capital. Herbert Hoover appeared helpless in the face of the Great Depression. Vietnam dragged Lyndon Johnson down as it wore on. For Carter, the Iran Hostage Crisis sunk his presidency. At first, people overwhelmingly rallied to the president. However, as the crisis continued, people began to question Carter’s competence. Every night, people saw Americans in blindfolds being held by terrorists. A little nation kidnapped Americans and the president was helpless to stop them. When he did act, the rescue attempt collapsed and Americans died. The American people fired Carter.
The Iranian crisis lasted 444 days. Every night the media broadcast how many days had passed for the hostages. Obama now faces a potential Carter-esque disaster. As the oil drips in the gulf, the media lets people know how long the region has been drowning. Every night, the media shows images of birds coated in oil. Like Carter in 1980, Obama looks incompetent and helpless. The oil spill combined with anger over spending, jobs, and health care will probably decimate the Democrats in November 2010 the same way the Hostage Crisis, economy, and jobs doomed them in 1980.
President Obama came into office with little experience. As a result, he lacked the requisite knowledge for the job. Obama has failed to learn from history. Like Kennedy, he listened to the bureaucrats and disaster resulted. Like Carter, he gave a tone deaf speech that confused and angered even his base. Also like Carter, the length of the crisis has worn on the public forcing many to take a good look and question his competence. Obama tried to portray himself as a Roosevelt or a Lincoln, but right now he looks like a Carter or a Hoover.
For more on the Hostage Crisis: www.cakechow.com/examiner/x-24794-American-History-Examiner~y2009m11d6-The-1979-Iranian-Revolution, www.cakechow.com/examiner/x-24794-American-History-Examiner~y2009m11d7-The-Iran-Hostage-Crisis-and-Fall-of-Jimmy-Carter
Carter and the economy: www.cakechow.com/examiner/x-24794-American-History-Examiner~y2010m6d21-The-Worst-Economy-Since-the-Great-Depression