On-line Opinion Magazine…OK, it's a blog
Random header image... Refresh for more!

The More Things Change…

An opinion piece at McClatchy’s reminded me of Jimmy Carter’s address to the nation on July 15, 1979. This link provides audio, video, and a transcript of the speech that the GOP and media called the “malaise speech”, although “malaise” isn’t mentioned, and Carter called The Crisis of Confidence.

I recommend reading it because Jimmy Carter sounds extremely boring when he gets serious, and this was a very serious speech. This is his diagnosis of the national problem thirty years ago:

As you know, there is a growing disrespect for government and for churches and for schools, the news media, and other institutions. This is not a message of happiness or reassurance, but it is the truth and it is a warning.

These changes did not happen overnight. They’ve come upon us gradually over the last generation, years that were filled with shocks and tragedy.

We were sure that ours was a nation of the ballot, not the bullet, until the murders of John Kennedy and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. We were taught that our armies were always invincible and our causes were always just, only to suffer the agony of Vietnam. We respected the Presidency as a place of honor until the shock of Watergate.

We remember when the phrase “sound as a dollar” was an expression of absolute dependability, until 10 years of inflation began to shrink our dollar and our savings. We believed that our Nation’s resources were limitless until 1973, when we had to face a growing dependence on foreign oil.

These wounds are still very deep. They have never been healed.

Looking for a way out of this crisis, our people have turned to the Federal Government and found it isolated from the mainstream of our Nation’s life. Washington, D.C., has become an island. The gap between our citizens and our Government has never been so wide. The people are looking for honest answers, not easy answers; clear leadership, not false claims and evasiveness and politics as usual.

What you see too often in Washington and elsewhere around the country is a system of government that seems incapable of action. You see a Congress twisted and pulled in every direction by hundreds of well-financed and powerful special interests. You see every extreme position defended to the last vote, almost to the last breath by one unyielding group or another. You often see a balanced and a fair approach that demands sacrifice, a little sacrifice from everyone, abandoned like an orphan without support and without friends.

Sound familiar? It is unfortunate for the nation that Ted Kennedy decided that he deserved the Presidency in 1980 [because his name was Kennedy], as he split the Democrats and allowed Reagan to win. Jimmy Carter suffered from being right and speaking the truth as he saw it. He is a very underrated President.


1 Steve Bates { 07.14.09 at 12:06 am }

I’ve often said that Carter is the best human being of our time to have lost the presidency. As to his ability to be uninteresting in his prose, suffice it to say that I’ve read about half of his novel, and I doubt I’ll finish it…

It may turn out that Reagan’s election was the beginning of the end for our nation; I am not sure. It certainly was the beginning of the opportunity for the neocons to start swinging the wrecking ball.

(Aside: Carter is the only president I’ve ever seen speak live, in Houston’s Hermann Park in 1980. Earlier, I saw LBJ debark from a helicopter almost a mile from me on the Rice U. campus, but I don’t think that counts.)
.-= ´s last blog ..In Honor Of Marcy Wheeler =-.

2 Bryan { 07.14.09 at 12:42 am }

I saw Eisenhower during his visit to Germany when I was in middle school, from the sidewalk when he drove by.

Jerry Ford when he was still in Congress and I was stationed outside of DC. I forget the details, but it was in a store in the suburbs.

Clinton came to Eglin a couple of times, but I was too far away to recognize him, until someone said that’s who it was on the flight line. I was attending classes on the base at the time.

The Shrubbery drove by in a bus a block away.

Carter has been down a couple of times for Habitat events, before and after Katrina, but he was hammering, not talking.

Can’t say I ever heard any of them giving a speech live.

Carter understood the problems and developed solutions, but everyone was looking for an easy out. If we had stayed with his energy program we wouldn’t be in the mess we are in over imported oil and the global warming wouldn’t be as bad.

People didn’t want to sacrifice anything, and we are paying the price.