Carrying Over Carter's Ineptitude
Leadership: In 1976, Americans thought they were sending an outsider to the White House. Today, the same policies so thoroughly discredited by Jimmy Carter's disastrous presidency define the Democratic Party.
It's tempting to think of the Carter Administration's seemingly endless series of catastrophes as an aberration brought on by a yokel peanut farmer. In fact, the former Georgia governor's thinking as president strongly resembles that of Democrats today:
• Just as Carter lamented America's "inordinate fear of communism," Democrats today accuse the president of imagining Islamic terrorists are under the bed. (By the way, some of those "imaginary" terrorists were just caught plotting to kill thousands by blowing up New York's JFK Airport.)
• While Carter believed "human rights" was the real global struggle, not the Cold War, Democrats today reject the global war on terror. It's a "bumper-sticker political slogan," says Sen. John Edwards. We should abandon Iraq, where al-Qaida is now strongest, says Sen. Barack Obama, and "focus on the critical battle that we have in Afghanistan" — in other words, the war on terror is just a wild goose chase for the sickly (or dead) Osama bin Laden.
• As Carter refused to fight the Cold War, today's Democrats refuse to support President Bush's innovative and effective fight against terrorists — in spite of his perfect record in protecting the homeland. What Edwards calls "spying on Americans" and "torture" are the key programs that have helped foil more than a dozen terrorist plots around the world: the National Security Agency surveillance program tracking Americans' phone calls and e-mails to suspected terrorists abroad, and the CIA's foreign prisons program, allowing tough interrogation of enemy detainees.
• Carter decimated our defenses, reducing military spending to pre-Pearl Harbor levels, and told the world that America could no longer use our armed forces abroad in defense of our interests. Today, Democratic presidential candidates are slow to specify the weapons systems they intend to scrap as "outmoded relics of the Cold War," as Obama put it last Sunday, but like both Carter and Bill Clinton, they're sure to take money from the Pentagon for spending on big domestic programs.
• Strongly reminiscent of Carter, Sen. Hillary Clinton promised to be "a president who is committed to diplomacy . . ." Carter's replacement of might with talk wreaked havoc around the world. Soon after he kissed Soviet premier Leonid Brezhnev on both cheeks in Vienna, Russia invaded Afghanistan (and Osama bin Laden at age 23 would go there to organize the anti-Soviet forerunner of al-Qaida). Carter removed our nukes from South Korea to better ties with communist North Korea; today, North Korea has tested a bomb and will soon have missiles to carry them to our shores. We abandoned the Shah of Iran for "human rights" offenses; today, oil-rich Tehran is a terrorist state and soon-to-be nuclear power.
• If a future Democratic president were to apply Carteresque diplomacy to the Middle East, trying to "talk" Iran out of building nukes before they could use such weapons or give them to fellow Islamofascists in al-Qaida or other terrorist groups, the U.S., Israel or some other country might pay for it by being attacked with a nuke.
• With a huge hike in payroll taxes, Carter claimed to "fix" Social Security and keep the system solvent until 2030; it, of course, didn't work. The system goes into the red about a decade from now. Similarly, Hillary, Edwards and Obama all plan to "fix" health care, while mostly keeping mum about new taxes. Hillary even promises "$120 billion in savings" with her latest version of socialized medicine. Don't believe it: In 1970, Medicare cost less than $8 billion; now it exceeds $250 billion per year — a cost explosion none of the politicians or "experts" who fathered the program believed possible.
As Hillary noted in Sunday's debate: "The differences among us are minor. The differences between us and the Republicans are major. And I don't want anybody in America to be confused."
No one should be. The next Democratic president may not be as naive and incompetent as Jimmy Carter. But he or she will endanger our lives by appeasing our enemies, ravage our economy by raising our taxes, and threaten the government's solvency with misguided new government programs.
We got away with presidential ineptitude in the 1970s. In an age of terror, we may not be so lucky.