A Comparison: Carter & Obama

February 16, 2023

This writing first appeared in Larry's book: 
Something is Rotten in America: Writings of a Sane Man in an Insane World

This writing contains minimal editing of the original.

 Obama and Carter Two of a Kind but Different

An online search will turn up numerous credible reports strongly suggesting the citizens of the United States do not have adequate leadership from the Oval Office - the room where U.S. presidents conduct official business. Some among us say Obama is the worst president ever. In addition, it is common to hear unflattering comparisons of President Obama to another failed president, Jimmy Carter. Can it be true? Can President Obama really be the 21st century Jimmy Carter?

It is true Carter did not make us proud. It is also true President Obama is not making us proud. In the short 236-year history of the United States since the signing of the Declaration of Independence, we have elected two less-than-desirable presidents in a 32-year span. I dare say this first-paragraph excerpt from Profiles of U.S. Presidents about Carter describes how many of us perceive President Obama:
Well before the troubles in Iran and Afghanistan, political commentators had begun to predict that Carter would serve for only one term. To many commentators, he seemed to be a failure and responsible for his own difficulties. Although he was intelligent, worked hard, and was honest, sincere, and emotionally secure, he seemed to suffer from inexperience in dealing in Washington and from heavy reliance on inexperienced advisers. He tried to do too much himself and did not have a chief of staff coordinating work in the White House and its relations with others. He appeared to be indecisive, made too many proposals at a time, did not define his priorities clearly, and did not have a carefully articulated philosophy to help him make such a definition. He seemed to have contempt for the realities of the Washington scene and to be uninterested in working closely with organized groups, congressmen, and his party. He frequently denounced Congress—a Congress controlled by his own party—as dominated by special interests like the oil companies. And he seemed weak in his dealings with people, retreated too readily under pressure, and needed to be much more forceful.

How can President Obama, the man with a vision for the country that more than 51% of the voters seemingly found refreshing in both 2008 and 2012 - the only person to achieve such a feat since Eisenhower in 1956 - be that bad? Can this be? Probably not but perceptions are all we have until historians have enough information to rank his performance in relation to the earlier 43 presidents.

As I read the above excerpt from Profiles of U.S. Presidents and news reports since 2008 about President Obama, I perceive these similarities between the two men, the men who share the dubious distinction of failing the American people:
• Predictions of serving one term only. 
• Each is responsible for their failures and difficulties
• Each is intelligent, works hard, honest, sincere and emotionally secure.
• Each lacked experience working in Washington.
• Each has the need to be more forceful.
An abundance of online articles supports my conclusions.

Both men seemed like the right person at the time in the minds of a majority of the voters before their respective election victories. However, there were differences as well.

President Carter, a U.S. Navy officer and Annapolis graduate had executive experience as a peanut farmer and Governor of Georgia when he assumed the presidency. President Obama assumed the presidency with no known for-profit executive experience, no elected executive experience - other than managing his own staff - and no military experience.

Jimmy Carter had a record of private sector achievements in terms of make or break decisions prior to serving as our president. As a business executive, his poor decisions could give rise to disastrous consequences for him, his family and business associates. Prior to becoming our president, Barack Obama’s risk from poor decisions was minimal. Sure, he could have lost his job as a community organizer but no big deal for with his education he would have recovered in short order and without pounding the pavement looking for work as do many of the unemployed today.

Carter had a record that suggested he was what we needed after living through the Nixon days. President Obama’s very thin resume and his record of no significant achievements entering the 2008 campaign gave no indication he is what we need.

Yes, we reelected Obama but only because of low information voters, those that based their votes on campaign promises, candidate appearance and charisma, media reports, celebrity endorsements, college professor's influences, peer influences, and family influences. This is not to say all voters who voted for Obama are low information voters but that there were enough low information voters to put Obama over the top.

History repeats, they say. Perhaps the election of 2016 will bring another Ronald Reagan to our rescue, a man or woman riding into Washington on a white horse.


Now that we are in 2023, the question is: How did we do since the Obama days?  The answer: Nothing to write home about.  

We are like a ship at sea steaming along in Obama's third term. Yes, third term - not a typo.

Why should we expect better when considering:
  • The Free Republic1 reported Barack Obama as the most liberal senator and Joe Biden as the third most liberal senator in 2007, their last year serving together in the U.S. Senate, based on their senate voting records. (Biden trailed the second most liberal senator, Sheldon Whitehouse, by just one-tenth of a point.)
  • Obama and Biden served the people of the United States as president and vice president respectively from January 2009 to January 2017.
  • Now, Biden is our president.
Go figure, huh?