For a politician, optimism sells. As a student of history, President Obama appears painfully aware that the tired-looking doom of Jimmy Carter turned off a whole generation of US voters.
In February 1977, two weeks into his presidency, Carter told the American people in a fireside chat that “we must face the fact that the energy shortage is permanent”. In April 1977, in another address to the nation, Carter’s opening words were “Tonight I want to have an unpleasant talk with you”. Carter then went on to talk about the potential of the energy crisis to “overwhelm us” and that if the country didn’t act on energy “the alternative may be a national catastrophe”. Over 30 years later, to hear a politician deliver such an unrelenting stream of bad news appears almost shocking.
Fast forward a mere seven year, and the Carter gloom had the character of a long-forgotten bad dream. Ronald Reagan played against it constantly, most blatantly in his “It’s morning again in America” campaign. Continue reading