Jimmy Carter comparisons are all the rage these days.
Jimmy Carter 2.0 is worried about being seen as…Jimmy Carter 2.0.https://t.co/kn6M3zXwYP
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) June 6, 2022
Joe Biden is the new Jimmy Carter:
-And rising gas prices
2021 meet 1979.
— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) May 11, 2021
Even Kamala Harris described America as being in a state of “malaise” under Joe Biden’s leadership.
The Biden-Carter comparison is a natural one, and not just because Biden shares Carter’s gruesome approval ratings. Both had to cope with similar problems: Inflation, an energy shock, Russian assertiveness, and the implosion of an American Middle East ally. Both inspired widespread feeling that the American superpower was over-the-hill and soon to be surpassed by foreign rivals.
And then, there’s the personal dimension: Joe Biden was the first U.S. senator to endorse Carter for president all the way back in 1975, when Carter was a longshot dark horse candidate for the Democratic nomination.
Unfortunately for Joe Biden and the American people, however, Joe Biden isn’t half the man Jimmy Carter was, despite the hilarious optical illusion captured in this viral fish-lens photograph.
Thank you President and Mrs. Biden! pic.twitter.com/QcA33iUev4
— The Carter Center (@CarterCenter) May 4, 2021
Joseph Robinette Biden only wishes that he could be mentioned in the same breath as Jimmy Carter, but in reality, the comparison between the two only shows just how far the U.S. has fallen.
Carter’s presidency was so disastrous that in 1980 he suffered the worst landslide loss of any incumbent president in history. Only time will tell if Biden suffers the same fate—if he even lives that long. But we’re ready to say it right now: If we had to choose between Uncle Jimmy and Old Joe, we’re taking taking the peanut farmer from Georgia every day of the week. Let us explain.
Jimmy Carter was a naval officer who heroically prevented a catastrophic nuclear meltdown. Joe Biden is a third-rate demagogue accused of graft who graduated at the bottom of Syracuse Law.
Most people have never heard the story of Jimmy Carter lowering himself into a nuclear reactor and preventing the world’s first nuclear meltdown.
Do you remember the world’s very first nuclear meltdown? That time the US President, an expert in nuclear physics, heroically lowered himself into the reactor and saved Ottawa, Canada’s capital?
Sounds like schlocky action movie, but it actually happened! pic.twitter.com/LtAQYC79QZ
— Jeff Lundeen (@LundeenOttawa) December 15, 2021
The New York Post has the details of the story:
As the story goes, the Plains, Ga., native planned his entire life to join the Navy — and did so when he received his appointment to the Naval Academy in 1942. After graduating with distinction, Carter spent two years completing his service ship duty before signing on to the Submarine Force. Following a series of relocations and promotions, the young lieutenant would request to join Captain Hyman G. Rickover’s nuclear sub program, where they were developing the world’s first atomic subs.
Rickover then sent Carter to work for the US Atomic Energy Commission, where he served on temporary duty with the Naval Reactors Branch. Meanwhile, a few months later, an accidental power surge at Chalk River Laboratories in Ottawa caused fuel rods within a nuclear research reactor to rupture and melt — risking a full nuclear meltdown.
It was the first such incident of its kind, and Carter’s team of 23 men was ordered to clean it up.
In a scene straight out of modern-day blockbusters, the operation would require the brave men to descend into the core by rope and pulley so they could deconstruct the reactor bolt by bolt. The lab had set up a duplicate reactor as a training field for Carter’s team, who would get only one shot at the real thing. Each man would have to descend into the core and complete their high-flying tasks in 90-second spurts, as exposure to toxic radiation within the reactor posed a high risk to their long-term health.
Their plan went off without a hitch. The core was shut down and then rebuilt. From there, Carter went on to become the engineering officer for the USS Seawolf, one of the first submarines to operate on atomic power. By 1961, he retired from the Navy and Reserves, and, in 1963, ran for his first political office.
Jimmy Carter was indeed an expert in reactor technology and nuclear physics who served as a submariner in the Navy, rising to the rank of lieutenant. And Joe Biden? He’s a liar or a fabricator who claimed to finish in the top half of his class at Syracuse Law School, when actually, he finished near the bottom.
Biden’s infamous lying meltdown went the equivalent of “viral” back in the day. The angry senator angrily snapped at a voter, claiming he had a “much higher IQ than you.”
Combined with a plagiarism scandal, Biden’s lies and exaggerations forced him to drop out of the 1988 presidential race.
Biden even went so far as to plagiarize an Irish politician’s speeches, even lifting his life story nearly word for word. RealClearPolitics thoroughly chronicled Joe Biden’s history of plagiarism in a report which featured this extremely egregious example (emphasis ours):
The most egregious example, as described by Maureen Dowd when it happened, occurred Aug. 23, 1987, during a debate at the Iowa State Fair. Biden had been lifting entire lines of his stock stump speech from Britain’s then-Labor Party leader, Neil Kinnock, who was campaigning for prime minister across the pond.
“He [Biden] lifted Mr. Kinnock’s closing speech with phrases, gestures and lyrical Welsh syntax intact for his own closing speech,” Dowd reported for the New York Times.
As reporters dug deeper, they found more. Biden didn’t just steal Kinnock’s political rhetoric, he appropriated his life story, including a coal mining grandfather. This was worse than it looked: Kinnock’s Welsh grandfather did work in the mines. Biden’s, although he lived in Pennsylvania coal country, sold cars. Did Biden believe that British politics was so removed from Americans’ experience that he could get away with it? Maybe, but if that were the case, Biden wouldn’t have ripped off lines almost directly from John F. Kennedy and his brother, Robert Kennedy.
We could go on and on about Joe Biden, his brother James, his son Hunter, and their alleged corrupt business transactions and foreign dealings, but you already know all the details. Meanwhile, Jimmy Carter has always shunned chasing after riches, living modestly into old age in a small house in his Georgia hometown.
When it comes to character, there simply is no comparison. Joseph Robinette Biden is so thoroughly outclassed by Jimmy Carter, they aren’t even in the same stratosphere.
Carter actually had the slightest idea what was going on as president.
Say whatever you will about Carter as president: He was actually the president. In fact, one of Carter’s chief shortcomings as chief executive was his propensity to try and micromanage every aspect of the vast federal apparatus like it was his old Georgia peanut farm. Carter notoriously pored over thick briefing books and personally double-checked the arithmetic of budgetary tables. He even, for the first few months of his presidency, personally approved requests to use the White House tennis court.
This sort of micromanagement created all kinds of problems, but nobody ever had the sinking feeling that nobody was at the helm in the White House. Nobody ever had to endure President Carter doing something like this:
Biden says there's a lot of "major things" he's done, he just hasn't "been able to communicate it in a way that is, uh, um…"
He then starts rambling about reporters getting "clicks on the nightly news" and they cut to commercial. pic.twitter.com/uTiEu495C2
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) June 9, 2022
Carter’s energy crisis wasn’t entirely self-inflicted.
The economic stagnation of the 1970s was caused and defined by a sharp increase in the price of oil. Before the World War II, America produced a majority of the world’s oil and was completely self-sufficient. But with dramatic growth in global demand and declining U.S. production, in the 50s and 60s America increasingly turned to imports. This left it profoundly vulnerable to the OPEC oil embargo of 1973, as well as the shock of the Shah’s overthrown in Iran six years later.
Carter’s first response to rising energy prices? Begging Americans to put on a sweater:
But that wasn’t actually all he did. Carter inherited a heavily-regulated oil regime from the Nixon years, with price controls on oil that suppressed production and led to shortages. Although supposedly to Nixon’s left, Carter chucked these price controls, allowing U.S. oil production to surge from newly-developed fields such as Prudhoe Bay in Alaska. From 1970 until Carter took office, U.S. daily oil production had fallen nearly 20 percent. Carter reversed that trend. When Carter looked to increase U.S. energy output, he looked everywhere. In his famous “malaise” speech, he even boasted about America’s vast reserves of coal.
What Carter did not do was intentionally target U.S. production to placate radicals in his party who hate all the trappings of modern civilization. Carter never froze all new drilling permits in the U.S. right before instigating an embargo of Russia. He never canceled a major pipeline because self-described “water protectors” shrilly demanded it. For Carter, the energy shortage was a difficult problem to solve, not the intended byproduct of far-left policy priorities.
Carter doomed his political future to beat inflation.
The single biggest reason that the Biden era feels like a Carter redux is the return of inflation.
The Cleveland Fed trimmed mean CPI is out & it is ugly.
It was even higher than core CPI for May. For the first time this cycle it is running higher than core for the last 12 months.
Monthly and 12-month trimmed mean are both the largest on record (data back to '83). pic.twitter.com/m0MNLud1W6
— Jason Furman (@jasonfurman) June 10, 2022
Before the Biden Malaise, Americans had been able to comfortably ignore inflation for a good forty years. But in the 1970s, inflation was a relentless and oppressive force. In each year of Carter’s presidency, inflation went up; by 1980 inflation was running at a shocking 13.55%.
But if Carter haplessly flailed against inflation for most of his presidency, by his final year he had finally set the stage for it to be fixed. One of Carter’s most consequential decisions was his appointment of Paul Volcker as Federal Reserve chair in 1979. Volcker was an inflation hawk. Carter’s aides warned him that Volcker would hike interest rates and trigger a recession to halt inflation. Volcker even told Carter he was going to do exactly that in an interview before his appointment. During confirmation hearings, Volcker said halting inflation was his number one priority. And as chairman, Volcker delivered. In 1980, the federal funds rate hit a record twenty percent.
The result was a short but severe recession. Unemployment approached 8 percent (it would surpass 10 percent early in the Reagan administration). People protested outside the Federal Reserve. But Volcker held firm, and both Congress and the president let him execute his policy. Within a few years, the necessary pain had passed, paving the way for more than two decades of largely consistent growth.
Carter himself later rued the Volcker choice in his memoirs. Doesn’t matter. Whether it was by accident or out of desperation, Carter made the call that ended the 70s stagflation cycle, inflicted a sharp but necessary correction, and paved the way for decades of healthier economic growth.
Will Biden follow the same path? Indicators aren’t good. A pending inflationary crisis was obvious from the moment Biden took office, yet for the first year his administration’s reaction resembled that of incompetent Latin American socialists. First, Biden simply denied inflation was happening; in July 2021 his administration would only concede that inflation might get “as high as 3 percent” by year’s end (it was 6.7 percent for the year). When inflation became undeniable, Biden and his allies shifted to blaming “greedy corporations” for rising prices, as if corporations trying to make money is a novel idea first thought up last year. But we shouldn’t be shocked: If Kamala Harris is any indication, “thing cost more money???” appears to be the Biden admin’s default understanding of inflation.
Kamala Harris is asked about the inflation crisis and it did not go well. pic.twitter.com/rHre6FsbLu
— The First (@TheFirstonTV) December 30, 2021
Afghanistan v. Ukraine
The 1980s war in Afghanistan was much like today’s war in Ukraine. In both cases, America waged a proxy war by arming the targets of a Russian invasion. In both cases, the American people valorized the recipients of their support even if they were not objectively that admirable (Ukraine’s government is a corrupt, authoritarian kleptocracy; the Mujahideen were the predecessors of the Taliban). And in both cases, the wisest response for America would have been to steer clear of the conflict entirely.
But at least Carter’s proxy war in Afghanistan was an actual proxy conflict: A way for the U.S. to weaken an enemy without spending outrageous sums. When Carter launched Operation Cyclone, the CIA effort to support the Mujahideen, its funding was $50 million, or about $200 million in today’s terms. Currently, America is spending more than $200 million per day to support Ukraine. And we have already committed $54 billion to backing the Kiev government, but that’s only enough to last them through September. When Biden goes back to Congress hat in hand next fall to ask for even more money, he’ll already have spent more than the $50 billion America spent on the ten-year Afghan proxy war from beginning to end.
There are differences too, and once again all of them are to Biden’s detriment. After the Soviet invasion, Carter imposed a grain export embargo, which hurt U.S. farmers while having little impact on Soviet policies. That was a waste, but fell far short of Biden’s efforts to “cancel” Russia and transform it into a continent-sized version of North Korea. Plus, some CIA provocation aside, the war in Afghanistan wasn’t substantially Carter’s fault, while the Biden Administration’s dogmatic refusal to negotiate played a central role in what is now the largest European war since 1945.
Under Carter, America still had a border.
Jimmy Carter is no hero on immigration. He did much to create the modern bait-and-switch on illegal immigration, where prior illegals are given amnesty in return for future border security that never materializes. Carter also dramatically increased refugee admissions into the United States.
Nevertheless, Carter still did see illegal immigration as undesirable and wanted it to actually stop. It only became illegal for businesses to knowingly hire illegal immigrants in 1986, but the measure President Reagan signed into law was not Reagan’s idea, it was Carter’s.
Biden, in contrast, has knowingly created a “Camp of the Saints” calamity at the border. Migrants are flooding into the U.S. at a rate of two million a year, throwing out all the gains of the Trump administration, while DHS Secretary Mayorkas has essentially ended enforcement of the hiring laws Carter first requested forty-five years ago.
Jimmy Carter’s immigration policy may have been disappointing, but Old Joe’s is a national suicide.
Carter didn’t have the Carter Administration to look back on as a warning.
As rough as things went for Mr. Carter, he at least had one ironclad defense: He was the first coming of Jimmy Carter, not the second. The problems facing his government were in many cases unprecedented. The energy crisis of the 1970s was the first time oil prices played such a dramatic role in the U.S. economy or foreign policy. The Islamic Revolution in Iran was the first such revolution in America’s long Middle East quagmire. 1970s stagflation was the first coming of stagflation, so novel that the major economic theories of the time couldn’t explain it.
Biden and his team have no such limitation. Biden need only reach into his own rapidly-decaying memories to remember what Carter did, and what happened to his presidency and his party. That Biden and his team continue forward as they do show the central difference between these two disastrous presidencies: The Carter Administration was struggling and failing to save an out-of-control airplane. The Biden Administration is flying the plane straight into the ground.