For those of us old enough to remember, there are many similarities between late 2011 and late 1979.
In both cases, presidential failures put the United States on the brink of economic ruin. Then-President Carter presided over runaway inflation, high interest rates and high unemployment and caused long-term economic damage with the formation of the Departments of Energy and Education and passage of the Community Reinvestment Act, which was the root cause of recent housing and mortgage meltdowns.
Today we have President Obama, whose rigid ideological tie to Keynesian economics has exacerbated our unemployment problem and raised our national debt to an untenable $15 trillion. Like Mr. Carter, Mr. Obama will leave a legacy of problems, such as the Obamacare and Dodd-Frank legislation.
Both presidents' most significant foreign-policy failure was and is Iran. Mr. Carter failed to free the hostages, and Mr. Obama has done nothing to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
A year before their chance for re-election, each president had low approval ratings and no record of accomplishments and looked ripe for defeat. Yet here the similarities end.
Unlike Mr. Carter, Mr. Obama is a master politician, a highly skilled speechmaker and a charismatic campaigner. While in 1980, Mr. Carter continued his feeble effort at being president, Mr. Obama in 2011 already has abandoned his presidential duties in favor of entering full campaign mode.
While Mr. Carter had difficulty raising funds in 1980, Mr. Obama is expected to enter the presidential race with the largest war chest in history.
Again unlike Mr. Carter, Mr. Obama begins with 85 percent to 95 percent of the black vote and more than 60 percent of a much-larger-than-1980 Hispanic vote.
Perhaps the most significant difference between 1980 and now is that Republicans were able to put forth Ronald Reagan - and today, no such character exists.
Republicans need to refrain from overconfidence, focus on Mr. Obama's failure to lead and dismal performance in office and, most important, refrain from ideological purity and select the candidate most likely to defeat Mr. Obama.
Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
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