(Continued from "Change Is All You Need") The Obama Years
To be fair, Jimmy Carter inherited a country that needed a lot of work.
Lyndon Johnson's Great Society programs, built on Roosevelt's economically untenable New Deal welfare state, had set the nation's economy and social classes on a path to destruction a decade earlier. The self-absorption of the Baby Boomers decayed the social institutions and mores that sustained us for 200 years. The Greatest Generation (a term yet to be coined) were entering the pre-retirement years, and their kids were none too interested in hard work--at least, not yet. The Arab oil embargo and subsequent OPEC controls had driven up the price of oil and, along with it, everything that depends on petroleum.
Perhaps most challenging for Carter was the unprecented lack of confidence in America's institutions. After the Bay of Pigs, Vietnam, idiotic conspiracy theories on the assassinations of John and Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, and the hideous Watergate debacle, the people began to believe that the ship of state had grown too large for safe navigation in the compressed shipping lanes of the twentieth century.
Liberal media fed the popular suspicion of institutions. The networks, major daily papers, and the news magazines held a tight right on information in the days before the internet. Bill Moyers' and Walter Cronkite's leftist opinions, dressed up prettily as objective reporting, went unchallenged. "Our best days are behind" became the unspoken thought of my dad's World War II generation. Aloud they said, shaking their heads, "What the hell's happened to this country?"
Jimmy Carter took command of a demoralized and thinning military. He made matters worse. Cuts and changes to military budgets, the increased wearing of civilian clothing even while on duty in the Pentagon, and relaxation of traditions drove would-be careerists out of the service. (Twenty years later, I personally ended my 9 year Navy career because I could not serve the Commander in Chief. I know the feeling.)
The next President will inherit a country with problems. The home mortgage meltdown will affect the general economy for two more years, even if home prices begin rise and lending policies loosen. Look back to the Savings & Loan crisis of the early 1990s for guidance.
Making matters worse this time around is the price of oil. While oil and gasoline failed to keep up with inflation for years, the recent jump, combined with poor handling by business, will suppress economic growth until late 2009 or early 2010. Companies and consumers, alike, expected the price of oil to return quickly to $30/bbl. As such, margins shrunk during a time when they should have grown. Expect inflation.
Moreover, the leftists, like Obama, have a significant number of Americans loathing the military, just as Bill Clinton does. Assuming he's telling the truth when he tells us that his first act as President would be the immediate evacuation of Iraq, he's in for four miserable years trying to work with the Pentagon.
Military folks don't like surrender, and the American people won't like the aftermath they see on television. A precipitous withdrawal of American forces from Iraq will almost demand a flood of terrorists into the country, along with a return of Ba'athists from Syria. The civil war will be brutal and long. If Iran is smart, it will intervene late under the guise of humanitarianism. We know the UN won't lift a finger. Iraq veterans will hate Hate HATE Barack Obama. Hate.
More tomorrow night.