Saturday, June 4, 2011
What the heck Are you Up to Mr. President?/Jimmy Carter, Jimmy Carter
What the Heck are You Up to Mr. President? by Kevin Mattson, is a short but informative book that showcases the background, delivery, and ultimately disastrous after-effects of Jimmy Carter's 'Malaise' speech.
For those too young to remember (and that would include me) the 'Malaise' speech - it never actually uses the word - was a public scolding Carter delivered to the American people, encouraging us to re-examine our energy policy and habits and refocus both for our betterment. It was met with initial praise, but soon became a symbol of the pessimism and defeatism of the Carter era.
The book details why the speech went wrong. It was designed to address the energy crisis that gripped America, and yet Carter dragged his feet so long that the crisis was waning by the time he pulled the trigger. Combine that with the ill-fitting mix of a somber, pragmatic President urging a weary people to essentially 'suck it up', and it was not a recipe for success. Rumor is Reagan knew he had the Oval Office when he heard the speech.
Keep in mind, Mattson isn't anti-Carter. It's his position that Carter was right, and the speech *should* have altered American behavior and (by default) history.
I enjoyed the book a lot.
Did I mention he was pro-Carter? Contrast that to Jimmy Carter Jimmy Carter by Gary Allen.
I picked up this gem for free at a local rec center, and in fairness, it isn't just anti-Carter. It's anti-Democrat, anti-Republican, and most shocking, anti-Martin Luther King (these days, with his sainthood all but assured in American consciousness, attacking MLK seems horrifyingly racist. I'm not sure that was the author's intent, but I'm not sure it wasn't).
It was written prior to the 1976 election, presumably as a means of torpedoing his candidacy. It didn't work, and neither does the book. Then again, it wasn't a horrible read, especially if you're looking for a glimpse of the political mindset as we approached the Bicentennial.
(both books read August 2009)