The Carterization of President Obama?

Maybe I’m paranoid, but the douchebag who made the video that sparked the protests in Libya is hiding out from the media about an hour from my house, and I just read this article in The Independent, and it got me thinking that Republicans may be trying to “Carterize” President Obama:

“There’s a pretty compelling story that if you had a President Romney, you’d be in a different situation,” Romney adviser Richard Williamson told the Washington Post. “For the first time since Jimmy Carter, we’ve had an American ambassador assassinated.”

Moreover, the comments for the article from The Independent — and, indeed, the article itself — are telling:

The killings of the US ambassador to Libya and three of his staff were likely to have been the result of a serious and continuing security breach, The Independent can reveal.

American officials believe the attack was planned, but Chris Stevens had been back in the country only a short while and the details of his visit to Benghazi, where he and his staff died, were meant to be confidential.

The US administration is now facing a crisis in Libya. Sensitive documents have gone missing from the consulate in Benghazi and the supposedly secret location of the “safe house” in the city, where the staff had retreated, came under sustained mortar attack. Other such refuges across the country are no longer deemed “safe”.

Some of the missing papers from the consulate are said to list names of Libyans who are working with Americans, putting them potentially at risk from extremist groups, while some of the other documents are said to relate to oil contracts.

I think the narrative is going to go something like this: President Obama knew about the Libya attacks and did nothing because he’s a seekrit Muslim and something something death to whitey.

And now that I think about it, Christian Whiton, the former State Department senior adviser to George W. Bush whom I debated yesterday morning on HuffPost Live was pretty forceful about pushing the narrative of President Obama wrongfully claiming that the tides of war are receding, and that Obama is apologizing for terrorists and went on an apology tour in 2009. (I wrote about it here.)

At one point, Whiton said, “Wake up and smell the jihad.”

Odd, don’t you think?

Maybe it’s just me.

[cross-posted at ABLC]

63 replies
  1. 1

    They’re going to try, but I’d lay good money that it ain’t gunna work.

  2. 2
    Moeiz says:

    …and has been for years.

  3. 3
    ABL says:

    @Sarah, Proud and Tall: The answer to any questions that arise should be three words: My Pet Goat.

  4. 4
    Jerzy Russian says:

    I would take Jimmy Carter over any of the GOP clowns. He has done more good in life than all of us put together. He also had the best rant ever:,11356/

  5. 5
    ABL says:

    @Jerzy Russian: Oh for sure. I just meant in terms of electoral politics.

  6. 6
    Randy P says:

    You didn’t think they’d just sit back and hope the votes come out right, did you?

    The one thing they’re good at is thinking of dirty tricks.

  7. 7
    Dennis SGMM says:

    Maybe it’s just me.

    No, it isn’t just you. Conservatism is about to be failed again and conservatism is beyond desperate to keep that from happening. There is no depth to which it will not sink in the weeks leading up to the election. This is The White Man’s Last Stand and they’re saving that last bullet for America.

  8. 8
    piratedan says:

    it’s one thing to characterize Obama as being “too nice” or even “too naive” to be president, but when compared to the walking clusterfuck that is Mitt Romney… well good luck with that…. on one hand, with Reagan, you had someone with a national identity and if nothing else, knew how to act and appear confident…. if you wish to extrapolate those characteristics to the current Republican candidate, then it’s time to check and see if you’ve finally snapped the thread that allowed you to still have a tenuous grasp on reality.

  9. 9
    Baud says:

    @Sarah, Proud and Tall:

    Yeah, it will fail. If they were going to succeed in Carter-izing Obama, it would have been over the economy. Obviously, they don’t think that will work, so now they are just grasping at straws.

  10. 10
    Baud says:

    BTW, you have to be at least 45 to even remember what the Carter years were like. It’s an analogy made for the pundits, not for the voters.

  11. 11
  12. 12
    raven says:

    Carter wasn’t that bad, he was unlucky and the fuckers “on the ground” fucked up the rescue op. It succeeds and he wouldn’t have lost:

    “The plan called for a minimum of six helicopters; eight were sent in.[4] Two helicopters could not navigate through a very fine sand cloud (a haboob) which forced one helicopter to crash land and the other to return to the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN-68). Six helicopters reached the initial rendezvous point, Desert One, but one of them had damaged its hydraulic systems. The spares were on one of the two helicopters that had aborted. From the early planning stages, it had been determined that if fewer than six operational helicopters were available, then the mission would be automatically aborted, even though only four were absolutely necessary for the operation.[4] In a move still debated,[5] the commanders on the scene requested to abort the mission; Carter gave his approval.”

  13. 13
    amk says:

    One word – obamaisnotcarter.

  14. 14
    Soshy says:

    Check out Juan Cole … Obama Plays Hardball and Egypt’s Morsi Folds

  15. 15
    cckids says:

    @raven: Even though I was a junior in HS when this happened, reading Guests of the Ayatollah last year was hugely eye-opening. How misleading the press was, even back in the late 70’s! And, of course, how the Reagan myth machine has been building & burnishing the lies & mischaracterizations ever since.

  16. 16
    Ben Cisco says:

    Ease your mind.

    Yes, they’re going to try it, along with everything else their diseased reptilian brains can come up with up to and probably including Election Day.

    But it’s not going to work, and the fact that they tried and failed, again, is going to wound them even more.

  17. 17
    Dennis SGMM says:

    If a person actually does remember the Carter years then they remember that he presided over an oil embargo that was not crippling but, that annoyed the hell out of many. They might also remember that in an attempt to rescue those held hostage by the Iranians people died while attempting a night op.

    Reagan, OTOH, simply went beyond the bounds of normal conduct for any thinking person and offered Iran much-needed replacement parts for missile batteries bought when the Shah was in power.

  18. 18
    raven says:

    @cckids: Fuckin A right. It was always bullshit, these motherfuckers will do anything.

  19. 19
    Patricia Kayden says:

    But Obama is not Carter. Obama has no problem using the military/drones to kill terrorists — and very successfully so far.

    Sure the Righties are going to exploit the unrest in the Middle East for political purposes. What did you expect vultures to do? Romney has little to run on.

  20. 20
    amk says:

    The other cole

    Obama Plays Hardball and Egypt’s Morsi Folds

    So Obama was technically correct that Egypt is not an ally in the sense that Britain or even Turkey is. But unlike what some media outlets wrote, this statement was no gaffe. Rather, Obama was playing hardball with Morsi, trying to impress upon him that the status of ‘major non-NATO ally’ is not automatic now that the Muslim Brotherhood is in control. It will have to be re-earned, at least from Obama’s point of view. And the lack of response on the embassy attack is not consistent with ally status. Non-NATO ally status is bestowed by a stroke of the presidential pen, so Obama could take it away.

    Under Obama’s pressure, Morsi, in Brussels seeking European aid, finally explicitly condemned Tuesday’s attack on the US embassy in Egypt:

    “we don’t accept, condone, or approve at all for there to be attacks on embassies, consulates or people, or killing in any way.”

    “We want to cooperate with the entire world and we are cooperating now with the E.U. and the European people and with the American people and others and the U.S. administration to prevent such practices in the future. Also, we insist on the protection of persons, properties and embassies. The Egyptian people are very civilized and could not ever express their rejection of such practices with an attack on an embassy or person or consulate.”

    Some of Morsi’s sudden willingness to say all this was fueled by Obama’s pressure. In addition, Morsi revealed some of his other motives:

    “Muslims and Christians in Egypt are equal citizens and have the same rights… We are cautious about those principles and human values, also respecting visitors and respecting tourists… and respecting and protecting diplomatic delegations and private and public properties, and not attacking them.”

    That is, somebody told Morsi he had to say something if he wanted to keep the tourist trade, much less the American alliance!

    And yeah, fuck this cole’s blockquote shite.

  21. 21
    raven says:

    @Dennis SGMM: As you know, he also boycotted the Olympics. . .over the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

  22. 22
    Baud says:

    @Dennis SGMM:

    I’m thinking of reading up on the Carter years after the election. Every time I read history, I’m fascinated how different it really is from the conception of it we get from the media and popular folklore.

  23. 23
    low-tech cyclist says:

    Like the others have said, it isn’t like they haven’t been trying for years to Carterize Obama. If it were going to work, it would have already worked. But they’re desperate, so they’ll try again, for lack of any better ideas.

    Their only play at this point is to find some way to tear down Obama, since Romney’s revealed himself to be a lying shitstain. The problem is that the U.S. public has had 5 years to get to know Obama, and he’s got exactly the sort of character you’d like a President to have: intelligent, compassionate, yet calm, poised, unflappable. Carterization hasn’t a prayer of working.

  24. 24
    pluege says:

    the thing that no one should ever forget is that romney and the republican extremists taking over the republican party are ruthless liars. Any and all false narratives are “on the table”

  25. 25
    BillinGlendaleCA says:


    You are right, they are trying to carterize the President. They have been for almost 4 years. Don’t we have a “Black Jimmy Carter” tag here?

    HOWEVER, Dubya Mitt is not St. Ronald. I’m a CA native and remember gov. Reagan, he was a very good politician and was often underestimated by his opponents, Pat Brown. Dubya Mitt appearently micromanages everything, that was one of Carter’s problems.

    ETA: Watching Morning Ho, Scar is having a sad.

  26. 26
    pablo says:

    What Romney really wanted to say on Tuesday:

    If I were President in 2001, I would have prevented 9/11.

  27. 27
    pluege says:

    did I mention that romney and the republicans are filthy liars.

  28. 28
    Linda says:

    Duh, yeah, they’re going to do this, because their little inbred hive of shared non-ideas, unpolluted by outside contribution for years, tells them that Carter was just the WORST president in history. They tell each other this all the time, and so I’m sure it will be shocking that nobody else gives a damn about their meme, especially most young people who only have a faint notion of who Carter is. And the bitterness will compound when they come to the growing realization that they don’t control the narrative of news stories any more. Nothing (new) to see here.

  29. 29
    AnonPhenom says:

    Speaking of Carter, *adjusts tinfoil hat* in the vein of ‘guns for hostages’ brought to us by Reagan/Bush; being a corporate takeover specialist at Bain, Romney would be very familiar with the idea of structuring a ‘poison pill’ within a deal. Basically shitting the punch bowel so that nobody wins. I mean, the guy who made this ‘film’ is a recently convicted con man who just got told he had to make restitution of $800K. A ‘filmmaker’ who went into HIDING when this thing went sideways (what happended to ‘there is no such thing as BAD publicity’?)
    *breaks out extra large tinfoil hat*
    And that commando raid that killed 4 Americans, undercover of the demonstrations caused by the transparent provocateur PR campaign associated with this ‘film’? Who paid them?
    This might be the thing Rmoney wanted for his ‘etch a sketch reset’ of a failing presidential campaign. And what would it cost, at most? 5 or 6 million? A bargain.
    Certainly would explain the ‘ don’t fuck with me’ smirk we saw at the press conference.

    *removes foil hats*
    yeah, i’ll never be a fiction writer, but who says Rushbo gets to have all the fun and it would play well with that part of the 27% who still suspect that Mitt belongs to a cult of the crazies.

  30. 30
    amk says:

    @AnonPhenom: yours is more plausible than that fat fucker’s.

  31. 31
    Princess says:

    It’s only just striking you? The minute I heard about the protests in Egypt, I smelled rats copulating. Who funded Mr. Bassile? Who told the Libyans the ambassador would be in Benghazi?

  32. 32
    danielx says:

    Christian Whiton, the former State Department senior adviser to George W. Bush

    Stop right there.

    By definition, this person does not have a shred of credibility – nada, zip, zilch. Who gives a fiddler’s fuck about what she thinks about anything? If the Marquis is stupid enough to actually hire this person, that’s his problem.

  33. 33
    BretH says:

    “Carterize” Obama? Surely you jest…

  34. 34
    Cassidy says:

    @raven: To be fair, that was new territory for SOF.

  35. 35
    catclub says:

    1. Yglesias had a graph showing re-election fraction of vote versus
    economic performance. Carter had a hugely shrinking economy.
    Obama’s is very slowly expanding.

    2. The laser-like focus on the economy by Mitt is gone, gone, gone!
    (Not that that campaign could competently focus on any target! Shoot first and aim later, indeed.)

  36. 36
    GregB says:

    We know that Romney doesn’t want to reveal his tax returns because they will show he invested in an off Hollywood production called Innocence of Muhammed.

    Suck it El Rushbo.


  37. 37
    hueyplong says:

    We should welcome this pivot in the campaign dynamic.

    It used to be Obama vs. Mitt Romney.

    Now it’s Obama vs. John Bolton.

    Bolton may be the only political figure more toxic than Mitt Romney.

  38. 38
    Svensker says:

    Oh, they’re plugging away at the Obama=Carter thing. They have been for a long time but they figure the events in Libya give them the perfect context to make it stick. Unfortunately (for them) the situations are very different, so the analogy doesn’t work too well in the first place. But, more significantly, no one frigging remembers the Carter debacle except for a bunch of old guys. There just isn’t any cultural resonance any more. As usual, they’re framing for the Perry Como crowd.

  39. 39
    rikyrah says:

    My money’s on the Metrosexual BLACK Abe Lincoln

  40. 40
    Svensker says:


    No, no, we don’t “know”, we “wonder” and are “just putting it out there.”

  41. 41
    kc says:

    His name is “Whiton?” For real?

  42. 42
    chopper says:

    romney is going to drop Carter’s name about a hundred times in the debate just to be a prick. count on it.

  43. 43
    jeff says:


    You do realize that there are people even older than 45, yes?

  44. 44
    Hoodie says:

    In their fantasies they are Carterizing him. It’s a shopworn technique and will likely be ineffective under current conditions. Carter was not president after 10+ years of war in the ME, there are no hostages this time, the economy is expanding instead of contracting, we are in Afghanistan instead of the Russians, Obama has the bin Laden scalp, Romney is no Reagan, the Cold War is over, etc. A dead ambassador and some battered embassies is not going to lead to folks jumping on the Romney/Bolton warwagon. If anything, it will make people want to get the fuck out of the middle east even faster. All the Republicans got going is the ooga booga. That’ll give them a 40-44% floor. If Romney keeps stepping on his dick, it’ll become a ceiling.

  45. 45
    KXB says:

    It won’t work, for a number of reasons. One is time – in the 32 years since Reagan-Carter, millions of those voters have aged or died, and millions of new voters who were too young at the time have joined the voters rolls. Second – Obama is much better on the stump than Carter, who always looked tired and out of it. Third – Republicans really liked Reagan, but they only tolerate Romney. Fourth – a lot of Democrats liked Reagan too, but Democrats are devoted to Obama in a way they never were with Carter.

  46. 46
    hep kitty says:

    I just had to check and see but the Washington Times is all over it.

  47. 47
    hep kitty says:

    I just had to check and see but the Washington Times is all over it.

  48. 48

    There’s a “Welcome Back Carter” picture (with Obama’s face on it) going around on Facebook. And no, I don’t really get it, either. But the subset of RWNJ’s and low-info voters I went to high-school with have definitely changed their tone. Kind of a bitter resignation. It’s actually a little unsettling.

    Meanwhile, all the well-off white guys under 30 won’t STFU about ‘Obama the baby-killer’. Thanks a lot, ratfuckers. Sure, let’s scrap all the drones and go back to tossing tons of explosives out of the back of a plane, and hope we hit something strategic. That’ll fix everything.

    This country does not deserve this President. (Then again, it didn’t deserve a decent man like Carter, either).

  49. 49
    Cacti says:

    They’ve been trying and failing at this for 4 years.

    Not to mention, as others have pointed out, for the under-40 crowd, most know Jimmy Carter as the nice old guy who builds houses for poor people.

  50. 50
    Carl Nyberg says:

    I’m 44 and I remember Jimmy Carter being President, but I don’t remember it as someone who was looking for a job. I guess I remember the cost of candy bars going up from year to year and paying particular attention to gas prices on family trips.

    I really think a person would have to be at least 50 and probably older to have a sense that the Carter years were bad on a personal level.

    There are going to be a few people in their 40s that remember their families struggling. But compared to what came later, the 70s were still pretty good for lower middle income families.

    I guess the GOP plan is to go after older “White” voters and let the chips fall where they may with younger voters and Blacks and Latinos and single-women and non-Mormon religious minorities.

    But to make the case that Obama is weak on foreign policy… It seems like a narrative tailored to the 27%, not the majority of people who think Obama is better than Romney on foreign policy.

    Also, what Reagan was proposing seemed new in 1980. It wasn’t the Nixon or Eisenhower agenda. What Romney is proposing seems like, “Been there. Done that. Got the souvenir recession to remember it.”

  51. 51
    D. Mason says:

    At this point they don’t have much left besides bringing up the specter of (imaginary)Carter. They might have hoped for some gain after these attacks turned the focus to security but Romney himself shit that all away within the first few minutes by advertising his ignorance… again.

  52. 52
    Tone In DC says:

    @Dennis SGMM:

    No, it isn’t just you. Conservatism is about to be failed again and conservatism is beyond desperate to keep that from happening. There is no depth to which it will not sink in the weeks leading up to the election. This is The White Man’s Last Stand and they’re saving that last bullet for America.

    My non-cynical superego hopes you’re wrong. My id and/or ego figures you’re right.

  53. 53

    @Carl Nyberg:
    Also 44. Most people our age who were white and middle class seem to remember the 80s Reagan Era fondly, and want it back.

    My own experience was different. Reagan was elected less than 3 weeks before my 13th birthday, and (as I remember it) all of a sudden America just became One Big No. I kept hearing what we couldn’t do, instead of what we could. Half my family was unemployed by 1982. And as I went through college from 85-89, every autumn, fewer of my less well-off friends would come back.

    “Where’s Ryan?”

    “Dropped out. They killed his financial aid.”

    Wingers are trying so hard to make Romney the New Reagan, that it never occurs to them that many of us don’t consider that a complement.

  54. 54

    ABL, no you’re not paranoid. That’s the first thing I thought of. I did a blog post about it that explained my reasoning. There’s a link to the Tom Hartmann Youtube video discussing how Nixon and Reagan both basically manufactured crisis in order to win election. I hate to say it, but I wouldn’t put it past the Christianists/Neocon Alliance.

  55. 55
    Quaker in a Basement says:

    At one point, Whiton said, “Wake up and smell the jihad.”
    Odd, don’t you think?
    Maybe it’s just me.

    Might be. Do you smell like jihad?

  56. 56
    urizon says:

    If the information about Stevens and the safe house was classified, how did the these “insurgents” find out? Did someone leak it? If so, who had means, motive, and opportunity? This is where the investigation should focus. There were no marines, likely because it was so hush-hush. Either the bad guys got extremely lucky — and on the anniversary of 9/11 no less, something that seems to have been overlooked by many in the media — or someone told them where Stevens would be and that he didn’t have any protection. Romney’s gleefulness at that press conference made it seem like he was a kid on Christmas morning, like he’d just opened the biggest present under the tree. Who gave it to him? Did he expect this present because it was already on his Christmas list? You can tin-foil-hat me all you want, but I think this could very well have been a planned, false-flag operation designed to damage the administration.

  57. 57

    […] example, from a WaPo piece (h/t:  John Cole): “There’s a pretty compelling story that if you had a President Romney, you’d be […]

  58. 58
    Matt McIrvin says:

    It’s like I said elsewhere: Reagan vs. Carter 1980 is one of the great founding mythological events of the modern conservative movement. When they’re in trouble, naturally they’ll go back to it for comfort. When they lose, they’ll start talking about Goldwater in 1964 again.

    One thing people don’t always remember is how the Tehran hostage crisis played out. It wasn’t something that burst on the scene late in the campaign. It was endless, and the media harped on it endlessly. It was the environment in which everyone swam. It created Nightline with Ted Koppel. The effect on the national psyche was sort of as if the 9/11 attacks had somehow taken 444 days to gradually squeeze out over the course of a presidential election year.

    But it didn’t really ruin Carter, at least not in isolation. Carter was already in the doghouse, opinion-wise, when the thing first broke, and it initially gave him a crisis rally effect (much like 9/11, but starting from a much lower base) that brought him up to 58% job approval and lasted for months. Reagan and Bush didn’t even publicly go after him for the failed Desert One raid. As it dragged on and on and on and Carter still looked hapless, then it hurt him again. But he’d probably have stayed unpopular if it had never happened.

    Barack Obama has never been as unpopular as Jimmy Carter was on the day before the hostage crisis started.

  59. 59
    Matt McIrvin says:

    …And, by the way, a lot of that mythology about how Reagan came from behind and how Carter was more popular than Obama is the direct result of that crisis spike in popularity. Carter looked unnaturally strong at the beginning of 1980 for exactly the same reason that George W. Bush was riding high in 2002.

  60. 60

    An hour away? I’ve got you beat for eerily close to this cred.

    The business that got the film permits is located very close to me. I won’t say exactly how close (here on the internets I like to maintain a certain vagueness and keep my location pinpointed to the San Gabriel Valley). I will say that distance is measured in minutes, not hour (and hey, in the greater LA area, that’s saying something).

    I suggest that you check out the Pasadena Star News website where they’re doing local reporting on this. first, second article.

    Wonder if I should go over to that location and check out all the TeeVee news vans parked outside. BJ commentariat, should I?

  61. 61
    tone says:

    @Judas Escargot, Acerbic Prophet of the Mighty Potato God:
    Amen brother, growing up in the 70’s the future was bright.By graduation in the 80’s there were no jobs, no welfare, and it has been bleak ever since.

  62. 62
    Ken_L says:

    Three lines in one British tabloid citing unnamed ‘diplomatic sources’ … and now it’s received wisdom in the wingnut blogosphere that as a matter of proven known fact, Obama knew all about the attack on the Libyan consulate in advance and did nothing. Such is the fantasy world which they inhabit, and they are now so lacking in self-awareness they cannot even understand why outsiders find them lacking in basic rationality.

  63. 63
    Ken_L says:

    As for the Carter thing – it’s a kind of magical thinking: if only they can convince enough people that Obama is like Jimmy Carter, he will ACTUALLY BECOME JIMMY CARTER and inevitably go down to humiliating defeat. In the same superstitious way they are desperate to discredit polls that show Obama in the lead – with no capacity any more for rational thinking, they believe that somehow or other the polls will actually cause the election result. Cos liberal lamestream media!

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] example, from a WaPo piece (h/t:  John Cole): “There’s a pretty compelling story that if you had a President Romney, you’d be […]

Comments are closed.