Malaise, then and now

Energy will be the immediate test of our ability to unite this Nation, and it can also be the standard around which we rally. On the battlefield of energy we can win for our Nation a new confidence, and we can seize control again of our common destiny.

I voted for Jimmy Carter, but I didn’t like him all that much. I didn’t like the God on his sleeve; I really didn’t like knowing he’d lusted after women, much less many women, in his heart (we weren’t used to hearing about lust in our leaders in those days, long before Clinton or heaven help us Governor Sanford); and even before everything unraveled for him, he seemed a bit wishy-washy and mealy-mouthed (and it didn’t help that he sounded like he had some of his peanut farm nuts in his mouth when he talked).

But this speech he gave, 30 years ago today, was actually quite good. It was later called the “malaise speech,” but his approval ratings went way up afterwards. Then, of course, all hell broke loose: he fired his whole cabinet two days later, and then there was that unfortunate business in Iran.

Jimmy Carter, in his cardigan that night. If only we had listened to him.

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