Friday, August 29

ECHOES OF CARTER

Sean Wilentz, Newsweek - There is a quotation that ought to give Democrats, and not just Democrats, pause: "This year will not be a year of politics as usual. It can be a year of inspiration and hope, and it will be a year of concern, of quiet and sober reassessment of our nation's character and purpose. It has already been a year when voters have confounded the experts. And I guarantee you that it will be the year when we give the government of this country back to the people of this country. There is a new mood in America. We have been shaken by a tragic war abroad and by scandals and broken promises at home. Our people are searching for new voices and new ideas and new leaders."

Delivered in Obama's exhortatory cadences, the words are uplifting. The trouble is, though they seem to fit, the passage is from Carter's acceptance speech at the Democratic convention in 1976.

The convergence is revealing. As Republican strategists have begun to notice with delight, Obama's liberal alternative to the post-Bush GOP to date has much in common with Carter's post-Watergate liberalism. Rejecting "politics as usual," attacking "Washington" as the problem, promising to heal the breaches and hurts caused by partisan political polarization, pledging to break the grip that lobbyists and special interests hold over the national government, wearing his Christian faith on his sleeve as a key to his mind, heart and soul - in all of these ways, Obama resembles Jimmy Carter more than he does any other Democratic president in living memory.

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