WASHINGTON — Former Vice President Walter Mondale told the New Yorker that he sees similarities between the Obama and Carter administrations — but while Carter was voted out after four years, Mondale sees a way for Obama to learn from history and win a second term.
Mondale, who was vice president at the time, saw first-hand a White House that could count some legislative successes but couldn’t find a way to solve a larger economic crisis. Much like this White House.
As the economy was ravaged by what was known as “stagflation,” he said, the public “just turned against us—same as with Obama.” He went on, “People think the President is the only one who can fix their problems. And, if he doesn’t produce solutions, I’m telling you—when a person loses a job, or can’t feed his family, or can’t keep his house, he is no longer rational. They become angry, they strike out—and that’s what we have now. If you’re President, they say, ‘Do something!’”
Mondale recalled that President Carter, as his standing in the polls slid, “began to lose confidence in his ability to move the public.” The President, he said, should have “got out front earlier with the bad news and addressed the people more.” He sees a similar problem with Obama: “I think he needs to get rid of those teleprompters, and connect. He’s smart as hell. He can do it. Look right into those cameras and tell people he’s hurting right along with them.” Carter, on the other hand, he said, might not have been able to. “At heart, he was an engineer,” Mondale said. “He wanted to sit down and come up with the right answers, and then explain it. He didn’t like to do a lot of emotional public speaking.”