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THE COLUMN: Good-Bye to All That
Michael Walsh • 02 Oct, 2023 • 5 Min Read
Malaise on line one again, Mr. President.
Just in time for former president Jimmy Carter's 99th birthday -- only the good die young -- the United States is presently lost in a fog of malaise. Everybody hates the status quo but, like the weather until the arrival of full-throated but useless "climate" hysteria, nobody does anything about it.
The ongoing, post-electoral tussle between Donald Trump and Joe Biden has cast a pall over all our politics since the fall of 2020, and shows no signs of abating. That the Biden presidency has been a disaster is beyond dispute: the economy, booming under Trump, is in a shambles, race relations are poisonous, civil order in large parts of the country (mostly in big blue cities such as Chicago, Philadelphia and Seattle) has broken down, and the woke mind virus has infected whole swaths of the country, including the media, academe, and practically all of corporate America.
Thanks to the Covid hoax, "customer service" and indeed the concept of service itself has become a joke. Serious questions have been raised about the mNRA "vaccine," both concerning its effectiveness against the Wuhan flu (negligible) and its danger to the human body (considerable). Similarly, the man-made "climate change" hoax has driven a sizable portion of the populace insane with worry over a non-existent, indeed impossible, event.
And as far as the "Russian collusion" hoax is concerned, we now know that it was a) started by a vengeful loser, Hillary Clinton, b) was weaponized by a radicalized intelligence community that not only should have known better but in fact did know better, and c) was irresponsibly parroted by an Ivy-League dominated media establishment that has long since gleefully abandoned any pretense to objectivity and is now purely and unabashedly "progressively" partisan.
Carter's July 15, 1979 speech was widely ridiculed on both sides of the aisle, and immediately dubbed the "malaise" speech, although that word never appears in the half-hour address very effectively written by Hendrik Hertzberg. Personally, at the time I thought it was a good speech, and right on the money, even though I was never much of a Carter fan and eagerly voted for Ronald Reagan the following year. Today, 44 years later, it actually seems right on target, as Peggy Noonan noted in the Wall Street Journalback in February (link is free):
It was, in fact, a good speech—brave, original and pertinent to the moment. It failed because he was exactly the man who couldn’t give it, and he gave it at exactly the moment it couldn’t be heard. The backdrop was an air of crisis. Summer 1979: The oil crisis, inflation entering double digits, interest rates rising, unemployment too. There was widespread fear America had lost its economic mojo, perhaps forever.
He’d concluded America was suffering “a crisis of confidence,” and “all the legislation in the world” couldn’t resolve it. “We can see this crisis in the growing doubt about the meaning of our own lives and in the loss of a unity of purpose for our nation.” We used to be a confident country; we breathed it in the air. That confidence “supported everything else—public institutions and private enterprise, our own families, and the very Constitution of the United States.”
Watching in a radio studio as a young writer at CBS News, I thought: That is true. As I watched again this week I thought: That was prescient. Our worry is about hatred and polarization; he was describing the demoralization that preceded it.
And here we are. Despite the polls, which at this point only offer a choice between two superannuated, erratic geriatrics, the voting public understands that neither Trump nor Biden is the way forward. Both are running in large part on resentment of the other, and of the nearly -- nearly -- 50 percent of Americans who, at the moment, support them. But there is a near-zero chance that either man will be on the ballot in November of 2024 when the only poll that matters takes place. (Ask Hillary Clinton if she disagrees.) Biden is visibly crumbling before everybody's eyes, while Trump's King Lear imitation on his vanity social-media platform, Truth Social, has become a national embarrassment.
Further, the increasingly surly Biden's performance in office is the best argument against returning him to power, while Trump's disgraceful final year in office, which includes both turning the country over to the sinister Tony Fauci and summoning the demons of January 6 to challenge an election even his closet advisers later admitted under oath they knew was lost, disqualifies him from another turn in the Oval Office.
Time to change the channel.
But, as they used to say in Vietnam, embrace the suck. With neither octogenarian (Trump would be 82 at the close of a hypothetical second term) in the race, the way would be clear for a long-overdue changing of the Boomer and even pre-Boomer guard that has long dominated U.S. politics. A Trump- and Biden-free election opens up vast new vistas for a rapidly changing country, allowing frank if not always friendly discussion about today's particularly thorny problems, including the untrammeled invasion across the southern border, the rolling back of Critical Theory and all its unholy spawns, and returning the libertine genie of "non-binary" sexuality to its bottle and burying it at the bottom of the Marianas Trench.
The removal of Trump and Biden from the lists would also immediately make clear the stark distinctions between the parties, unencumbered by their outsized, media-fueled personalities. On the left, the death of modern Liberalism, which began with the McGovern campaign of 1972, would be laid bare, and the "woke" minority exposed for the malignant civilization-killers they are. On the right, the post-presidential poison of Trumpism would dissipate into the atmosphere, to be replaced by a fair contest among Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley, Mike Pence (representing some form of Trumpism minus Trump), and perhaps even Glenn Youngkin, currently lurking in plain sight.
Meanwhile, eco-nut Kennedy scion Bobby, Jr., -- having been forced out by the Stalinists in what remains of his father and uncle's party -- is likely to announce an independent candidacy, in large part based on his opposition to the "Covid vaccine" and his sharp criticism of Vladimir Zelensky and of U.S. involvement in the Ukraine, which he correctly views as an American proxy war against Russia.
Kennedy could hold the outcome of the '24 election in his hands, especially if he pairs up with someone like Tulsi Gabbard, who really should be on the short list for the GOP's veep nomination. "I'm seeing Americans live at a level of desperation, of depression, that I never thought I'd see in this country," Kennedy said at a recent appearance in Iowa. Shades of Jimmy Carter and the phenomenon of Strange New Respect that comes with age:
So imagine a world without Biden or Trump; it's easy if you try. Now go out there and make it happen. As Napoleon famously said (or maybe didn't, it doesn't really matter): On s'engage partout, et puis l'on voit. You could look it up.
Michael Walsh is a journalist, author, and screenwriter. He was for 16 years the music critic and a foreign correspondent for Time Magazine. His works include the novels As Time Goes By, And All the Saints, and the bestselling “Devlin” series of NSA thrillers; as well as the nonfiction bestseller, The Devil’s Pleasure Palace and its sequel, The Fiery Angel. Last Stands, a study of military history from the Greeks to the present, was published by St. Martin's Press in December 2019. He is also the editor of Against the Great Reset: 18 Theses Contra the New World Order, published on Oct. 18, 2022. Follow him on Twitter: @theAmanuensis