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Joe Biden’s Malaise Speech

Word from the White House this week was a warning that “there will be things that people can’t get” for Christmas this year. Every day it seems more and more as if we’ve slipped into the 1970s and Jimmy Carter is the president who doesn’t know what to do.

To be fair, it was an administration official, not President Joe Biden, who told Reuters that Americans can’t have nice things in 2021. But the statement’s overt negativity and helplessness evokes memories of Carter’s 1979 “malaise speech,” in which he spoke about the country’s “​​crisis of confidence” that “strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will.” 

“The speech was used to unify around a sense of civic sacrifice,” says Kevin Mattson, author of “What the Heck Are You Up To, Mr. President?”

Americans are willing to sacrifice when necessary. There’s been none greater than the U.S.’ commitment in the 1940s to turn back the belligerence of mad men who killed millions and threatened the world. But the threat of the early 2020s isn’t so much an Axis power as it is a president and party that are driving a country into a steep decline.

Consider our troubles that have piled up in recent months:

Energy crisis. Prices are increasing sharply and supplies are shrinking. Gasoline prices in the U.S. haven’t been this high since 2014, when another Democrat held the White House. Conditions are so bleak in Europe that some energy producers are resorting to using coal, a verboten source of energy under green rules.

The buckling global supply chain. This, of course, was the reason the White House official said Americans will have to do with less this Christmas. And we probably will. We’re already seeing empty shelves in stores we expect to be fully stocked, because they have been in the past. As long as Democrats hold political power, the country has to expect this to be our future, even if the supply chain is restored. That’s just the way socialist/statist systems (fail to) work. Shortages are outward signs of internal failures.

The president wants the public to think he has a plan. Instead, he showed just how ignorant he is about how an economy works, and confirmed has no idea how to resolve a commercial dilemma when he said Wednesday that “one of the reasons why I think it’s very important that we get the – the infrastructure plan passed – my infrastructure plan – and that’s the supply chain system is almost entirely in the hands of private business.”

Possible recession/economic uncertainty/stagflation. Bidenomics won’t build back better. Bidenomics means it’s unlikely we’ll be building back at all if Biden’s policies are followed. Inflation is rising and higher prices look more permanent than transitory. Meanwhile, the economic forecasts are more grim than they are upbeat. The New York Times, which did its part to elect Biden, is reporting about “a stock market malaise” – there’s that word again – “with the shadow of ’70s-style stagflation.”

“After coasting over the summer,” the Times continued, “markets are jittery over rising prices, growth snarls, and a number of other threats,” not the least of which, we should add, is the Democrats’ fixation to spend trillions in other people’s money.

Jobs. We called Biden a job slayer six days after he took office. Hard to believe, but conditions are even worse than we expected. The most recent jobs report was “ugly,” according to Barron’s. Only 194,000 jobs were added in September, far fewer than half of 500,000 forecast. The revised August report showed 366,000 jobs created, well off the mark of 720,000 economists had expected.

Border crisis. The country is rightly blaming the administration for the disaster unfolding on the southern border. Biden asked for it, now that he’s got it, and he has not a clue as how to turn away the tide.

While the energy and border crises, as well as the economic and supply-chain troubles are self-inflicted, Biden and the Democratic Party are not directly responsible for all the ills. But the American ruling class, which includes Democratic politicians, the establishment media, and its privileged private-sector patrons and clients, as well as their counterparts in other nations, were the most vocal and demanding cheerleaders of economic lockdowns that are the root of much of the damage. Vaccine mandates and passports, more favorites of the ruling class, are creating further harm.

Biden and his party are facing a set of problems that they have no answer for. So they respond they way Democrats always do when there’s trouble: Demand an increase in the size and scope of government. Then they chastise Americans as if they were children who want too much.

Apparently, this is what much of America wanted, a president working from the Jimmy Carter playbook.

— Written by the I&I Editorial Board

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The Issues and Insights Editorial Board has decades of experience in journalism, commentary and public policy.


  • Before the election, I told lots of people Biden was the second coming of Jimmy Carter. Just like everyone voted for Carter to punish Ford for pardoning Nixon, everyone voted for Biden to punish Trump for bad manners and rude tweets.

    Now that we’re stuck, did everybody learn something? Don’t be fooled again!

  • At this point, what could go wrong, Iranian Nukes, N. Korean Nukes, illegal immigrant flood, shortages of just about everything, gas prices zooming into new records, really what more could we mess up?

  • You can always tell the fool at the table , doubling down on a bad hand . Progressives are convinced that their allies in the media will bail them out of anything..

  • WHY is anyone surprised? We elected as POTUS a man who has never done anything other than be a US Senator–the most pompous and thoroughly unaccountable committee of 100 people ever assembled. Even there, his career was only notable by his prevarication, ambition and cluelessness.

  • Actually, it is a hostile enemy power (China). That plus all the stupidity so amply chronicled in this article.

  • The 50% plus the four or five million in NYC and LA who actually wanted this administration should get what they voted for. It’s a shame that the rest of us will have to get it—good and hard—as well.

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