Quick White House reading: malaise, Bo

19 Jul

This summer has been a sad one for my stomach. Today is the second day I’ve had to take off of work because of its feelings. I hate missing work. But, then again, ouch.

This piece on the 30th anniversary of Carter’s malaise speech is worth a read. It’s by Hendrik Hertzberg, who, of course, was in the White House at the time.

A bit that my American presidency professor missed when he recounted the episode last year:

1. Carter himself never mentioned the word “malaise.” 2. The speech itself was an enormous popular success. It generated a record amount of positive mail to the White House, and Carter’s approval rating in the polls zoomed up by eleven points literally overnight. 3. The sudden political damage came not from the speech but from the Cabinet firings a few days later. 4. Although Carter has been flayed for blaming others, the first third of the speech is devoted to the most excoriating self-criticism ever heard from any American President. As these details suggest, the “malaise” episode has become encrusted in myth.


Almost as soon as we got back to Washington, it was announced that Carter would address the nation on July 5th. Actually, Carter had not agreed to deliver a speech, only to look at a draft and then decide. But the premature announcement put him in a corner.

These are excerpts from an essay in Hertzberg’s book, written years ago. Now, he adds some interesting bits on how a Broadway director’s coaching resulted in Carter’s best TV delivery. He finishes with the hope that Carter will tour Christian college, to show that “there’s more to Christianity than gay-bashing and an obsession with embryos as opposed to all other manifestations of human life.”

Watch the speech:

Also, Ben Greenman’s (also of TNY) New York Times op-ed submission made me laugh out loud. But it’s really a manifesto by this guy:

Bo, courtesy of the NYT Caucus blog

Bo, courtesy of the NYT Caucus blog

Greenman writes about the first 100 days of Bo’s administration. He does it brilliantly, because if Barack Obama were a dog, he would doubtless say things like:

My time in the White House thus far has had one driving theme: we all share the same world. There have been those who have criticized my willingness to sniff in an exploratory manner around hostile breeds from foreign lands. But remember, we are all one species, from the tiniest Chihuahua to the mightiest mastiff. I have tried to practice this openness closer to home as well, by spending more time with Joe Biden’s German shepherd puppy, despite our considerable difference in temperament and bite force.

Also, maybe I’m the latest one to come to this realization, but I am obsessed with the new Safari, which I just downloaded:

look at pretty shininess!

look at pretty shininess!


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