Posted by Michael Swickard on Monday, August 12, 2013
In his new book, Sagebrush Rebel: Reagan’s battle with environmental extremists and why it matters today, Pendley points to the similarities of the economic climate that both Reagan and Obama had to take on at the start of their presidencies—but their approach to addressing the problems have been very different, as have been the results.
The campaigning Senator Obama had it right. In a January 15, 2008, interview, Obama said: “I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America ... He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. …government had grown and grown but there wasn't much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating. I think he tapped into what people were already feeling. Which is we want clarity, we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing.”
In the same interview Obama said he shared personal similarities to Reagan. While he does like to compare himself to Reagan (just search: “Obama compares himself to Ronald Reagan”), the contrast on energy policy couldn't be more stark. Pendley explains that Reagan adhered to the “human exceptionalism paradigm”—which asserted that “human technological ingenuity can continually improve the human situation.” Coming before Reagan, Carter embraced an “environmental paradigm”—that placed environmental limits on growth. Carter’s America is the one about which Obama stated: “…we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing.” Yet, Obama has followed Carter’s direction, not Reagan’s and the results are Carter’s, not Reagan’s.Read full column