Sean Scallon argues that Jimmy Carter’s 15 July 1979 address to the nation, known to political infamy as the “malaise speech,” showed an awareness of America’s limits that made it the most truly conservative public statement any president has made in recent decades. Nor does the speech deserve its reputation as a political disaster. Carter’s approval ratings went up after he delivered it, and only dropped when he engaged in the “political gimmick” of demanding that his whole cabinet resign. Carter didn’t really lose the public, the piece claims, until he responded to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan with an ultra-hawkish policy. His hard line contradicted all the wisdom and humility in the speech; coming on its heels, it seemed to spring from a fit of hysteria. The contradiction between Carter’s sober words of July and his sabre-rattling of a few weeks later left him intellectually defenseless when Ronald Reagan, a cheerful man unburdened by any public record suggesting cautious realism, presented the same hard line militarism as the centerpiece of his campaign to unseat Carter.
Fred Reed derides the USA’s bullying approach to Latin America, claiming that the reason so many of our neighbors to the south insist on seeing us as their enemies is that our government insists on treating them as our enemies. Matthew Yglesias looks at the Pentagon’s massive effort to create and deploy armies of robot soldiers in a piece facetiously titled “Killer Robots- What Could Go Wrong?” Oliver Marre reports on attempts to use Britain’s draconian libel laws to shut down political discourse in other countries, deploring these attempts but expressing skepticism about legislation currently before the US Senate designed to defend Americans against them.