Friday, July 15, 2011

This day in history - July 15, 1979: Jimmy Carter does not use the word "malaise" in a speech

In one of the more interesting examples of an important political speech that did not contain the word most associated with it, President Jimmy Carter, on this day in 1979, gave his so-called "Crisis of Confidence" speech, which is more commonly known as the "malaise" speech, though that word is never used.

In the speech, Carter spoke of "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," which apparently suggested malaise to a lot of people.

A year and a half later Ronald Reagan was president. The moral of the story would appear to be: don't ever get all philosophical with the American people, and for god's sake don't try to tell them the truth about themselves. That's never a good idea.

Better to tell them what they want to hear instead of what they need to hear, if your goal is to win elections.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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