In this age of political polarization, conservative thinkers (particularly those who work for the National Review) like to keep a handful Barack Obama-is-like-Jimmy Carter anecdotes at the ready, lest they encounter an audience unfamiliar with the unnerving similarities between SALT II and START II. If this week's Weekly Standard is to be believed, the right has been going about this all wrong. The Obama administration isn't Carter's second term. It's Michael Dukakis's first, non-existent term. Noemie Emery explains why the Dukakis comparison is a better fit:
Of course, no one thought Dukakis could be the messiah, but in other ways the connections are strong: both creatures of the liberal Northeast and of Harvard, with no sense at all of most of the rest of the country; both rationalists who impose legalistic criteria on emotion-rich subjects; both with fixed ideas of who society's victims are, which do not accord with the views of the public; and both with a tin ear for the culture and a genius for creating wedge issues that split their own party. Obama has the Carter naïveté in foreign affairs--treating allies like foes, and vice versa--but it is the Dukakis campaign that provides the better parallel.
Obama comes from the same cultural niche as Dukakis and operates from the same point of view: that the death penalty is wrong and the benefit of the doubt goes to the accused in most situations; that in a confrontation with a black man, a white cop will act "stupidly"; that patriotic displays are déclassé; that Muslims are an imperiled minority and must be indulged at all costs.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.