Joe Biden’s presidency is tracking Jimmy Carter’s four years in the Oval Office so faithfully it must give his campaign team hives. Recent events in Israel create even more parallels. It was a Middle East crisis that brought down Jimmy Carter’s presidency; the current conflict in the region could prove Biden’s undoing as well.
In 1979, more than 50 U.S. citizens were taken hostage in Iran, and Carter failed to secure their release. Worse, a U.S. military mission sent to rescue the prisoners failed, infuriating Americans. Carter’s foreign policy blunders sank his reelection bid, but they were far from his only problem. His administration was considered weak and inept, and the events in Tehran reinforced those perceptions.
Like Biden, Carter was already in trouble when the hostage crisis occurred. The Georgia peanut farmer presided over sky-high inflation: so has Biden. Carter pushed enormous and controversial increases in government spending: ditto Biden. Like Biden, Carter started with high approval numbers that went pretty much straight downhill.
As he approached reelection in 1980, Carter faced a primary battle from fellow Democrat Senator Ted Kennedy; nearing next year’s presidential election, another Kennedy — Robert F. Kennedy Jr. – was until recently attempting to mount a primary challenge against Biden. History may not repeat but it sure does rhyme.
Today, 30 Americans have been murdered by Hamas and more than a dozen are being held captive. Voters will hold President Biden responsible for punishing the terrorists responsible for those deaths, and for bringing both American hostages and those trapped by war home safely.
So far, the Biden White House has not impressed. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan boasted eight days before Hamas’ invasion of Israel that, “The Middle East region is quieter today than it has been in two decades,” displaying either incredible ignorance or unjustifiable smugness. https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/national-security/jake-sullivan-defends-saying-middle-east-region-was-quieter-days-hamas-rcna120490
Elsewhere, it turns out that Robert Malley, Biden administration’s “special envoy” to Iran, who is known to have had close contacts with Hamas, was put on leave from his State Department post several months ago. Officially, he has been accused of mishandling classified documents, but there is speculation that he has long worked on behalf not of the U.S. but of Iranian interests.
Biden and his national security team have refused to accuse Iran for complicity in Hamas’ attack on Israel, claiming repeatedly there is no evidence of Tehran’s involvement. That is untrue. There is increasing proof that the planning for the attack went on for months, discussed by senior officials of both Hamas and Hezbollah meeting with leaders of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in Beirut.
Biden is understandably loathe to implicate Iran in Hamas’ atrocities. Confronting Tehran could escalate the hostilities in the region, and would also boost oil prices, which would inevitably hurt Biden’s approval ratings. Also, Biden’s White House, foolishly pursuing a nuclear pact, has enriched and emboldened the mullahs, in part by loosening enforcement of sanctions; voters will not look kindly on that decision.
Wisconsin Representative Scott Fitzgerald wrote recently in an op-ed, “Relaxing sanctions has allowed Iran to generate oil revenues exceeding $80 billion annually while strengthening its relationship with China. As I warned in April 2021, using China to dodge U.S. sanctions allows Iran to funnel money to its proxy forces in the Middle East, including the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps and Hamas, which is armed, funded, and led by the Iranian regime.”
At the same time, there has been a spike in the number of people on the terror watch list who have been apprehended at the uncontrolled southern border, through which millions of people have entered our country illegally since Biden took office. Fox News reports that four Iranians have been caught since October 1, heightening concerns.
Our State Department has been slow to help evacuate Americans from Israel, even as other countries have arranged to airlift their citizens to safety. In addition, recent news reports show U.S. citizens responding to our government’s advisory and arriving at the Egyptian border, only to find it blocked and being told to go home.
The Biden White House claims to be “surging additional military assistance” to our ally. Given that Biden goofed some months ago by admitting that the conflict in Ukraine has drained our stocks of munitions, it is not clear how much we can provide.
Hamas, on the other hand, appears to be well-equipped, thanks at least in part to mountains of weapons and ammunition abandoned by U.S. forces in their hasty exit from Afghanistan, which Joe Biden and his team continue to applaud as a “success.”
Meanwhile, while the world has been transfixed by the horrors taking place in Israel and Gaza, the president has carried on with his campaigning. Biden’s support for Israel may be unwavering, but his attention span is not. As Israel declared war, Biden and his wife hosted a barbeque for White House staffers; the next day the president spoke at a Rose Garden campaign event celebrating his efforts to cut down on “junk fees.”
The very next day, Biden traveled to Philadelphia to promote his green energy agenda. An agenda, we note, that includes curbing U.S. oil production and consequently driving prices higher, helping to fund Iran-backed groups like Hamas and Hezbollah. The president may have received word that his campaigning was not well received; he abruptly canceled a trip to Colorado on Monday to “instead hold meetings with his national security team as Israel’s war with Hamas appears set to escalate,” as one news outlet helpfully explained.
Jimmy Carter, faced with the hostage crisis, had the decency to suspend campaigning and focus his government on the plight of the captive Americans. One of his aides at the time, Stuart Eizenstat, wrote that the Carter’s so-called “Rose Garden strategy” “personalized the crisis in the American media by focusing the responsibility on the Oval Office and showing the terrorists they could put the American presidency itself into dysfunction.” Maybe that’s why Biden is choosing to keep up his campaigning, but his behavior is unseemly.
So far, voters back our support for Israel; if more American lives are lost, or the conflict spreads, they will not be so forgiving, and they will blame Joe Biden.