Thirty years later: Was Jimmy Carter's "malaise" speech right?

What few recall is the speech’s actual content — which still resonates strongly in the current economic crisis— or the fact that it was actually well-received by the public at the time.

“It was an incredibly successful speech, until he fired the Cabinet, which changed the whole tenor of things,” said Patrick Caddell, who was the president’s pollster and a chief architect of the speech.

“It got a great reception. I’ve never felt more that American political journalism bordered on Soviet history-making than on that speech,” he said. “From the misnaming of it, to the trying to say later that it was unpopular — the historical revisionism. The speech itself was an extraordinary success.”

Kevin Mattson, author of “‘What the Heck Are You Up To, Mr. President?’: Jimmy Carter, America’s ‘Malaise,’ and the Speech That Should Have Changed the Country,” agrees.

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