Author: Obama Just Like Jimmy Carter

Julian Zelizer says both men are smart and promised reform.

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Is Barack Obama really like Jimmy Carter? Julian Zelizer, author of the forthcoming Jimmy Carter, part of Henry Holt & Co.'s American Presidents series, thinks so. Both are smart, both promised reform, and both, he adds, "entered office at a time Republicans were in bad condition as a result of previous presidents ... and found it difficult to capitalize on this situation." Other similarities: "There was a sense, that became worse over time, that Carter was cold and distant, and not very personable," Zelizer told our Suzi Parker. Also, the right succeeded in demonizing Carter's successes. And Obama should heed this Carter lesson: "Being straight with voters and telling them the reality of a situation is fine, but voters also need to know how you will make things better."

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