July 15 - 1979 - Jimmy Carter Gives the "Crisis of Confidence" Speech
When Jimmy Carter addressed the nation in the middle of July 1979, he was ostensibly giving a speech on energy. He made his speech much more by reflecting deeply on the nation's mood. Carter was a surprise President, largely thrust forward on the back of Watergate and a promise of working harder on behalf of the American people. Upon being faced with an energy crisis stemming from the overthrow of the Shah of Iran, Carter dug deep and sought advice from all corners. So he addressed the nation and said he realized the issue was that America was in the throes of a "Crisis of Confidence." Although Carter was being remarkably honest and empathizing with the American people, he was also striking a remarkably pessimistic tone. It was probably necessary, but it made Carter's specific plans drier and more tough to enact. Initially, Carter's "Crisis of Confidence" speech improved his approval numbers. Then it would get tagged as the "malaise" speech, even though he never said that word in his address. It was this kind of problem that would help eventually lead to his defeat to Ronald Reagan in the 1980 Presidential Election.