• Share
  • Read Later

So now the one-week blitz was over—the most intensive effort by a U.S. President, in or out of wartime, to rally the nation behind a common cause. A stream of high Government officials sought out television interviews and speech appearances to continue the crusade. Politicians searched for the high ground from which to fight the months of battles that lay ahead. The Administration began releasing figures to show how much money it thinks the average American consumer would actually be saving —instead of losing—under the President's program. And Jimmy Carter had clearly achieved his first, vital goal: he had captured the public's attention and convinced a vast majority of Americans that the nation's energy shortage was genuine and steadily growing worse.

Not everyone was at all certain that, as the President claimed, a "national catastrophe" would ensue if nothing was done to check the spiraling U.S. dependence on imported oil and rapidly depleting gas and America's wasteful ways. But as TIME correspondents probed public reaction across the country to Carter's triple TV assault, only a few cynics were still insisting that the energy crisis was a nefarious conspiracy by Big Oil and Big Government to drive up the price of fuel and fleece the citizen. Across the political spectrum and through the many segments of U.S. society, Carter was being applauded for asking the nation to confront the painful truths about energy.

"There's no doubt we have a crisis upon us," declared James Thompson, the new Republican Governor of Illinois. "The President is to be congratulated for facing it." Agreed David Roderick, president of U.S. Steel: "He has laid it all on the line. Our industries, our jobs, our American way of life could be in jeopardy." After listening to Carter's Monday "sky is falling" speech, North Carolina's Democratic Governor James B. Hunt Jr. observed: "If anyone has any doubts of a crisis, they must be blind and deaf. That was the most carefully reasoned statement of an immense problem that I've ever heard."

That in no way meant the nation was united in believing that Carter's prescribed means of dealing with the problem is the only—or even the best—way. From ideologues on the Republican right came the charge that Carter's multifaceted program went too far. Insisted Martin

Anderson, a Hoover Institute researcher and former political adviser to Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan: "The Carter plan represents massive Government intervention in the energy economy. It will lead to more shortages and higher prices, more inflation and a depressed economy."

Aware that they could easily be used by Carter as foils in his drive to persuade the public to accept his program, most leaders of the oil and auto industries deliberately withheld their public fire—and ire. Said Frank Ikard, president of the American Petroleum Institute: "No segment of society is going to have everything its own way. But it would be tragic if strident divisiveness prevented the creation of a meaningful policy." Yet from Houston's Petroleum Club to Detroit's Athletic Club, leaders of the most affected industries were fuming.

  1. Previous Page
  2. 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. 4
  6. 5
  7. 6
  8. 7