Thirty years ago, on July 15, 1979, President Jimmy Carter went on national television to give a jolting speech. Billed as an address about the "energy crisis" — the recent cutoff of Iranian fuel that generated long and angry gas lines at home — it wound up lashing out at the American way of life. Carter decried Americans' "self-indulgence and consumption" as well as their "fragmentation and self-interest." This was a "crisis that strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will," he asserted.
Kevin Mattson, Connor Study Professor of Contemporary History at Ohio University, is the 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." He is also a writer for the History News Service.