Kevin Mattson's article "A Politics of National Sacrifice" from American Prospect discusses Jimmy Carter's "Crisis of Confidence" speech (known to conservatives as the "malaise" speech, which I discussed here and here):
You might have heard that the speech was a disaster. That it was all about Jimmy Carter, the "loser" president, shirking his responsibilities. [...] This interpretation is repeated countless times in history textbooks.
But in fact, the speech worked. It prompted an overwhelmingly favorable response. Carter received a whopping 11 percent rise in his poll numbers. The mail that poured into the White House testified that many citizens felt moved by the speech.
Mattson's book "'What the Heck Are You Up To, Mr. President?': Jimmy Carter, America's 'Malaise,' and the Speech that Should Have Changed the Country" will be out in June, and may finally give Carter his due for being all-too-right long before we were ready to listen.