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In Defense of Jimmy Carter

I'm not sure why I felt I needed to write this, but I do. Call it a limited sense of fair play maybe, or the desire not to kick a pathetic old man when he's finally realizing what a waste he made of his opportunities. Faint praise, isn't it? And sorry Jay, I know I'm stealing your idea again but I didn't think this should be just a comment in the other Carter post.

When Jimmy Carter was president, he started off with a lot of public support and, I think, some very good intentions. What he lacked, well, was common sense and the right priorities. I never saw him as a bad man, just out of his depth. I didn't vote for him, I turned 18 in 1978 but would not have voted for Carter anyway, I always thought Ford was the better choice of the two nominees, not that the Jerry was world class. But I disagree with folks who rank Carter at or near the worst of our presidents. No, he screwed up the job and he's not near the middle of the pack, but anyone familiar with Buchanan, Tyler, Andrew Johnson or Wilson would know better than to class Carter among the worst. He was naïve and stupid, careless and short-sighted, but for all of that he did want to do the right thing, mostly.

Take the federal budget, for example. One thing I will give Carter is that he was the last president to try to justify every line of the budget. That's right, Carter wanted every single expense explained and justified. No, he approved of some things that I think were wrong priorities, and for an ex-Navy man President Carter was amazingly dense about the needs of the military. But there is, at least, something to be said for a chief executive stopping life-long bureaucrats at the door and saying 'no, I won't take your word for it. Show your support and explain yourself'.

The other thing I will give Carter is the Delta Force raid. Yes, he screwed up that operation in a lot of ways, but then again, he trusted his military leaders to execute the plan, and they should have told him from the start whether the plan would or would not work as promised - Carter approved a specific plan on the promise that it would work. While there is a certain gamble in any special forces operation, the disaster at Desert One was not Carter's fault, and while I do believe there was a lot of political motivation, I will give Carter credit for the try.

As for his behavior since leaving office, well, Carter's an old man and not everyone can be graceful when they can't point to a lot of success in their life. I won't pretend he did a good job as president, but I will respect the man for his service in the Navy and give him some respect as a former president, even if he cannot manage the same for his part.


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Comments (34)

"I will respect the man for... (Below threshold)

"I will respect the man for his service in the Navy and give him some respect as a former president, even if he cannot manage the same for his part."

That, in a nutshell, has been 99.9999% of Carter's problem after leaving office. As for the rest, like Barry, he was in way over his head.

DJ,I respectfully ... (Below threshold)


I respectfully disagree with your analysis of Jimmy Carter.This man is a bitter old anti-semitic who is directly responsible for thousands of people dying because of his open support of numerous dictators. He has underminded every president since he left office and is lucky he wasn't brought up on charges. His gutting of the military was a direct cause of the military having sub-par equipment and training. Please go visit his carter library website and see who has donated to his project.

1976 was my first vote for ... (Below threshold)

1976 was my first vote for President of the United States. I voted for Gerald Ford. And Carter makes me look smarter every time he opens his festering gob. I wish he would stick to building substandard housing for poor people, otherwise known as Habitat for Humanity. Better yet, offer him self in exchange for the kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. I wouldn't even mind if they sawed the old bats head off....

Jimmy Carter - the man who ... (Below threshold)

Jimmy Carter - the man who made radical Islam possible and powerful.

I can explain his actions w... (Below threshold)

I can explain his actions with the budget very easily in two words: Hyman Rickover. Carter went through the Navy's nuclear reactor program and the big thing then and now is detail, detail, detail! You may have done something a thousand times but by God you will follow the proceedures as laid out in the manual.

Also explains why as president Carter wanted to be in charge of who used the White House tennis courts and when.

He would have made a great ... (Below threshold)

He would have made a great plantation owner.

When the first Iranian nuke... (Below threshold)

When the first Iranian nuke explodes, we should all remember Jimmy Carter.

Defense Secretary Robert Ga... (Below threshold)

Defense Secretary Robert Gates had some nice things to say about Carter, too:

Gates's 1996 book, "From the Shadows," is now being combed for insights into the new defense secretary's thinking, how he might run the Pentagon and what he's had to say about his past bosses.

When it comes to Carter, it isn't that Gates, a career Sovietologist who rose to become CIA director, is a closet dove. Rather, he thinks Carter was far tougher on Moscow than is generally recognized.

"I believe the Soviets saw a very different Jimmy Carter than did most Americans by 1980, different and more hostile and threatening," Gates writes. In both conventional weaponry and in the nuclear arena, he argues, Carter would "provide a strong foundation for Ronald Reagan to build upon." By contrast, Gates describes the first president for whom he worked, Richard Nixon, as "by far the most liberal" of the group. (Gates also shows a bit of dovish ankle, revealing that before leaving the CIA to work in the Nixon White House, he marched in a May 1970 antiwar demonstration.)

Most of all, writes Gates, who was the national intelligence officer for the Soviet Union at the time, Carter's emphasis on human rights cast a spotlight on the Soviets' greatest vulnerability. The rights theme, Gates says, made Carter "the first president during the Cold War to challenge publicly and consistently the legitimacy of Soviet rule at home." In his view, these were "the first steps" toward the beginning of the end of the Soviet Union.


914,But James Earl... (Below threshold)


But James Earl was a plantation master! You may be unfamiliar with the demographics, sociology, and economics of south Georgia peanut farming in the Carter era of the 1950's.

The Logan Act was made for the likes of Jimmah. He damaged every aspect of American life while in office. He even made lusting in your heart unappealing.

Then again, maybe "My name is Earl." says it all.

good post ...I sus... (Below threshold)

good post ...

I suspect that in 20 years when the discussion goes to worst Presidents Carter will not even be mentioned ... except as a distant second to Obama ...

he tired as best he could ... and I doubt he meant to harm anyone or the country ... I'm not sure about this Obama cat though ... he targets people, companies and groups for attacks and punishment ... and these attacks are not unintended consequenses but the actual goal of the policy ...

James Earl Carter, Jr. is a... (Below threshold)

James Earl Carter, Jr. is a bitter old anti-Semitic failure of a human being - and probably senile as hell to boot. He is attempting always to rewrite history in an effort to make himself look far better than he was. As to Habitat for Humanity, that was his highest and best achievement. I worked on some of those projects and we did good solid work! Nothing substandard about it.

Jimmy Carter's presidency was bad enough, but his behavior after the fact has been indefensible. Maybe God can forgive him, but I find it difficult. The convention always is that an ex-President eschews criticism of his successors and predecessors, and they return the favor. This motor-mouth-Carter never could manage to do.

I respect his Navy service, I respect his work on Habitat for Humanity. Everything else about him I find execrable and despicable. He should have been arrested and tried for sedition long ago! Miserable old coot.

And D.J. - you're far more ... (Below threshold)

And D.J. - you're far more kind to this old fart than he deserves

Dj, you make the "in over h... (Below threshold)
Jack Squatch:

Dj, you make the "in over his head" sound like a glowing accomplishment... he was terrible as president except for the fact that he de-regulated the beer industry that allowed all the micro-brew's I enjoy today. That is his only accomplishment as Pres. worth mentioning.

Meh, a pox upon his house f... (Below threshold)
Dread Pirate Roberts:

Meh, a pox upon his house for the blight he has cast upon our country.

The man has never met a communist dictator he wasn't best pals with and is an anti Semite in word and deed.

I lived through the Carter years I still remember them vividly as something I do not want to repeat for their abject misery and lack of prosperity. Just having a job doing anything was an accomplishment. I remember cutting firewood for a living one summer, roofing another in between semesters during the summer to earn enough to go back to school.

Obumbles hasn't reached the malaise level YET but give him a year or so and he'll be able to easily exceed the misery Carter, the Democrat House and Senate inflicted on the country back then.

Pardon?Jimmah's ri... (Below threshold)


Jimmah's right up there with Eric Holder.

I was still stupid enough i... (Below threshold)

I was still stupid enough in 1976 to vote for Carter. I watched as Carter bravely battled Soviet aggression by boycotting the Olympics and as he honorably battled the Iranian Hostage Crisis by not lighting the traditional White House Christmas tree.

And then came Ronald Reagan, and the world found out what an American President is supposed to be.

Disagree strongly DJ. He ha... (Below threshold)

Disagree strongly DJ. He had many, many failures and no real success. The country suffered poorly under Jimmah, as we are under Obama.

As someone touched on above, he did demonstrate to the Arab world that we were all talk and no action. Talk about encouraging radical Islam, thy name is Jimmah. ww

In my life, Jimmy and Obama... (Below threshold)
John S:

In my life, Jimmy and Obama have one thing in common. When Jimmy was president I was a young man cooking in a restaurant for $3.25. Thirty years later, I've lost my last career to India, and as a old man I'm again cooking in a restaurant making an inflation-adjusted 80 cents an hour (in 1977 dollars). When Jimmy was president, inflation peaked at 15 percent, I expect Obama will do beat that record.

Carter's idea of "Zero Base... (Below threshold)
Jim Addison:

Carter's idea of "Zero Base Budgeting" was a good one, but was never close to implementation as it would have required an act of Congress, the baseline procedure already being the law. No dice, as that would have impacted the already-bloated bureaucracy and existing pork programs.

He also had the good idea of "taxing all income only once" - in effect eliminating the tax on dividends - but that was also DOA in Congress.

But his place in history will not be one of honor. He deserted our strong ally, the Shah of Iran, and enabled the rise of radical islam. He allowed our defenses to deteriorate to the point that for the first time in history in 1979 the respected independent British military publication Jane's Review rated Soviet military might as #1 in the world overall.

I don't buy that his antics after leaving office can be in any way excused by age. He wasn't old when he left office, and he started his anti-Israel, anti-America international campaign long before he could blame senility.

And how about the claim that Ted Kennedy BLOCKED universal health care? What a liar! And conveniently, Kennedy can't rebut the filthy old man. Nice guy, all right . . .

"Carter approved a specific... (Below threshold)
Bill Johnson:

"Carter approved a specific plan on the promise that it would work."

Umm, two things - Carter fuducked up the plan presented to him, specifying less resources ( leading to inability to recover from the crash). He then asked if it could be done. Are you gonna tell the president no?

I can picture Jimmah at a d... (Below threshold)

I can picture Jimmah at a dogtrack...the folded racing form...fresh plucked boogers...a big old piss stain in the front of his trousers....

And how about the ... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:
And how about the claim that Ted Kennedy BLOCKED universal health care? What a liar! And conveniently, Kennedy can't rebut the filthy old man. Nice guy, all right

Of course Kennnedy BLOCKED it, the same way he blocked Nixon`s. I thought this was common knowledge. Carter and Kennedy were bitter political enemies!!

Here is the Boston Globe`s obituary to Ted Kennedy, August 26, 2009

The run for the White House. The election of 1976 would bring a Democrat back into the White House. Jimmy Carter of Georgia, however, was not a Kennedy Democrat. The ideological divide between the two was profound. Even though the Massachusetts senator had pursued some pro-business policies such as deregulating airlines, he believed in an active government that some would call intrusive; Carter tended to be more conservative. Senator Kennedy thought Carter's health care programs were timid. The president sometimes resented Senator Kennedy's celebrity status, especially when foreign leaders consulted with the senator.

The divisions only widened over Carter's first term. When the Democrats held a mid-term conference in Memphis in December 1978, it was dominated by the senator's nautical metaphor. "Sometimes a party must sail against the wind,'' he said. "We cannot afford to drift or lie at anchor. We cannot heed the call of those who say it is time to furl the sail.'' Carter's response to a group of Democratic congressmen: If Senator Kennedy did challenge him in the next election, "I'll whip his ass.''

On November 4, 1980, the Am... (Below threshold)
Ken Hahn:

On November 4, 1980, the American people decisively reject the economic and foreign policy failures of the Carter Administration. He has hated them and the country ever since. No since John Tyler was elected to the Confederate Congress has a former President so despised the nation that they had led.

Jimmy Carter is easily in five worst Presidents and he has no competition for the worst ex-president.

Hey...and Carter had "homeb... (Below threshold)

Hey...and Carter had "homebrewing" legalized during his term. That's about the only good thing I can think of that occurred on his watch.

For now, at least, I can buy all the ingredients, not pay any sales tax on it (considered a food item here in Texas), brew up to 100 gallons a year and then pay no alcohol tax either. Can't sell it, but that's ok, I give some of it away to good friends. I drink the rest trying to forget about all the crap leftists like Carter, Clinton, and Obama have done to this country.

At least, Carter knew bett... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

At least, Carter knew better than to sell thousands of antitank TOW and Hawk missles to the state of Iran under the control of Ayatollah Khomeni; in order to in ingratiate ourselvelves with Hezbollah who
held some American hostages in Lebanon.

Just more evidence that Jim... (Below threshold)
I think Carter meant well b... (Below threshold)

I think Carter meant well but that does not stop me from thinking that he may have been the worst President this country ever had.
His monetary policy was hugely responsible for
STAG-Flation. Theres a blast from the past. He was the first president I voted for, 'oh wait' I voted for Ford.
He did set Reagen up well.

Most of all, write... (Below threshold)
Most of all, writes Gates, who was the national intelligence officer for the Soviet Union at the time, Carter's emphasis on human rights cast a spotlight on the Soviets' greatest vulnerability.

Of course this is pure horseshit. Carter's foreign policy emphasis on "human rights" was an absolute disaster, by which he continually sucked up to third world commies and exasperate and anger our allies. It was in the name of "human rights" that Carter withdrew support from the Shah of Iran, thus enabling the current islamist regime into power. Thanks a lot, Jimmy, you incompetent cretin.

Mr Carter is, was and alway... (Below threshold)

Mr Carter is, was and always will be an envy-driven, evil, antisemitic, racist, fraud. Add to those characteristics that he is and always was a traitor, who never misses an opportunity to show his solidarity with our nation's every enemy, that he gave away our canal and incited, encouraged and facilitated the False fuhrer, Muhummud's, islamanazis' mass-murdering attacks upon our nation and upon the west in general and that he thus bears considerable direct responsibility for the attacks of the 1990s and must also own to his considerable share of the responsibility for the atrocities of September 11 2001.

Although presently being very seriously challenged, (and Almighty God knows he would not have long kept his title under the challenge of the dangerously dullard Messrs Gore or Kerry or Missus Cli'ton) Mr Carter leaves even the execrable W Wilson and F D Roosevelt way behind and is absolutely America's worst-ever president.

And is even more convincingly its worst ever ex-president.


Perhaps you should have not... (Below threshold)

Perhaps you should have not written this.

If this is what it took to ... (Below threshold)
rich K:

If this is what it took to break your writers block DJ then so be it.
Jimmy and DJ sittin in a tree,,,,,,,,,,,,Just kidding.

You give this arrogant, sel... (Below threshold)

You give this arrogant, self-serving, self absorbed, pathetic excuse for an American FAR too much credit. Sorry, but this guy does NOT even deserve "extra credit" for spelling his name correctly. Anyone remember his deliberate destrution of the Shah of Iran? This hater of Israel adored the Ayatollah, literally caused the downfall of the Shah and is therefore, more than any other individual, responsible for the IRAN we are currently dealing with!! It wasn't being "out of his depth" which caused this massive betrayal of the United States' best interests. If you deem it necessary to pity some old guy, there must be a million candidates FAR more worthy than Jimmuh.

Those of you talking about ... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

Those of you talking about Carter's "abandonment" of the Shah probably have no idea how there came to BE a Pahlavi sitting on the throne in the first place. Do some reading before you shoot your mouths off, scholars.

While it's unfortunate that the situation in Iran came to be as it is, the Shah was destined to fall. Perhaps if the Shah had not been installed (and re-installed, by Eisenhower and Dulles, in 1953), and propped up by the UK and US in the manner he was, it would not be so.

Certainly the Shah himself was a "staunch ally" of his masters - most puppets are. The Shah was universally hated among his subjects, both religious and secular. His rule wasn't going to last forever, no matter WHAT the US did or didn't do.

Uh, I am pretty sure if you... (Below threshold)
J. R. Ford:

Uh, I am pretty sure if you check history on that "Delta Raid" you will find that the military personnel involved recommended more boots and choppers but were overruled by the white house.

17% interest rates,
Panama canal,
Billy pissin' on the side of the road,
ad nauseum......






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