It used to be an unwritten rule that ex-Presidents refrained from criticizing current administrations. But Jimmy Carter couldn't keep quiet, prompting this backlash from Christopher Hitchens on Slate: "The latest absurdities to emerge from Jimmy Carter's big, smug mouth"
"Worst in history," as the great statesman from Georgia has to know, has been the title for which he has himself been actively contending since 1976. I once had quite an argument with the late Sen. Eugene McCarthy, who maintained adamantly that it had been right for him to vote for Ronald Reagan in 1980 for no other reason. "Mr. Carter," he said, "quite simply abdicated the whole responsibility of the presidency while in office. He left the nation at the mercy of its enemies at home and abroad. He was the worst president we ever had."Eugene McCarthy said that? And here Hitchens details how Carter's foreign policy action was worse than his inaction:
It was he who had created the conditions for the Gulf crisis in the first place - initially by fawning on the shah of Iran and then, when that option collapsed, by encouraging Saddam Hussein to invade Iran and by "tilting" American policy to his side. If I had done such a thing, I would take very good care to be modest when discussions of Middle Eastern crises came up. But here's the thing about self-righteous, born-again demagogues: Nothing they ever do, or did, can be attributed to anything but the very highest motives.Anything else?
It was because, whether in Afghanistan, Iran, or Iraq - still the source of so many of our woes - the Carter administration could not tell a friend from an enemy. His combination of naivete and cynicism - from open-mouthed shock at Leonid Brezhnev's occupation of Afghanistan to underhanded support for Saddam in his unsleeping campaign of megalomania - had terrible consequences that are with us still. It's hardly an exaggeration to say that every administration since has had to deal with the chaotic legacy of Carter's mind-boggling cowardice and incompetence.Damn. In retrospect, it was hardly a surprise that the Iranian hostages were released after 444 days in captivity. After all, a new President was coming in - a cowboy - and the Ayatollah had no way of knowing how America's new leadership would respond to this lingering international embarrassment. With Carter, there was no need for such concern.
Extra - From Bloomberg: "Carter Takes the Prize Among the Worst Presidents"