Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Worst president ever

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"

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Carter breaks an imaginary "unwritten rule," Bush violates the Constitution, and look who the rightwing pups are furious with. Surprise, surprise.

The first ex-President to criticize a sitting President was #2 John Adams, who assailed #3 Jefferson. But we had a good polite four years there, though, didn't we?

Christopher Hitchens:
It was he who had created the conditions for the Gulf crisis in the first place... 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... the... administration could not tell a friend from an enemy... It's hardly an exaggeration to say that every administration since [will have] to deal with the chaotic legacy of [his] mind-boggling cowardice and incompetence."

Hitchens is still talking about Carter here, right? Because it's really, really hard to tell.

Killer rabbit beats killer pretzel said...

"Apparently, Sunday mornings in Plains for former President Carter includes hurling reckless accusations at your fellow man," said Amber Wilkerson, Republican National Committee spokeswoman. She said it was hard to take Carter seriously because he also "challenged Ronald Reagan's strategy for the Cold War."

Reality check. Wilkerson is the same woman who said the Bush administration was "focused on offering real solutions" for a devastated New Orleans, who said she was "excited" about the momentum in the Lynn Swann campaign (he lost by 20%), and who made her bones in the GOP by enthusiastically promoting color-coded terror alerts and the wisdom of stocking up on duct tape.

And Amber Wilkerson actually put on some nice clothes and left her house, to say how hard it is for HER to take someone ELSE seriously.

"I think it's sad that President Carter's reckless personal criticism is out there," said [White House spokesman Tony] Fratto. "I think it's unfortunate. And I think he is proving to be increasingly irrelevant with these kinds of comments."

When Fratto's not claiming that the "economic surge" is stronger and deeper than that of the 1990s ("Clinton... would have loved to have seen the numbers that we have right now"), he is regularly sent out to talk up Alberto Gonzales' bright shining future. Clearly Fratto knows from irrelevant.

So why are the Bushie battledogs reacting so strongly against Carter?

Must be because what he said was just SO absurd and SO untrue and SO ignorable. And because Carter's SO marginal and discredited. Yeah, that works.