Sunday, May 20, 2007

Jimmy Carter Knows Bad When He Sees It

Jimmy Carter, the only Democratic President after FDR to have two vetoes overridden by Congress, opened his mouth and inserted his foot deeply last week when he declared George W. Bush to be "the worst (President) in history." The moment I heard this comment, my first thought was, "If anyone would be an expert on lousy Presidents, it's Jimmy Carter. Here's a guy whose military budget couldn't even keep eight helicopters functioning in his failed rescue attempt on the hostages in Iran." The fact is that for all of his professing Christianity, Jimmy Carter is one of the meanest politicians that ever came down the pike. Let me put is this way: my grandfather, a yellow dog Democrat of the Depression era, had no use for Jimmy Carter, who was governor of Popeye's home state for four years. He only voted for Carter twice because he hated Nixon (and thus his successor), and he hated Reagan.

Jimmy Carter, quite frankly, was a joke of a President whose name invariably winds up in the bottom ten of every survey ever conducted of the historians. The only category in which he excels is providing moral leadership, hardly star quality in an era when his competitors covered up a break-in, sold arms to Iranian terrorists, and got impeached for perjury. Carter could have had an affair as President in full view of the country and his morality would rate ahead of those three competitors.

Carter, however, has long gotten away with the ruse. In 1970, he distributed leaflets of Georgia Governor Carl Sanders embracing a black athlete to the heavily lily white (and unenlightened) South Georgia populace, running as a covert segregationist while professing to deplore it. In 1976, he tried to blame Gerald Ford, who was stuck in a dead end job in the House of Representatives at the time, for Watergate. In 1980, he promised to 'whip' the 'ass' of Senator Ted Kennedy. That same year, he did everything but say that if Ronald Reagan was elected, a nuclear holocaust would result. The facts are that Carter is every bit the vicious and mean politician that he claims to abhor. And his latest blast shows a man clearly attempting a comeback to redeem his pathetic legacy as President.

Carter is lucky, of course, that very few Americans remember his Presidency. For those under 30, it made the Bush administration look like Camelot. In 1976, he ripped into President Ford for a 'misery index' of 12%. The misery index was a campaign gimmick achieved by adding unemployment to inflation. In 1980, Carter's misery index was three times as high as Ford's, a fact that must have brought glee to the 14% of the nation that didn't have a job. This led a prophetic Ronald Reagan to intone: "Recession is when your neighbor loses his job; Depression is when you lose yours; and recovery is when Jimmy Carter loses his."

Can anybody name a single thing the man did as President that was GOOD? Even Bush's arch critics have no choice but to praise him for the post-09/11 response (pre-Iraq). Bush also skillfully negotiated the release of hostages held by the Chinese in his first months as President and unlike Carter, they weren't held for 444 days. So what did Carter do?

He pardoned the criminals that avoided the Vietnam War - probably to inflate the voter rolls for the Democrats in the future. (It hardly helped as the Dems have lost 5 of 7 Presidential elections since then). He had a brother he couldn't disown and a mother who thought professional wrestling was real. He had a daughter who told him nuclear disarmament was the most important issue in the 1980 election, and he blamed the country for losing faith in his leadership. Finally, this pious advocate of the little man proposed doing away with the home mortgage deduction in the 1976 election but never proposed an alternative means of savings.

When it comes to lousy, Jimmy Carter retired the title a quarter of a century ago.

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