The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

The Very, Very Bad President

Posted on | May 15, 2011 | 34 Comments

It is nowadays said by many that Barack Obama is the worst president in American history. If this is so, President Obama will have eclipsed a mark that most observers believed would stand unchallenged until the final trumpet: The abysmal record of James Earl “Jimmy” Carter.

One of the reasons, I believe, that so many younger voters supported Obama in 2008 is that no one under 30 could remember how genuinely awful the Carter presidency was, nor could they recognize the similarities between the unbounded Hope inspired by the vague promises of the Democrats’ 2008 candidate and the tremendous expectations for national redemption that were invested in the 1976 Democratic candidate. The parallels and analogies, however, were readily apparent to those old enough to remember the Era of Malaise and, as soon as I got a detailed look at the Democrats’ economic agenda in December 2008, I declared bluntly: “It Won’t Work.”

More than two years later, with unemployment again on the rise — “Unexpectedly!” — and a “double-dip” housing recession now increasingly evident, I consider my prediction amply vindicated, and the only question remaining about the Obama presidency is, “How much more Carteresque will it become?” Frankly, I think our current president still has a good way to go before he can merit the claim of being worse than Jimmy Carter, and too many Americans have forgotten exactly how wretched Jimmy was.

Not content to have accumulated an embarrassingly bad record as president, Carter then went on to become America’s worst ex-president: Popping up in the media from time to time to criticize his Republican successors. (As a measure of the catastrophic damage Carter did to his own party’s reputation, the GOP controlled the White House for 20 of the 28 years after he left office.) No matter how many times he was laughed to scorn or ignored as irrelevant, Carter seemed to believe himself entitled to impose his transparently partisan opinions on a nation that wished he’d go away. Finally, in March 2007, Carter had the unmitigated gall to claim that President Bush was “the worst in history.”

This astonishing assertion was sufficent to inspire Investor’s Business Daily to publish a 10-part series on Jimmy Carter’s record, which began:

So Jimmy Carter calls the Bush administration “the worst in history.” This from the man who wrecked the world’s greatest economy and made a nuclear Iran and North Korea possible.
We didn’t think we’d see the day when a president-elect of France would be more appreciative of America’s role in the world than one of our own former presidents.
But here is Carter telling the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that President Bush’s “administration has been the worst in history,” one that has “endorsed the concept of pre-emptive war even when our own security is not directly threatened.”
Later, Carter called his comments “careless or misinterpreted.” But given a chance to retract, he didn’t. Apparently the man whose idea of leadership was to sit in front of a fireplace and blame everything on America’s “malaise” does not consider Islamofascists turning passenger jets into manned cruise missiles and flying them into skyscrapers a direct threat.
Nor does he consider himself responsible for the chain of events that gave us not only 9/11, but al-Qaida, the Taliban, Hezbollah and a nuclear Iran and North Korea. . . .

That IBD series came to my attention today because one of our longtime readers, Mike in Ardmore, contacted me to ask if I knew of any article that detailed Carter’s failures. Some research revealed that the series was still online via the Wayback Machine, which we are pleased to make available to our readers:

JIMMY CARTER: Profile in Incompetence

  • Part I: Look Who’s Talking — So Jimmy Carter calls the Bush administration “the worst in history.” This from the man who wrecked the world’s greatest economy and made a nuclear Iran and North Korea possible.
  • Part II: ‘Malaise’ Maestro — When it comes to economic performance, there’s no contest: Apart from the early years of the Depression, Jimmy Carter’s brief tenure as president was the worst in the 20th century.
  • Part III: Carter Planted Seeds Of Al-Qaida — After being told over and over by President Jimmy Carter that America’s ability to influence world events was “very limited,” the Soviet Union believed him and invaded Afghanistan. And al-Qaida was born.
  • Part IV:Iran: Carter’s Habitat For Inhumanity — In the name of human rights, Jimmy Carter gave rise to one of the worst rights violators in history — the Ayatollah Khomeini. And now Khomeini’s successor is preparing for nuclear war with Israel and the West.
  • Part V: Carter’s Red Carpet — On President Jimmy Carter’s watch, more territory was lost to tyranny than at any other time since Yalta. And he’d have us return to those thrilling days of yesteryear.
  • Part VI: A Feeble President — When men of strength are presented with difficult problems, their responses are firm and decisive. Jimmy Carter spent four years as president of the United States responding with weakness.
  • Part VII: Friend Of Dictators  — In foreign policy, Jimmy Carter proved his presidency the worst ever by subordinating U.S. interests to his vague “human rights” policy. All he did was enable dictators to take him to the cleaners.
  • Part VIII: Camp Hype — It’s often asserted that while Jimmy Carter’s presidency was marred by error and incompetence, the peace deal he brokered at Camp David was an unmitigated triumph. Time to pop that bubble, too.
  • Part IX: Carter’s Oil Crisis — Of all the errors Jimmy Carter committed, none has earned him more well-justified scorn than his handling of the 1970s energy crisis. True enough, he didn’t cause it. But he did make it much, much worse.
  • Part X: Carrying Over Carter’s Ineptitude — In 1976, Americans thought they were sending an outsider to the White House. Today, the same policies so thoroughly discredited by Jimmy Carter’s disastrous presidency define the Democratic Party.

So there you have it: The definitive chronicle of Jimmy Carter’s rotten presidential record. You may want to bookmark this page for future reference, just in case you encounter someone who doesn’t realize just how bad Carter really was. And the next time one of your conservative friends swears that Barack Obama is the worst president in history, you can send them this post and say, “Maybe he’s not the worst — yet.”

Of course, Obama’s still got another 20 months remaining in office, so he might hold the uncontested title soon enough.

UPDATE: Welcome, Instapundit readers!


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