Streetwise Professor

October 25, 2010

Uhm, That’s Not How I Remember It

Filed under: Politics — The Professor @ 9:59 pm

Jimmy Carter has a, shall we say, revisionist view of history:

America is no better off now than it was in the late 1970s and early 1980s, says former President Jimmy Carter. From national politics to relationships with other nations, there is a lot of room for improvement.

“We had almost complete harmony with every nation on Earth,” the Nobel Peace Prize winner said of his administration. “We not only preserved peace for our country, we never went to war. We never dropped a bomb. We never fired a missile.”

Jimmy.  Dude.  “Complete harmony with every nation on earth”?  Seriously?  I think you confused your administration with a Coke commercial that was old when you took office.  We were in “complete harmony” with, say, Iran?  (Yeah, that whole hostage thing, and Desert One, just makes me so nostalgic for those days when we were all living life as described by The Seekers.)  The USSR?  I know you and Brezhnev got it on, but then he did that whole Afghanistan thing:

Yes, the US wasn’t in any hot wars at the time, but the ’70s was a pretty brutal, violent period. American fecklessness contributed to an upsurge of violence and yes, war, in Asia, Latin America, and Africa.

Jimmy’s delusions also extend to domestic policy:

While the above issues may be similar, today’s American political scene is vastly different. Carter says he had wonderful bipartisan cooperation, with Democrats and Republicans in both the House and the Senate supporting him.

The Republicans were pretty well neutered then, but didn’t support him.  The funny thing is that not too long into his administration, the Dems didn’t support him either.  Tip O’Neill was often contemptuous.  And Teddy Kennedy ran in the primaries against Carter.

Here’s a choice quote that combines cluelessness on both domestic and foreign policy:

“And I would say, in general, maybe not exactly now when there’s such a negative attitude, but in general, the American people wanted me as president to be successful. Because when I was successful in dealing with jobs and when I was dealing with international affairs and peace and human rights and energy and that sort of thing, then America (was successful).”

I’m sure it would have been true that if Carter had been successful in “in dealing with jobs and when I was dealing with international affairs and peace and human rights and energy and that sort of thing” then (a) Americans would have supported him, and (b) America would have been successful.  The problem is that if those things happened, they happened in some parallel universe, not the one I or any other living soul inhabited.  Jobs–hardly.  (Interesting he doesn’t mention inflation.)  International affairs?  That was the nadir of American power and influence.  Energy?  xike,cip;aci,a#@xk.  Sorry, I couldn’t type through the guffaws.

It’s actually kind of sad that even after all these years, Carter hasn’t been able to come to terms with the history of his administration, and its legacy. I’m sure he would be able to come up with at least a plausible defense of what he did and the decisions he made during challenging times. But to peddle fantasies is just pathetic.

PS. Ironically, Carter is the only President whose hand I have shook. I did so after the Navy-Georgia Tech football game in Annapolis in December ’78. Very wimpy grip, BTW: overall, I was struck by his lack of physical presence. My other USNA connection with Carter was that I was evicted from my room on 8-3 (i.e. the 4th floor) of Bancroft Hall at Navy during Graduation Week (I think it was still June Week that year–the last time graduation was in June) 1978 so that snipers could hole up there: he spoke at the graduation, and his helo landed in the field below my wing of Bancroft, hence the snipers. (My other graduation memory: I was sitting close to where ABC’s Sam Donaldson was doing a standup before the speech. Donaldson and a few of us Mids exchanged insults.)

That Navy-GA Tech game was my closest encounter with a President until last Saturday. I was at the Post Oak Grill in Houston, and who should come in but George H. W. Bush and Barbara Bush. They sat at the table directly next to the one where my family and I were sitting. My daughter Renee is a student at the Bush School at Texas A&M, and President Bush has spoken in some of her classes, and she has seen him in the hallways of the Bush Library (where he has an apartment). So Renee felt a connection, and introduced herself. Needless to say, President Bush and Mrs. Bush were extremely gracious, telling Renee to make sure that she speak to them if she saw them on campus. Renee actually sees Mrs. Bush with some regularity, while the former First Lady walks her dogs around the pond next to the Library. Not like they’re on Babs-NeeNee terms or anything:)

And to pull all this Carter-Bush stuff together, Carter would deserve far more respect if he had conducted himself in the years succeeding his presidency more like GHWB did in the years following his. GHWB didn’t slag his successors as Carter did with some regularity, or engage in the grandstanding and revisionism that Carter has.

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  1. For evidence in support of your characterization, go to

    Comment by DrD — October 26, 2010 @ 12:59 pm

  2. Old joke… Brezhnev stares teary-eyed at an airliner taking off. “Terrible statesman, but what a kisser!”

    Comment by So? — October 27, 2010 @ 1:29 am

  3. George H.W. Bush will always receive a lot of points in my book for how he handled the breakup of the USSR, and built on the trust between Reagan and Gorbachev. Historians can still debate whether or not there was any ‘deal’ with respect to NATO’s eastward expansion that Washington reneged on, but regardless he will go down in history as one of the better Presidents, particularly compared to his successors and predecessors Nixon, Ford and Carter.

    Comment by Mr. X — October 27, 2010 @ 10:02 am

  4. I have read a lot of sources that on a personal level, Dubya Bush is an exceptionally decent fellow.

    Comment by Tim Newman — October 27, 2010 @ 3:14 pm

  5. Concur. And yet he was a one-term president, unlike his mental giant son.

    Comment by So? — October 27, 2010 @ 5:52 pm

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