Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 3, 2011

EXORCISING PARTY DEMONS.... I tend to think much of the mockery Jimmy Carter receives is gratuitous. He wasn't an especially good president, but the ridicule he receives, even now, decades later, often seems unnecessary.

That said, Carter remains a symbol of a "failed Democratic president," and Dems bristle at any comparisons to him. With that in mind, reader J.T. emailed last night with an interesting point I hadn't thought of. Noting the work that went into the mission in Abbottabad, J.T. noted, "The whole scene to me was eerily similar to Pres. Carter's failed attempt to rescue the hostages in Iran."

J.T. added, "In both cases it was a high-risk, high-reward gamble. In both cases mechanical failure disabled a helicopter at a crucial moment in the mission. And in both cases there were serious political as well as national security consequences. The major difference is Carter's gamble failed where Obama succeeded. And the impact on the national psyche in both cases has been dramatic, in opposite directions."

William J. Dobson has a good piece in The New Republic today, emphasizing a very similar point.

[T]here is another reason why this event is hugely important for the foreign policy of this president: A Democratic president opted against ridding the world of its most wanted terrorist by lobbing a missile from 30,000 feet above. He sent helicopters in on a daring raid with a clear mission and plan for exit. In one fell swoop, President Obama has done more to exorcise the demons of Democratic foreign policy error and mishap than anyone in the last three decades. This was not Operation Eagle Claw over Iran. This was not the bombing of a pharmaceutical factory in Sudan. This was not another Black Hawk Down.

After the first year of his presidency, it was popular to call Obama the new Jimmy Carter.... [H]ad Sunday's mission gone horribly wrong, "Carter" would have tripped off the lips of every pundit. That would have been an obvious political risk to anyone in the room when the president scrapped the idea of a surgical missile strike in favor of an assault led by Navy SEALS.

The mission could have gone wrong, but it didn't. It was judiciously planned. Obama's helicopters flew straight, and, when they encountered unexpected adversity -- one of the helicopters engines stalled -- they had a contingency plan to see the mission through successfully. The desire of a president to move decisively, combined with the patience to see to the details: Who is going to call Obama the aloof, contemplative professor now? The comparison to Carter died in Pakistan along with bin Laden.

I'd argue the Carter comparison was always rather ridiculous, and was put to rest when President Obama racked up huge legislative wins over his first two years. But if we're looking for political bookends, with Eagle Claw on one end and the killing of bin Laden on the other, that works for me.

Steve Benen 12:35 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (46)

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It's also worth remembering that when the military succeeds, they shower themselves with glory. When they fail, it's some politician's fault.

Posted by: Wally on May 3, 2011 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

Carter was President at the end of our long Vietnam debacle, and the military was in disarray and disrepute. The Israelis were looked upon as the Can Do commandos (Entebbe). Carter would have had a second term, but for a sandstorm and the lack of triple redundancy.

An interesting note on the SEAL team that got bin Laden: The average age of the men was 38 years. They had the Right Stuff!

Posted by: DAY on May 3, 2011 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

Cool Hand Luke and Clint Eastwood rolled into one . Do you feel lucky terrorist ? Do You? With the intel obtained by the raid instead of blowing a hole in the earth ... you can run but you can't hide.

Posted by: John R on May 3, 2011 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

JSOC was established in 1980 [Carter admin] on recommendation of Col. Charlie Beckwith, in the aftermath of the failure of Operation Eagle Claw.[1] It is located at Pope Army Air Field and Fort Bragg in North Carolina, USA. JSOC is credited with coordination of Operation Geronimo that resulted in the death of Osama Bin Laden on May 1, 2011 near Islamabad
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joint_Special_Operations_Command

Posted by: Kill Bill on May 3, 2011 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

Steve I'd like to take exception to your statement that Carter wasn't an especially good president. Pretty simplistic viewpoint. And then backing up yor flummery with comparisons based on 1 military mission. I thought you were more insightful then that.

Posted by: Gandalf on May 3, 2011 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

If you are looking for "political bookends", consider that the Carter administration began the US funding of the mujahadeen opposition to the Soviet-backed government in Afghanistan, which ultimately lead to the rise of the Taliban and al Qaeda.

"It was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention ... We didn't push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would ... The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter. We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire ... What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?"

-- Zbigniew Brzezinski, 1998

Posted by: SecularAnimist on May 3, 2011 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Let's not slam Carter. He came to the presidency under a very different, and somewhat unique, set of circumstances.

Not to mention what he has accomplish post-presidency. It ain't all brush-cuttin'.

Posted by: bignose on May 3, 2011 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

thanks to Jimmy, nobody HAS to put up Christmas lights anymore.

Posted by: paper on May 3, 2011 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

I was at a dinner in the late 1980s when Jimmy Carter was the guest speaker. Someone asked him what was the biggest regret of his presidency. Without any hesitation, he answered, "Not sending more helicopters."

The lesson has been learned - but not by Bush, Jr. who went with Rummy's plan of small forces.

I could not be more proud to be a Democrat and already a contributor to the 2012 re-election campaign.

Posted by: withay on May 3, 2011 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

It is worth pointing out that this mission not only presented more risks, it also had a potentially much higher return.

We now have Bin Laden's computers and records. Just our possession of the info will disrupt Al Queda for years because they don't know what we know. Plus it should result in some actionable information which will further cripple Al Queda.

And I agree with others that Carter wasn't as bad a portrayed. The right and the media HATED him and have unfairly tarnished his reputation. And speaking of the hostage crisis, its worth remembering that there was serious accusations that Reagan's people encouraged Iran to keep them hostage until after the election.

Posted by: Objective Dem on May 3, 2011 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

And let's not forget that Carter reelection changes were damaged by Ted Kennedy's campaign for the Democratic nomination and subsequent lukewarm support.

Yes, the Right and the media hated Carter but many Democrats did not stand with him.

And much of the failure of Iran rescue was due to inter service rivalry. The establishment of JSOC was a step in the right direction but the Goldwater-Nichols reforms that increased the power of the CJCS and the combatant commanders and reduced the role of the Service chiefs in operational planning were even more important.

Posted by: arkie on May 3, 2011 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

For the record, I don't agree that Jimmy Carter was a bad president. He negotiated lasting peace between Israel and Egypt. He brought all the hostages home safely from Iran. He instituted an energy policy, that had it been carried out, would have paid dividends for generations.

Could he have found ways to work better with Congress and to communicate better with the American people? Sure. Did he make mistakes? Absolutely. But in many ways, he was a victim of OPEC and oil prices over which he had no control.

I submit that President Carter was, in fact, a pretty good president.

Posted by: Chris on May 3, 2011 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

I never heard Eagle Claw, I heard Desert 1 for the Tehran hostage rescue.

Am I misinformed?

Posted by: catclub on May 3, 2011 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

What should be treated with ridicule is the Bush/Rice tactic of "going after states that sponsor terrorism".

Terrorists use terrorist tactics because they don't have a state-sponsored wiermacht supplying them with bombers, tanks, long-range missiles, etc.

Ditto the "terrorists hate our freedoms" theme. What crap, yet all of those high-paid media types were able to repeat this nonsense with straight faces.

Either the Bushies were utterly ignorant, or they were using the threat of terrorism as an excuse to do what they wanted to do all along (invade Iraq). I suspect it is a combination of the two.

As far as Carter being a failed president, he achieved the only lasting peace accord in the mideast. And of course, notice the lack of symmetry in the forgiveness Reagan got from retreating after 200 or so Marines were killed in Lebanon.

Posted by: worcestergirl on May 3, 2011 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

I agree that Carter was a good president unfairly demonized, and the first example of the way movement conservatives have treated anyone who dared to disagree with them.

But I have to disagree about the political risks of this mission. We live in a different environment now about military action. If it had failed, unless it was really spectacular, I'm not sure we would have ever heard about it, except as yet another uproar with Pakistan.

Posted by: Redshift on May 3, 2011 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

This was indeed a bookend to the Carter example. I don't think it's necessarily fair or accurate, but the failure in the Iranian desert was a symbol of Democratic foreign policy ineffectiveness. The Reagan Revolution was born from the humiliation of the Iranian hostage crisis (a terrorist act, btw).

The destruction of Al Queda, with the elimination of Bin Laden being the coup de grace, signals a pivot point. Domestic policy Reaganism was already shown to be a failure in 2008. The collapse of the world economy occurred as a result of deregulation, corruption and greed.

Now a Dem has succeeded in foreign affairs. Obama has proven himself both tough and effective, and that takes away a lot of GOP rhetorical firepower.

I don't believe most presidential popularity 'bumps' are long-lasting (see Bush Sr, Iraq invasion), but this is more than a bump; it is a paradigm shift. Obama is now free to continue the withdrawals in Iraq and Afghanistan with the support of a majority of Americans. He'll be able to do so without the expected level of grief from the GOP.

Completing these planned withdrawals makes balancing the budget easier to accomplish. Obama's hand in the deficit fight is strengthened: a balanced budget with defense cutbacks, the Clinton tax rates and minor adjustments to entitlements looks much more realistic than it did last week.

The GOP relies on terror to rally their troops. With Bin Laden feeding fishes, the terror has dissipated. They have little else; their intellectual cupboards are pretty empty these days.

Reaganism was born from the humiliation of the Iranian sands; it may have died along with Bin Laden.

Posted by: danimal on May 3, 2011 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK


Don't go knocking Jimmy's accomplishments. What the hey did W accomplish besides cutting taxes for the rich? I can't think of ONE good thing that W accomplished where we not only have the Peace process between Israel and Egypt attributed to Jimmy, but also the important and critical regulations that were put in place by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (then Health Care Financing Administration), that was created by the Carter Administration.

Jimmy was NOT an unsuccessful President -- just not wholly popular with the WA DC insiders in and outside of his party. He was a Puritan in temperament and a stranger to that social context.

But don't go picking on him..he does not deserve that.

Posted by: Elie on May 3, 2011 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

I've always thought Jimmy Carter was unfairly maligned, then and now. He inherited a horrible economy and did the best anyone could. And his post-presidency life and accomplishments -- I think he's a saint.

I'm proud he was my president.

Posted by: lc on May 3, 2011 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

As I have argued here and elsewhere, for the cult of St. Ronnie to flourish, there must be an anti-Ronnie, gloomy and ridden with malaise, 'cause the real thing was much different. Carter has been smeared by the Right and a certain part of the Culutral Left, and I for one could never forgive Ted Kennedy for the damage he was willing to do the the country and the Progressive/Liberal cause to oppose Carter.
Jimmy made plenty of mistakes, but on balance, had he gotten a second term (and had the Reaganauts not illegally messed with the Iran Hostage situation), we would be a safer, better off country, with a cleaner energy future. Reagan and the Republicans have sold us out for Oil, and future generations may look a good deal more kindly at Carter.

Posted by: MR Bill on May 3, 2011 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

Why do I get the feeling that the only things we (collectively) feel really good about are killing people and winning sports championships?

Posted by: PowerOfX on May 3, 2011 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

He instituted an energy policy, that had it been carried out, would have paid dividends for generations.

It did, actually, just not as much as it could have. Even after being partially dismantled by Reagan, the conservation and efficiency initiatives put in place by Carter ensured that our national energy consumption didn't rise above 1979 levels until 1995 (IIRC.)

This is a major part of why asinine comments like Cheney's that conservation and efficiency make people "feel better" but won't solve the problem are so annoying. In fact it's "drill, baby, drill" that makes (some) people feel good, but actually does nothing to solve the problem.

Posted by: Redshift on May 3, 2011 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

I'm shocked that so many intelligent people are comparing the ill conceived plan to fly enormous helicopters through hundreds of miles of heavily defended Iranian airspace to an embassy occupied by hundreds of fanatical revolutionaries in the heart of a huge city to this surgical operation to get bin Laden. How in gods name could the Carter admin have even dreamed they could get all the way into Tehran, land on the embassy roof, find 52 hostages, get them back to the choppers on the roof and return safely to the carriers they launched from? That operation didn't fail just because the engine failed on one helicopter in a dust storm but because it was conceived in hubris and approved through such an arrogance of power and misguided belief in what our military might was capable of. Carter was badly served by his advisors who cooked that thing up but he ultimately has to take responsibility for giving the go ahead to a mission so ill thought out that it was doomed to failure.

Posted by: bob atkinson on May 3, 2011 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

Here's another thumbs up for Jimmy Carter. Do not forget that Tip O'Neill the Democratic Speaker of the House did not give Carter the same kind of support that he could have expected (supposedly because O'Neill didn't like his inauguration seats). Carter tried to talk the country into energy conservation and use of solar energy. He was ridiculed for his religious beliefs and practices (no hard liquor served in the White House) by the Washington social establishment - I hope Tip enjoyed all his social visits with the Reagans - he undermined his own party's President.
Just for his musical guests at the White House, Jimmy Carter deserves great praise: Muddy Waters, Doc Watson, Willie Nelson, Dizzy Gillespie. I am proud to have voted for Jimmy Carter.

Posted by: MuddyLee on May 3, 2011 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

"Surgical Missile Strike"

"Surgical" missile strikes are as real as nuclear bombs that kill the people and leave the buildings standing. Undoubtedly the President realized this, and had he opted for the shoot-from-thousands-of-miles-away with a bigass bunker-buster strategy favored by the military, there would have been a lot more "collateral damage" in the form of dead wives, dead grandchildren, dead household servants, dead adult children, etc. Assuming the missiles even hit within the compound.

Plus they would never have sorted out the various bodies in the rubble.

Hell, they wouldn't have even been on-site to sort the rubble.

Posted by: zandru on May 3, 2011 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

Here's the thing: neither Bush nor Obama deserves credit for killing Bin Laden. It was an obvious and consensual policy and it was carried out by neither of them. That's like giving either one of them credit for FBI arrests while they are in office.

And by the same token, Carter's "failure" in Iran is not Carter's failure. He wasn't flying the helicopters. Jimmy Carter was a far better president than the Villagers would ever understand, when creidt and blame are actualy apportioned according to merit and the actual facts. And as a person, he has more personal integrity than any president we've had in a long time.

Posted by: The Fool on May 3, 2011 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

Jimmy Carter was way before his time. He saw 30 years into the future and envisioned exactly what we have today... endless wars over fossil fuels.

He tried to reason with Americans. He told us to turn the thermostat down and put on a sweater. For that he was mocked.

In 1980 Americans chose a fancy talking puppet over a reasoned thinker. Raygun's first act once in the WH was to remove the solar panels that Carter had installed.

The rest - Saddam, Iran-Contra, The Saudis, Bin laden - is history worth forgetting.

Posted by: citizen_pain on May 3, 2011 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

Jimmy carter's reputation was the victim of 4 things:

1) an external oil price shock that drove up inflation -- beyond his control

2) Iranian hostage taking -- beyond his control

3) a failed military operation -- beyond his control

4) the venemous Ronald Reagan who scapegoated him for everything

Posted by: The Fool on May 3, 2011 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

Carter is the embodiment of Humanities, of course few would admire such a person! Stupid tripe is the American "white meat". Smarter people know what to really admire in a mans character.

Hooray, the Frankenstein monster is dead. Dear Dr. Frankenstein, please don't creat new CIA armed and trained monsters...

- your loyal and adoring citizenry

Posted by: Trollop on May 3, 2011 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

Great comment, danimal. And I agree with Redshift. Obama is a very shrewd judge of odds. If the mission had failed, who was going to broadcast what it was? Not the administration. Not bin Laden. And not the Pakistani military, who wouldn't have wanted to advertise they were harboring bin Laden. Ordinary citizens might have witnessed something, but like the guy who tweeted the actual raid, wouldn't have had a clue what the mission was. Obama also knew the Pakistani military's duplicity would keep the government there from squawking about their sovereignty being violated. Props to Obama -- he gamed it out brilliantly.

Posted by: dalloway on May 3, 2011 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

Someone upthread asked, "How in gods name could the Carter admin have even dreamed they could get all the way into Tehran, land on the embassy roof, find 52 hostages, get them back to the choppers on the roof and return safely to the carriers they launched from?"

The same way every president does: that's what the military told them. Other than a few presidents like Grant and Eisenhower, the president can't judge tactical decisions better than the military can. He asks them what are our viable options and then chooses one of the pnes they give him.

Posted by: The Fool on May 3, 2011 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

Carter had many good ideas and often doesn't receive due credit for them (e.g., pursuing human rights). OTOH, he was easily the most politically inept president since Hoover, who was a decent sort (for a GOPer), a technocrat, and a one term president.

Posted by: Rich on May 3, 2011 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

REALLY?

Carter is a failed president for the simple reason that he took no action - other than an ill-advised, poorly planned, doomed rescue attempt - when 53 American citizens on US territory (the embassy grounds) were taken hostage by a bunch of college students who made him look like a wimp for 444 days.

Tell me you could imagine Kennedy letting that happen. Or LBJ. Or Truman. Or FDR. Name ONE president of the 20th century or indeed any century, who would have sat back for even one week and watched this without taking dramatic action.

Even the War of 1812 came out better for us than Iran.

NOW you should understand why people correctly view him as a failure.

Posted by: JEA on May 3, 2011 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

Carter's biggest problem was that he was unlucky.

Posted by: Jamie on May 3, 2011 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

Steve,

I think you misunderstand the military. They were not happy with any of the failed missions, regardless of how doubtful they were about the directives. The only one where they were torqued off about was Black Hawk Down because they felt that the team on the ground was left with their a-- swinging in the breeze.

As was observed above, the success in Pakistan was a direct result of the failure in Iran in 1979 - and the military's desire not to fail.

Posted by: MichMan on May 3, 2011 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

He [Carter] brought all the hostages home safely from Iran.

Uh, no he didn't.

Posted by: gw on May 3, 2011 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

Jamie said: Carter's biggest problem was that he was unlucky.

Obama has been incredibly lucky. His opponents drive themselves crazy and self destruct. I am glad his luck is extending to the rest of the US.

Posted by: catclub on May 3, 2011 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

I don't agree that Carter was a bad President. He was in some ways a victim of the dishonesty that was (and still is) the mainstream of the GOP. Like a good dissent, I suspect that much of his policy views will end up being adopted, assuming we ever figure out a way to break the GOP's strangle-hold on policy-making.

Also, too: there were a lot more risks to Carter's raid than just the helicopter breakdowns. For what it's worth, the hostages survived IIRC.

Posted by: Jim Pharo on May 3, 2011 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

JEA, what "action" would you have advised? Every single one of the hostages was released, unharmed, at the end of the standoff thanks to his approach.

This was accomplished without giving into the primary demand of the group that had taken over the U.S. embassy, namely the extradition of the former Shah back to Iran to be tried and executed by them. Note that the conservative hero, Ronald Reagan, later sold the Iranian government a variety of weapons including spare parts and missiles for the U.S.-made jets they had inherited from the Shah in return for their help negotiating the release of hostages held by Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Posted by: tanstaafl on May 3, 2011 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

Count me as a Carter supporter.

Our country would be in a very different (and better) place if the American People had listened to him regarding energy policy.

Instead, they voted for a B-level actor who was peddling the notion that government is bad.

And here we are today.

Posted by: bdop4 on May 3, 2011 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

Carter should also be given credit for beginning the recovery of the military after Vietnam. The military that won the first Gulf War was the direct result of decisions made by Carter. Nearly every major weapon system (M1, F117, MLRS, Apache, Bradley) was was either approved for production by Carter or approved for further testing and development. Reagan give us the B1 bomber which took almost 20 years to become operational, the 600 ship Navy (including four WWII battleships) which we could not afford to maintain, and, the biggest waste of all - Star Wars.

Posted by: arkie on May 3, 2011 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

I'd argue the Carter comparison was always rather ridiculous, and was put to rest when President Obama racked up huge legislative wins over his first two years.

Carter also had significant legislative victories: a slightly reduced budget deficit, Panam Canal Treaty, and natural gas deregulation (followed by petroleum, airline, banking and [passed under Reagan, but written under Carter] trucking deregulation. That was significant legislation for which Carter took the leadership role and also (for the deregulations) took heat from liberal Dems. Carter also started an alternative energy investment program that would have proved to be very valuable by now had it not been discontinued by the Republicans.

Carter got too little credit for his accomplishments, partly because he used Biblical self-denying language to describe them, instead of forward-looking problem-solving language to describe them.

The raid on Bin Laden was more successful in part because it was more limited in scope and less complicated.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on May 3, 2011 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

EAGLE CLAW *was* a horribly planned operation (Bob Atkinson upthread summarizes the problems, though he doesn't mention that the plan also required *driving* the hostages out of Tehran), but its biggest failures had to do with a lack of visibility into the political situation on the ground -- USG was banking, in part, on the Iranian government being either unwilling or incapable of responding, or having a benign view of any US rescue operation. Didn't work that way in practice, of course, and the failure of the mission only stiffened the spine of the radicals.

As for JEA's comment, I'm afraid that our reaction to US hostages in Lebanon in the 1980s was characterized by ineffectiveness and lassitude, punctuated by the odd arms sale to Iran. And how would we describe our reaction when UN and USMC personnel were killed en masse in Beirut? (France launched airstrikes; the Reagan admin, for better or for worse -- and there's arguments both ways -- did nothing.)

Posted by: twb on May 3, 2011 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

Carter may not have been a great President; but, he is a great and kind man. We are lucky to have him represent our country in many of his present endeavors.

Posted by: Bonnie on May 3, 2011 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK

DAY notes that, "The average age of the men was 38 years".

Just a personal aside, but that rang a bell . . . I visited the 1st Air Commandos at Pleiku in 1967 and, at that time, the average age of the Skyraider pilots was 38, and most were majors. They were flying to a lot of places we were told about, and some that we weren't.

Sometimes a little age and experience makes all the difference.

Posted by: Squeaky McCrinkle on May 3, 2011 at 7:16 PM | PERMALINK

Wow twb, can you give any more information on how the plan called for the hostages to be driven out of Tehran? Do you have a link to that? Where were the vehicles coming from that would be needed to take 52 hostages out of the embassy, the city and the country? I'm stunned that that was part of the plan as it makes it even more improbable of being successfully completed.

Posted by: bobatkinson on May 3, 2011 at 8:02 PM | PERMALINK

Most of the second half of Carter's term was about Iran and the hostages. The media kept a count of the days, and the longer they were in captivity, the weaker Carter seemed. One of Carter's biggest problems was deciding how to run a reelection race with the hostages still being held. He never quite figured out the right tone. However, he got the hostages out safely without selling out the country's laws or values and without sacrificing the country's interests in the region. FDR and the Democrats were able to hang Herbert Hoover around the neck of Republicans for years and years. I don't know why the GOP thinks the same will happen with Carter. One, he was a much better president than Hoover. Two, most voters today can't recall or weren't around to remember Carter's term in office. If they know him now, it is as a genteel, homebuilding, peacemaking, Nobel-winning, Southern accented gentleman who seems to like to speak his mind. He is also a pretty good defender of his own record. People may try to caricature him as a failure, but he has been visible and vocal enough to keep too many myths from rising. Some of Carter's strengths as president have only become apparent in light of the weaknesses of his successors. Look at the miseries of Bush II and Carter looks better and better.

Posted by: wesfromga on May 6, 2011 at 3:20 AM | PERMALINK
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