IN DEFENSE OF JIMMY CARTER
Ted Salins © 2011
If Ronald Reagan had volunteered as a Naval Officer to enter the melted core of the first nuclear accident at Chalk River, Ontario to supervise the clean up, and to expose himself to the melted core of Three Mile Island as President to reassure a frightened nation – monuments would be built.
If George H.W. Bush had personally made dozens of trips to impoverished parts of Africa to oversee the near elimination of guinea worm disease and to start mass inoculations for river blindness, his legend would be mythic.
If George W. Bush had conducted Sunday school throughout his entire presidency, he would be regarded as a true Christian.
If any of the above went to hot spots around the world to monitor democratic elections in unlikely, dangerous places, he would be cited as a tireless fighter for human rights and the spread of democracy.
Yet Jimmy Carter actually did all of the above and many Americans treat him with such vile as can only be explained as partisan hatred. A quick search on the blogosphere to find comments about the former President:
“He should just go away and do what old people are supposed to do.”
“He is a senile old fool who should stay home and watch the grass grow.”
“I am amused by the mental failings of this old man.”
“Maybe if (Carter) would just shut up and go away these stories of his failures would as well.”
“Why doesn’t this old fool just give it up and leave us alone.”
“Jimmy Carter is the poster child for former Presidents who should be seen and not heard. I guess we should be grateful he doesn’t play golf or we all would be ducking for cover.”
There seems to be three themes: 1) Carter is old, 2) old people have no value and 3) he and other older people should leave us alone. Where are these marching orders coming from? Are we to believe that angry posters who sit at their computers spewing venom are more decent and committed than Jimmy Carter? “This man has degenerated into the useless idiot category,” one of them wrote. What is the usefulness of that post? What child will it save from river blindness?
All presidents have their detractors, but none in such an inexplicable, lockstep manner. The theory seems to be that bad things happened during The Carter Administration and as President he made mistakes. Gee. Sounds like every administration – why is his held to a higher standard?
The reasons on the blogosphere that most “explain” why he is “the worst president” are “high interest rates”, “gas lines” and the Iran hostage crises. By this standard, Reagan should be judged on the outbreak of AIDS, the crack epidemic and the murder of 250 plus Marines in Lebanon; George W. Bush would be responsible for the beheadings of Americans posted for all to see on the internet. Is that not worse than Carter’s high interest rates? Can someone explain the specific date and moment when Carter made the decision to “force” private companies to raise interest rates on the American public? Did the banks beg him, “Please Mr. President, don’t make us raise rates on our fellow citizens!”. Where is the proof that high interest rates during Carter’s term were easily avoided and with what policy? Explain.
Jimmy Carter was not perfect – no one is. Some of his policies did not work. I could easily argue that the beheadings of Americans are directly related to decisions by George W. Bush’s misadventure in Iraq. How many Americans were beheaded during the years of the Carter Administration? If “gas lines” make you want to punch a hole in the wall, the beheadings should make you burn the house down.
Carter made what is regarded as the worst presidential speech of all time, the “malaise” speech, July 15, 1979. Here is a sample:
“…In a nation that was proud of hard work, strong families, close-knit communities, and our faith in God, too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption. Human identity is no longer defined by what one does, but by what one owns. But we’ve discovered that owning things and consuming things does not satisfy our longing for meaning…”
If you have a problem with that, then you probably think old people have no value and should just “go away”.