It Is Time to Reconsider Jimmy Carter’s Presidency

Jimmy CarterYou probably heard the sad news, Former President Jimmy Carter Reveals Cancer Diagnosis. While it is true that he’s 90 years old, I still had hoped that he would be around for many more years. But we can be grateful that it is his body and not his mind that is being attacked. I always thought Ronald Reagan’s last years were tragic — alive but dead in a public sense — and a personal sense.

The one thing I really didn’t like about Carter’s presidency was his return of the Cold War. In that way, both Nixon and Reagan were more liberal than he was. And there is an interesting irony today, where the Republican Party is much closer to Carter with regard to Russia and China, than they are to Reagan. But in their minds, Carter was some foreign policy wimp. But it shouldn’t come as much of a shock that they are a bunch of idiots who don’t know a thing about history.

What everyone will admit is that Carter is a man of integrity. Sadly, Republicans now think that being a total jerk and unethical to boot is a prerequisite for political power (and they wonder why Trump is doing so well). As a result, it is what makes Carter great that they see as disqualifying. But even they will admit that he isn’t a liar. But they hate some of the things that he says — precisely because they are true. Consider this, for example:

Jimmy Carter

At this point, I don’t think that anyone — including Carter himself — knows what the prognosis is. But it doesn’t sound good. He had gone in to have a growth on his liver removed. Once inside, doctors found that he had cancer and that it had spread to multiple parts of his body. So I’m thinking he only has about a year.

It’s a good opportunity for the nation to reevaluate his presidency. Because just as Ronald Reagan’s is almost completely mythical in its laudatory content, Carter’s is equally mythical in its disparagement. Carter was actually a very good president during very difficult times. And Reagan is wrongly given credit for a great deal of the good that Carter did. He was the prototype of the modern Democratic president: competent and realistic without a great deal of ideology. That’s pretty much the opposite of the modern Republican president. Carter is a national treasure, and more people ought to realize that.

I hope that Carter somehow makes a recovery and that we have him around for many more years to come.

Afterword

Based upon the title of this article, I did a Google search and came up with a couple of articles you might want to check out:

Jimmy Carter Was a Lot Better President Than Almost Anyone Ever Admits
A President’s Day Reconsideration: Jimmy Carter

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

6 thoughts on “It Is Time to Reconsider Jimmy Carter’s Presidency

  1. Masciotra mocks the notion of “best ex-president,” but that’s not fair. John Quincy Adams was a great voice against slavery in Congress after his time as president. And most modern ex-presidents have either padded their coffers with speaking fees or obsessed over their libraries (or both). Carter was an alright president (you note the warmongering, I’ll add his failure to stand up for unions) and a terrific world citizen ever since. No shame in that!

    • Yeah, I call him the first New Democrat. But at this point, his policies would be considered downright communistic. I think you have to see Carter’s presidency in its historical context. I think he is the best president since Truman — with the possible exception of Obama. (I’m amazed to see myself writing that!) So I think Masciotra’s main point is not that “best ex-president” is necessary a bad thing, but that it is intended to mock him presidency. And that’s wrong given the presidents who came before and after him.

      It’s weird. The helicopter crash while trying to rescue the hostages: how was that Carter’s fault? And even more: how did it make him “weak”? It is only that it feeds into a pre-defined narrative. And if the mission had been a success? It would have been like Obama “killing” bin Laden.

      • It is weird. The only mildly anti-war Democrat to even be nominated was McGovern (a bomber pilot in WWII). All Dem presidents have been staunchly pro-military. In a way the outrage over the hostage crisis was the start of the modern GOP — it was when Goldwater/Birch ideas of the left “being too weak on Russia” became certified as a commonly-accepted fiction rather than extremist dingbattery. (And now you have, per Taibbi’s latest, Ted Cruz saying Obama wants to pay for Medicare for ISIS.)

        My post-FDR fave is probably Johnson. The war sucked, but they all do that. I suspect whatever hesitancy he had on enforcing voting rights in the South came from — correctly — guessing that such a move would end Democratic politics in the region forever. And people don’t give the War On Poverty enough credit. It didn’t solve poverty, but it drastically reduced it with a success no federal program has achieved since.

        • Carter does have the distinction of being the only recent president to have presided over a time when our military fired no guns and dropped no bombs on our enemies. Admittedly, that wouldn’t have been the case if the rescue had worked. But it is an indication of the fact that he took that stuff seriously.

          Yeah, we don’t want to forget Johnson. But given the relative constraints, I think Obama has been better. But the Great Society was a wonderful thing. Voting Rights Act was a great thing. There is a whole lot to love about Johnson

          • LB Johnson was the greatest president by a mile. That is, the least worst. He has some genuinely progressive programs. If he had kept America out of Vietnam, he would have been truly (not just relatively) great, like King or Milk.

            Carter never got in a shooting war. He (like presidents before and after) got others to do it. East Timor, 100’s of thousands killed. But yes, everyone since is much, much worse. At least he’s been willing to get out of the elite-defined box since leaving office. I don’t think that will happen with either Clinton or Obama.

            • On balance, LBJ was a very good president. But Vietnam weighs heavily against him, especially given that he wasn’t forced to escalate.

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