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« Honesty from the Democrats | Main | Bank for Polygamists Goes Under »


John Top

I'm not sure how fair a retrospective on a democratic president one can get from the Weekly Standard. As a hatchet job, it is well done, however.

The opinion journal conducted a survey with the federalist society and Carter ranked 30th of 39, very close to Ford (28) and Nixon (33). This is not "one of the worst failures in the history of the American presidency"; those ranking lower than Carter are so much more worse that Carter can't really compare.

My Carter talking points:

The horrible economic circumstances were a result of Johnson's war and domestic spending and Nixon's wage and price controls. He did appoint Paul Volker to Fed Chair which finally wrung inflation out the system. Had Ronald Reagan been elected in 1976 he would have been stuck with the same lousy economic conditions as Carter and his policies would have done little to improve conditions from 77 - 81.

After the deceits of Johnson and Nixon he kept his pledge to not lie to the American people. I would have appreciated more of that from our current and most recent president.

The other members of the Nobel prize committee disowned the comments of the chair with regards to Carter's receiving the peace prize. NY Daily News Oct. 12, 2002: "However, other committee members said Berge was expressing his own opinion and that it was not part of discussions leading to the prize."

Carter had one aim in the hostage crises: to get the hostages home alive. He succeeded in that. Maybe the American people would have traded some of the hostages lives to get them home sooner. I don't know that 5 years after leaving Saigon we were ready full scale military action, especially in that part of the world in a country that bordered the Soviet Union.

I recall Carter's presidency being much more steadfast for human rights as a principle of US foreign policy. I happen to think it should be rather than talking about the need for expanding democracy while seemingly ignoring our continued support of awful regimes in the Middle East and central Asia (i.e. Turkmenistan--they give us airbases we allow them to oppress their citizens).

From 1969 to 1976 (Nixon / Ford) defense spending fell from 8.7% of GDP to 5.2%; in 1980 it was at 4.9%. Hardly the gutting of defense that Carter's often accused of.

The Republican Party began its comeback with Barry Goldwater; it was certainly not "down for the count". The Republican resurgencehad as much to do with appealing to white southerners who had been voting democratic only because of the civil war; in one sense the civil rights movement was another act so they switched their allegiances.

Dave Tufte

Yes, The Weekly Standard did do a hatchet job. I'm still of the opinion that Carter deserves a hatchet job every chance we get.

I think the OpinionJournal ranking says a lot about how bad Carter was: the nine people below him consist of every president between 1848 and 1876 except Lincoln, plus Nixon and Harding. So, Carter was almost as bad as people that brought us the Civil War, reconstruction, Watergate and Teapot Dome ... Carter was just more pervasively bad on a wider range of more minor issues.

In his defense, Carter did do some good things economically. The Volker appointment was one, and the move towards wider deregulation was another. I was never in the camp that thought he cut military spending too much, just that he was a bean counter about many programs.

As to the bad economic times, this is a red herring. The economy actually did quite well under Carter: real GDP growth was 4.6%, 5.6%, and 3.2% in 1977-9. There's a very real case to be made that "it's the economy, stupid" is not the reason Carter is regarded as a failure.

I place no value on lying or not lying on the part of politicians. Call me jaded.

The Nobel Committee comment is factual, which is why I didn't quote what was in the original article.

As to the hostages, what would someone else's motives have been - to bring the hostages home dead? Bringing them home alive is a minimal standard, which Carter achieved, and which others might not have in the same circumstances, but it probably isn't much of a claim to fame.

The data at GenocideWatch do not support the position that the Carter administration supported their human rights talk with action. As to the supporting of "awful regimes", I don't agree with that, but it seems like that policy has always come from Foggy Bottom not the White House.

Lastly, I don't have a clear position about Republican strength in the South. What I do know is that voting Republican is something that is still done across the South predominantly for national elections. So, I have my doubts about whether it has anything to do with civil rights. The South didn't vote strongly for Nixon in 1968, they did vote strongly for Carter in 1976, and Clinton won 12 of 19 former slave states in each election ... so I'm not sure that the facts back up the idea that the Republicans have a solid South to back them up. They only had it in 1972, 1980, 1984, and 1988 when they won landslides anyway. Doesn't seem like much of an advantage.


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