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Ask people about Jimmy Carter and the likely response will sound something like, "A good an honest man, a mediocre [or worse] President, and the best former President we've had." The latter part of that statement had been considered the common wisdom almost ever since Carter left office after having lost his bid for a second term to the Reagan Revolution, especially given his high-profile work with charities like Habitat for Humanity.
Over the past decade, that carefully-built reputation for charity and honesty has slowly declined as Carter injected himself into foreign policy across three administrations, Democrats and Republicans alike, where he most definitely did not wait for an invitation before commencing to unconstructively meddle where voters clearly told him in 1980 they did not want him. The nadir came last month, when he openly campaigned against the Iraq War overseas in Britain, attempting to undermine US policy and support from its closest ally during wartime.
Now George Will tells us that the first assessment -- Carter's honesty -- also fails the test. Carter has often expressed bitterness at losing his re-election bid and claimed over the years that the theft of his pre-debate briefing book lost him the election ... instead of the double-digit lending rates, skyrocketing unemployment, and the humiliation of his weak response to Iran's hostaging of our embassy in Teheran. Will responds to Carter's assertion that Will stole the briefing book himself in a must-read column appearing in today's Washington Post:
A quarter of a century has passed since 44 states said "No, thanks" to Jimmy Carter's offer to serve a second term, yet he still evidently thinks his loss is explained not by foreign policy debacles, such as invading Iran with eight helicopters, and a misery index -- inflation plus unemployment -- of 22, almost triple today's index. Rather, he seems to think approximately this:
Ronald Reagan won because he won the only debate. He won it not because of Carter's debate performance ("I had a discussion with my daughter, Amy, the other day, before I came here, to ask her what the most important issue was. She said she thought nuclear weaponry . . .") but only because Reagan had Carter's briefing book. And Reagan had it because this columnist gave it to him.
That last accusation, for which there is no evidence, is, as he has been told, false. ... Recently in a Plains, Ga., church, he illustrated his aptitude for the virtue of forgiveness by saying that once, after columnist Will read a report of his telling his briefing book tale, Will wrote to him "asking for forgiveness."
Will then refutes Carter and his paranoid fantasies expeditiously by revealing that the only letter he wrote Carter specifically told him that he had no idea how David Stockman got the briefing book, although he saw it with the future Reagan budget director during the debate prep. The only point on which Will expressed regret was that Carter's staff could come up with such poor preparation for the crucial moment of his campaign, and that its usefulness approached zero for Reagan and for Carter.
Will doesn't reveal if Amy prepared it for her dad, discussing the importance of nuclear weaponry. He does, however, take the occasion to review Carter's increasingly bitter performance as ex-president and suggests that he needs to be re-evaluated for that pedestal which at one time appeared his destiny after office. It seems that the good and honest man has transformed into an incompetent, miserable old liar -- or more to the point, may always have been, behind that cheery smile and folksy PR.Sphere It View blog reactions
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Because it simply cannot be said enough that the very worst President of modern times (possibly ever) has been an even worse ex-President. George Will delivers a lovely spanking: A quarter of a century has passed since 44 states said "No, t...[Read More]
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