There are so many sad things to write about today but we all need the cathartic diversion of a true laughingstock, so let us talk about Jimmy Carter. Carter, by all biological indications, is still alive, so we may speak of him ill. Very, very, incurably ill.
From Jan. 20, 1977, through Jan. 20, 1981, our nation endured an unpleasant, aberrant, tragicomic episode. In the somewhat confused political atmosphere subsequent to the resignation of Richard Nixon, the electorate succumbed to the blandishments of a folksy Georgia governor who espoused a form of bland centrism. The theory, presumably, was that boredom was preferable to the rather disorienting excitement of daily following the antics of such eccentrics as G. Gordon Liddy, Martha Mitchell and Sam Ervin. The new President, James Earl Carter, was said to be a man of great learning who would repair the fracture of our body politic: a polymath for the aftermath.
This cleverly packaged (supposedly by Democrat pollster/consultant Pat Caddell) program turned out to be a load of hooey, bunkum, trash, poppycock and baloney, not to mention hogwash. In short order it was clear to have been cooked up. First and foremost, the man wouldn’t recognize the center if it was as tall as Kareem Abdul Jabbar. He was further left than Snow White. No electron was safe around such a free radical as he, nor for that matter was the rest of the country. He presided over an era unique in our national history for economic failure and military impotence.
Not even the most elemental of his assigned tasks did he accomplish; namely, that of normalizing White House life. He brought along a cast of characters that made Erskine Caldwell’s creations seem patrician by comparison. To really identify a comparable set of flakes in fiction one would have to reach for the works of Dr. Seuss. There was a banker named Bert Lance who directed the Office of Management and Budget until his corrupt tenure as Chairman of the Calhoun Bank in Georgia came to light and he betook his portly figure back into the backwoods.
An adviser named Hamilton Jordan sported a sort of John-Ritter-with-a-leer charm that he took to be irresistible. All too frequently tales of the resistance surfaced to regale newspaper readers. He responded to one such rebuff by pouring his drink down the woman’s dress. There was also a beer-swilling brother named Billy who was desperately trying to cash in on his fraternal status. Two novel ways: he contracted with a beer company to manufacture a brand named Billy and he registered as a lobbyist for Libya and Moammar Qaddafi.
This collection of boobs, kooks and crooks took us down a garden path that led into a swamp. The prime lending rate rose higher than 15%, making it virtually impossible to acquire a home. Unemployment hovered near ten percent, leaving one tenth of our citizens skulking in alleyways, looking either for trouble or despair. No solution was offered by the President and his resident geniuses beyond the recommendation to come to terms with America’s newly abbreviated capacities.
The military capacity of this country shrank to a nullity. When sixty-six Americans were held hostage at our embassy in Teheran for 444 days by mobs affiliated with the Islamic revolt in Iran, we stood by helpless and humiliated. When a rescue was finally attempted by landing eight helicopters in a nearby desert, a few of the helicopters became incapacitated by the landing and the project was hastily aborted. All of this came after the Carter administration had essentially stood by while the Muslim rebels deposed the Shah, last in a 2,500-year line of Persian monarchs.
This is the Jimmy Carter who today writes books and gives interviews in derogation of the policies of President Bush in prosecuting the war against Islamic terror. His recent remarks to Der Spiegel do not reflect new trends in his thought; he told the American Prospect in the month after the March 2003 invasion of Iraq that it was done by Bush for his own aggrandizement.
The man is a fool at best and a menace at worst. He does have strong book learning and, were he finally to close his mouth, we might respect him in that regard. Instead he has undertaken to provide regularly for the benefit of our society an object lesson on the potential distortion of good education by bad judgment. I opened by suggesting that we laugh. But perhaps I erred; it only hurts when I laugh at this spectacular buffoon who incredibly is our former commander-in-chief.