Democrats seeking the White House are turning to Georgia Democrat Jimmy Carter, who occupied the residence from 1976 to 1980. Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg was born two years after Carter lost to Ronald Reagan, but pronounced the one-term Democrat “an extraordinary person.” For Cory Booker, 50, Jimmy Carter was a “guiding light and inspiration” but the most outspoken candidate was Minnesota Democrat Amy Klobuchar.
“Jimmy Carter is a decent, well-meaning person, someone who people are talking about again given the time that we are in,” explained Klobuchar, who was 16 when Carter was elected. “He won because he worked so hard, and he had a message of truth and honesty,” the candidate proclaimed. “I think about him all the time.”
Carter was “ahead of his time” on the environment and climate change, but Klobuchar conceded that the Carter administration “was not perfect.” Jimmy had some thoughts on that theme in his 2015 auto-hagiography A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety, relevant now as the United States again faces off with Iran.
Those of the Buttigieg-Booker generation may not recall that in November, 1979, Iran’s Islamic regime, headed by the Ayatollah Khomeini, invaded the U.S. embassy, took 52 Americans hostage and held them for 444 days.
“This crisis was of overriding importance to me,” writes Carter, who mentions not a single American hostage by name. “Since I had refrained from exerting military force to punish the Iranians, the failure to secure the freedom of the hostages made me vulnerable to their allegations that I was an ineffective leader.” So as Amy Klobuchar said, Carter wasn’t perfect.
Carter’s pick for ambassador to the United Nations was Andrew Young, “a superb ambassador,” Jimmy said, “who always supported freedom and human rights and I trusted him completely.” The ex-president failed to note that Young defended the Soviet trial of the dissident Natan Sharansky as “a gesture of independence,” and proclaimed Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini “some kind of saint.”
As Steven Hayward recalled in The Real Jimmy Carter, the president did mount an effort to rescue the hostages but defined it not as a military operation but a “humanitarian mission.” This was so Carter could boast that he was “the first American president in fifty years who has never sent troops into combat.” Carter’s pacifism also encouraged the Soviet Union to invade Afghanistan, and he wasn’t exactly a model ex-president.
Carter regularly ran his mouth at Reagan and other sitting presidents. In 1991 he publicly opposed the Gulf War and asked Arab leaders to pull out of the American coalition. He called attempts to capture Somali warlord Farah Aidid “regrettable” and invited Aidid to visit him in Atlanta. Carter visited Syria and jollied it up with Hafez Assad. In 2002 Carter met with Sado-Stalinist Fidel Castro and touted Communist Cuba’s “superb systems of health care and universal education.”
Jimmy Carter never met an anti-American dictator he didn’t like and the Georgia Democrat was even more clueless on the domestic side. On his watch, inflation, unemployment and a stagnant economy gave rise to the “misery index.” According to Carter, a lower standard of living was “inevitable” and “the only trend is downward.” Even so, as Carter told Douglas Brinkley in 1995, “allowing Ronald Reagan to become president was by far my biggest failure in office.”
On January 20, 1981, the first day of Reagan’s presidency, Iran released the 52 American hostages. More than 30 years later, Carter wrote, “I have never known what caused the Ayatollah to delay granting their freedom until I was out of office.” The prospect that Reagan would use force might have had something to do with it. The Islamic regime was hoping for the re-election of Jimmy Carter, someone they could push around. A similar dynamic exists today.
POTUS 44 gave the Iranian mullahs everything they wanted, and even shipped them planeloads of cash. President Trump pulled out of the Iran deal and imposed tough sanctions. When the regime got rough, Trump sent a carrier battle group and said Iran might officially cease to exist.
Former Secretary of State John Kerry, the Democrat presidential candidate in 2004, has been telling the mullahs that Trump won’t be around for long. As the mullahs wait for a president who will give them their deal back, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar seek the blessing of Jimmy Carter, who for 444 days failed to secure release of 52 American hostages from Iran.
As a state politician, Carter hailed the racist Lester Maddox as “the embodiment of the Democratic Party.” One of Carter’s campaign leaflets charged that opponent Carl Sanders “had paid tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr.”
President Jimmy claimed to have repulsed an attack by what aids described as a “killer rabbit,” and Carter was the only president to file a UFO sighting with the Air Force. Jimmy Carter took one single-semester, non-credit course in nuclear physics, then claimed to be a “nuclear physicist.”
Jimmy Carter remains a strong contender for the worst president and worst ex-president of all time. For Democrat candidates, on the other hand, he’s an extraordinary and inspirational guide. Look for more exciting episodes of “The Loser Apprentice” as 2020 approaches.