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"An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last."
Sir Winston Churchill

5.22.2007

Couldn't Happen to A Nicer Guy

Hitch takes down Jimmuh:

"Worst in history," as the great statesman from Georgia has to know, has been the title for which he has himself been actively contending since 1976. I once had quite an argument with the late Sen. Eugene McCarthy, who maintained adamantly that it had been right for him to vote for Ronald Reagan in 1980 for no other reason. "Mr. Carter," he said, "quite simply abdicated the whole responsibility of the presidency while in office. He left the nation at the mercy of its enemies at home and abroad. He was the worst president we ever had."

I still think Richard Nixon has to be the prime candidate here, but you will notice that Jimmy Carter evinces nostalgia for that period, too. Apparently, the Christmas bombing of Vietnam, the invasion of Cambodia, the subversion of democracy in Chile, the raising of illegal slush funds, and the attempt to bug the Democratic National Committee offices were assertions of America's "basic values." Leave aside Carter's newfound admiration for Ronald Reagan, who is now undergoing a more general historical revision thanks to the work of professors Diggins and Brinkley, and just concentrate for a moment on what he says about George Bush Sr. What did he say at the time? Many people in retrospect think Bush did a good job in assembling a large multinational coalition, under U.N. auspices, for the emancipation of Kuwait from Iraqi occupation. But Jimmy Carter used his prestige, at that uneasy moment, to make an open appeal to all governments not to join that coalition. He went public to oppose the settled policy of Congress and the declared resolutions of the United Nations and to denounce his own country as the warmonger. And, after all, why not? It was he who had created the conditions for the Gulf crisis in the first place—initially by fawning on the shah of Iran and then, when that option collapsed, by encouraging Saddam Hussein to invade Iran and by "tilting" American policy to his side. If I had done such a thing, I would take very good care to be modest when discussions of Middle Eastern crises came up. But here's the thing about self-righteous, born-again demagogues: Nothing they ever do, or did, can be attributed to anything but the very highest motives.

Here is a man who, in his latest book on the Israel-Palestine crisis, has found the elusive key to the problem. The mistake of Israel, he tells us (and tells us that he told the Israeli leadership) is to have moved away from God and the prophets and toward secularism. If you ever feel like a good laugh, just tell yourself that things would improve if only the Israeli government would be more Orthodox. Jimmy Carter will then turn his vacantly pious glare on you, as if to say that you just don't understand what it is to have a personal savior.

In the Carter years, the United States was an international laughingstock. This was not just because of the prevalence of his ghastly kin: the beer-sodden brother Billy, doing deals with Libyan President Muammar Qaddafi, and the grisly matriarch, Miz Lillian. It was not just because of the president's dire lectures on morality and salvation and his weird encounters with lethal rabbits and UFOs. It was not just because of the risible White House "Bible study" sessions run by Bert Lance and his other open-palmed Elmer Gantry pals from Georgia. It was because, whether in Afghanistan, Iran, or Iraq—still the source of so many of our woes—the Carter administration could not tell a friend from an enemy. His combination of naivete and cynicism—from open-mouthed shock at Leonid Brezhnev's occupation of Afghanistan to underhanded support for Saddam in his unsleeping campaign of megalomania—had terrible consequences that are with us still. It's hardly an exaggeration to say that every administration since has had to deal with the chaotic legacy of Carter's mind-boggling cowardice and incompetence.


History has not, and will not, be kind to this arrogant moron. There are simply not enough Doris Kearnes Goodwins or Michael Beschloss' in academia to polish the turd that was the Carter presidency sufficiently enough to convince the most gullible and ill-read buffoon that it was a lump of coal, much less a diamond.

Carter's behavior is explicable chiefly in that he knows this to be true as well as we do. He is a pathetic failure of a man whose smugness and obtuseness serves as pity repellent.

He'll have to build several million more houses to make up for the lives he destroyed in the Middle East, in Afghanistan, and throughout the world as a result of his preening idiocy. Given his preference for flapping his gums over swinging his hammer, his shrewish wife will have planted him in Georgia peat long before he can set things aright.

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