Sunday, September 20, 2009

Hitchens on Jimmy Carter

The latest absurdities to emerge from Jimmy Carter's big, smug mouth - Christopher Hitchens (article of May 21, 2007).

It's always pleasant to read a literate takedown of Jimmy Carter, who is one of my least favorite former living presidents. I learned something new and startling from this article - apparently Eugene McCarthy voted for Ronald Reagan in 1980 rather than for the sitting president of his own party. McCarthy said: "Mr. Carter 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."

Hitchens' case against Carter: "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." I hadn't realized that Carter had supported Saddam Hussein also. He joins the illustrious company of Donald Rumsfield in misestimating Saddam.

I also did not vote for Carter. I was living in Seattle in the fall of 1980, and had temporarily turned into a Republican in order to vote for John Anderson in the Republican caucuses. When election day came, I didn't vote for Reagan, or Carter, or Anderson (who I think was running as a third party candidate), but for another third party candidate, Barry Commoner. Carter demonstrated how little concern he had for his own party when he conceded before the polls had closed on the west coast, thus reducing the incentive of Democratic voters to go to the polls and vote for Democrats in other races.

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