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Our Worst Ex-President

There he goes again. In an interview with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Jimmy Carter has called George W. Bush’s presidency “the worst in history” in the area of foreign affairs. In a separate interview on the BBC, the former President also blasted the conduct of Prime Minister Tony Blair of Great Britain, the leader of America’s closest ally, as “abominable,” and also “loyal, blind, apparently subservient.” Said Carter, “the almost undeviating support by Great Britain for the ill-advised policies of President Bush in Iraq have been a major tragedy for the world.”  

Has any American President ever lambasted one of his successors with language such as this, and on foreign soil—or at least on foreign airwaves—to boot?

Speaking of the “worst in history,” there can be little doubt that Jimmy Carter is himself Our Worst Ex-President—which is the title of a comprehensive, timely, and utterly devastating essay by Josh Muravchik that COMMENTARY published in February.

What explains Carter’s own abominable conduct? “Ever since his presidency,” writes Muravchik, “there has been a wide gap between Carter’s estimation of himself and the esteem in which other Americans hold him.” And it is this gap that

has manifestly embittered him. For all his talk of “love,” the driving motives behind his post-presidential ventures seem, in fact, to be bitterness together with narcissism (as it happens, two prime ingredients of a martyr complex). But he has worked hard to earn the reputation he enjoys. In contravention of the elementary responsibilities of loyalty for one in his position, he has denigrated American policies and leaders in his public and private discussions in foreign lands. He has undertaken personal diplomacy to thwart the policies of the men elected to succeed him. And in doing so he has, at least in the case of North Korea, actively damaged our security.

Muravchik notes that there can be little doubt that the American electorate was right in 1980 when it tossed out Carter in a landslide, thereby judging him to have been “among our worst Presidents.” Muravchik is himself undoubtedly right in his certainty that “history will judge him to have been our very worst ex-President.” Read Muravchik’s indispensable essay here.

To learn about how Carter helped to destabilize America’s most critical ally in the Persian Gulf, click here.

To learn about how Jimmy Carter bungled the Iranian hostage crisis, click here.

To learn more about what I think about Jimmy Carter, and what he thinks about me, click here.

 



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