This piece was originally posted at The New Democrat
I mentioned this last week, but President Jimmy Carter was not a failed president and I laid out why I believe that. And of course we have the benefit of history now. And the economy was in bad shape when he left and the Soviet Union seemed to be stronger, even though again from the benefit of history their economy was failing with all of their bread lines, unemployment, poverty, shortages, that took them at least twenty years to over. So of course the Soviet Union wasn’t stronger when President Carter left office. Their military was just doing more because they thought America was weak.
There a couple of reasons why Jimmy Carter wasn’t a great president. One of them his fault and the other partly his fault. His relationship with the two Democratic Congress’s that he had, especially with Senator Ted Kennedy, but Speaker of the House Tip O’Neil and Senate Leader Robert Byrd and many other examples. President Carter, actually had a better relationship with Senate Minority Leader Howard Baker, the ranking Republican in Congress during the Carter years, than he probably had with any Democratic leader in Congress. Including Southern Democrats who he probably had things in common with.
The other issue being all the problems that he had to deal with as president. Not his fault for the most part that they happened. Especially with the economy, but where he comes up short from my perspective at least was his failure to deal with them and gain traction and success in those areas. President Obama, inherited a worst economy than either President Carter, or President Reagan and yet the economy started moving again fairly quickly under his administration. And started creating jobs early in his second year.
I think what you see in the Carter White House diary, is what Americans back then and today really like and respect about the man. That Jimmy Carter, is a person and individual before he’s a politician.
Jimmy Carter is the politician that Americans say they want. Above board, free-thinker, free speaker, above politics, not all the time, but a lot of the time, does and says what he believes and then deals with the consequences. Including about how he feels with people he has to work with. As you see in his White House diary. The problem with Americans though and perhaps where Carter’s personality hurt him, is that is just what Americans say they want. They actually prefer bullshit artists who tell them what they want to hear, generally.