Feature

Carter

Was he worse than Bush?

Jimmy Carter has some nerve, said Christopher Hitchens in Slate.com. Under what passed for his presidential leadership between 1976 and 1980, the United States was 'œan international laughingstock,' paralyzed by galloping inflation, high unemployment, and the humiliation of the Iranian hostage crisis. Yet last week 'œthe purse–mouthed preacher man from Plains' called the Bush administration 'œthe worst in history.' That's rich, said Jeff Jacoby in The Boston Globe. 'œHistory's ultimate judgment on Bush may not be known for some time,'' but Carter was clearly the worst president of the 20th century. His domestic failings were exceeded only by his weakness before America's enemies. He stood idly by while the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, and his inertia as Iran kept U.S. hostages in chains for 444 days began the age of Islamic terrorism. No wonder he was booted out after one term, in 'œa 44–state landslide.''

So maybe Carter was no FDR, said the St. Louis Post–Dispatch in an editorial. But in judging Bush a failure—based on what Carter called his 'œadverse impact on the nation around the world'—he's absolutely right. From the start, our utterly unilateral president has 'œthumbed his nose' at the rest of the world. His invasion of Iraq has bred terror in the Middle East and undermined America's moral standing. Meanwhile, Bush has let 'œfar more dangerous nuclear aspirants' such as North Korea and Iran go unchallenged. Americans aren't fooled; less than one–third approve of the job he's doing. If this administration isn't the worst yet, said Cragg Hines in the Houston Chronicle, it's hard to see whose is. During his one, contentious term, even Andrew Johnson managed to buy Alaska.

David Shribman

Pittsburgh Post–Gazette

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