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The Worst Ex-President ^ | 5/06/04 | Jamie Glazov

Posted on 05/06/2004 1:25:16 AM PDT by kattracks

Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Steven Hayward, the F. K. Weyerhaeuser Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and Senior Fellow at the Pacific Research Institute. He is the author of the new book The Real Jimmy Carter: How Our Worst Ex-President Undermines American Foreign Policy, Coddles Dictators and Created the Party of Clinton and Kerry.
Welcome to Frontpage Interview, Mr. Hayward. It is a pleasure to have you with us.
Hayward: Always fun to be on the Frontpage!
Why, after all this time, should we be taking another look at Jimmy Carter?

Hayward: Two reasons.  First, Carter has somehow managed to acquire the image, even among many conservatives who ought to know better, as "America's finest ex-president."  In fact, he should be regarded as America's worst ex-president (though Bill Clinton has a long time yet to make his own bid for the title) for the way he has meddled ruinously in the foreign affairs of the nation, especially North Korea.  Second, what might be called "Carterism"—a sentimental, neopacifist view of the world—has come to define the core ideology of Democratic party liberalism today. 

FP: Are we witnessing the decline of the Democratic Party?


Hayward: Yes I think so. The Democratic Party has been in long-term decline since it lost its nerve in the mid-1960s and began caving in by degrees to its far left wing.  People today forget, for example, that its most prominent liberals in the early 1970s like Hubert Humphrey, Edmund Muskie, and even Tip O'Neill, all expressed strong opposition to abortion on demand, yet today no Democrat dares voice any deviation from the radical feminist line.  Carter was initially thought in 1976 to be a bulwark against this leftist slide--he had, after all, opposed McGovern in 1972--but he proved to be a vessel that ratified rather than resisted the Democrats' slide further to the left.


FP: What made you decide to write about Carter?
Hayward: I got sick and tired of hearing people describe Carter as "our finest ex-President."  The same statecraft that generated his ruinous presidency has informed his post-presidential politics. If he had just stuck with building homes with Habitat for Humanity, he might deserve the accolade as our best ex-president.  But he doesn't.


FP: Why don’t we start with Carter's general record. Give us a brief laundry list of his failures.
Hayward: He was a disaster on the economy, blaming high inflation, for example, on the character of the American people.  But by far his worst failing was in foreign policy.  His human rights policy led to human rights disasters in Iran and Nicaragua, and emboldened the Soviet Union to extend its reach further into the third world.  The fruits of the Iran disaster are still very much with us today.  The fall of Iran set in motion the advance of radical Islam and the rise of terrorism that culminated in September 11.  If we had stuck by the Shah or his successors, the history of the last 25 years in the Middle East would have been very different (and the Iranian people would have been better off, too).  For starters, the Soviet Union would have hesitated greatly over invading Afghanistan
in 1979.

FP: Yes, Carter facilitated the coming to power of Marxists in Nicaragua and Islamist despots in Iran, Both of the new tyrannies by far surpassed the brutality of their predecessors. Meanwhile, by letting the Soviets know he wouldn’t lift a finger if they invaded Afghanistan, Carter spawned a war that ultimately saw one million dead Afghans, five million displaced, and a situation of evil that nurtured the Islamic hatred and militancy that ultimately turned on the West and gave us 9/11. How is it that a man who fertilized the soil in which so much evil grew remains completely unchastened?


Hayward: Carter is clearly intelligent in the SAT-score sense of the word, but he seems utterly incapable of learning anything from experience.  Even Neville Chamberlain, the arch-appeaser of England in the 1930s, eventually came around about the Nazis, but Carter and liberals like him can't be shaken from their sentimental view of the world, even by something as stark as 9/11.

FP: So what do you think it is in Carter’s personality and ideology that engendered his disastrous record?
Hayward: Carter is a mixture of neo-Kantianism—that is, the philosophical view that your good intentions outweigh the practical consequences of your actions and words—and left-wing Christian pacifism that believes the use of force is always wrong.  Although Carter, like most liberals, says that the use of force is always to be available as "the last resort," in practice Carter would never reach "the last resort."  There is always one more negotiation to be held, one more appeal to the United Nations, etc.  In one sentence, you might say that while Ronald Reagan believed in "peace through strength," Carter and other liberals like Kerry believe in "peace through talk."  You'd think they'd have learned from history by now, but no.


FP: When you point out that Carter and other liberals like Kerry should have learned from history by now, a serious question comes to mind. Do you think these disastrous Democratic Party leaders such as Carter and Clinton are just plain stupid and naïve? Or is there actually an inner desire to harm and hurt their own country and society? Surely it can’t be a complete coincidence in terms of how much damage they actually do. Is there a malicious agenda in the heart of these individuals toward America? Some kind of inner self-hate?


Hayward: I'd like to think that is it mere stupidity and naiveté.  However I fear it is something worse.  I think there is at work what Malcom Muggeridge and others called "the great liberal death wish."  I recently reread James Burnham's classic 1964 book, Suicide of the West, and it reads like a perfect description of the Carter-Kerry worldview that holds our own national interests in great suspicion and sympathizes with our enemies out of guilt.  Burnham wrote the following: “If he [the liberal] thinks that his country’s weapons or strategy ‘menace peace,’ then Peace, he feels, not his country’s military plans, should take precedence.”  This certainly explains Kerry's voting record on defense and intelligence, and Carter's own policy about arms during his presidency.


FP: Tell us what you think of Carter winning the Nobel Prize.
Hayward: Carter panted after the Nobe Peace Prize for years, seeing it as a means of gaining official redemption for his humiliation at the hands of the voters in 1980.  He lobbied quietly behind the scenes for years to get the prize, and finally met with success in 2002 when the left-wing Nobel Prize committee saw an opportunity to use Carter as a way of attacking President Bush and embarrassing the United States.  The head of the Nobel Prize committee openly admitted that this was their motivation in selecting Carter.  Any other ex-president would have refused to be a part of such an obvious anti-American intrigue, but not Jimmy.  Here we should observe that Carter conceives himself much more as a citizen of the world than as a citizen of the United States, and I think it is highly revealing that Carter is most popular overseas in those nations that hate America the most, such as Syria, where they lined the streets cheering for Carter when he visited.


FP: Yes, we had Syrians cheering for Carter and now our Islamist enemies are rooting for Kerry. I’ll be honest, I am horrified at the idea of Kerry winning the election and overseeing the War on Terror. This is a guy that appears to believe that people like Osama just need understanding and that those who hate us only do so because of what we do, and not because of who and what we actually are: free people.


Does Kerry have a chance in winning? How tragic will it be if he does?


Hayward: It is hard to predict this far ahead of the election, with the Iraq situation portrayed as volatile by our perverse news media.  What this election will tell is whether the electorate remains as serious-minded about foreign affairs as it was during the Cold War, when a Democrat could not win the White House unless he seemed sufficiently robust on foreign policy. 


People forget today that Carter ran to the right of Gerald Ford on foreign policy in 1976, attacking Kissinger and detente and even quoting approvingly Ronald Reagan in one TV spot he ran in the South.  But then of course Carter lurched in the opposite direction once in office.  I think a majority of voters today will see that Kerry is essentially frivolous or worse on foreign policy.  If I am wrong about the soundness of a majority of voters, then Kerry will have a chance of winning.


FP: Let us suppose that you were invited to a political history conference in which the top scholars were asked to rate Carter as a President from a scale of 1-10 (10 being a superb president, 0 being an absolute disaster) and then to give a short verdict on his presidency and legacy, what would you say?

Hayward: He would get a zero.  He has already been identified as such.  Nathan Miller, author of The Star-Spangled Men: America's Ten Worst Presidents, ranks Carter number one among the worst.  Miller wrote that “Electing Jimmy Carter president was as close as the American people have ever come to picking a name out of the phone book and giving him the job.” I concur.  Everyone old enough recalls the high inflation under Carter, and his foreign record was just as bad.  Henry Kissinger summarized it this way: “The Carter administration has managed the extraordinary feat of having, at one and the same time, the worst relations with our allies, the worst relations with our adversaries, and the most serious upheavals in the developing world since the end of the Second World War."


FP: Thank you Mr. Hayward, our time is up. It was a privilege to speak with you.


Hayward: My pleasure Jamie.




I welcome all of our readers to get in touch with me if they have a good idea/contact for a guest for Frontpage Interview. Email me at

Previous Interviews:

Kenneth Timmerman

Victor Davis Hanson

Ion Mihai Pacepa

Phyllis Chesler

Debra Dickerson

Richard Perle and David Frum

John Kekes

Robert Baer

Robert Dornan

Paul Driessen

Stephen F. Hayes

Andrew Sullivan 

Richard Pipes

Rachel Ehrenfeld

Ann Coulter

Laurie Mylroie

Michael Ledeen

Daniel Pipes

Christopher Hitchens

John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr

Kenneth Timmerman

Jamie Glazov is Frontpage Magazine's managing editor. He holds a Ph.D. in History with a specialty in Soviet Studies. He edited and wrote the introduction to David Horowitz’s new book Left Illusions. He is also the co-editor (with David Horowitz) of the new book The Hate America Left and the author of Canadian Policy Toward Khrushchev’s Soviet Union (McGill-Queens University Press, 2002) and 15 Tips on How to be a Good Leftist. To see his previous symposiums, interviews and articles Click Here. Email him at

TOPICS: Editorial; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: carter; clinton; jimmycarter; kerry; killerrabbit; worstpresident
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1 posted on 05/06/2004 1:25:16 AM PDT by kattracks
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To: kattracks
Read later thx 4 post
2 posted on 05/06/2004 1:32:27 AM PDT by Phyto Chems (What part of "illegal" don't they understand... :-)))
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To: kattracks
I have been waiting for an article like this!
Carter is responsible for so many of our troubles.
Truly a dangerous, meddlesome man.
He deserves to be ridiculed and brought down from
his lofty "habitat" perch and "Jimmy Carter Center
for whatever he calls it"
Damn shame his passport can't be pulled.

3 posted on 05/06/2004 1:36:24 AM PDT by onyx (Kerry' s a Veteran, but so were Lee Harvey Oswald, Timothy McVeigh and Benedict Arnold)
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To: kattracks
LBJ was worse than Carter. Listen to the tapes. He committed over a half million of troops as a holding action so he could enact his notion of civil rights and "the Great Society". The "Great Society" was a flop, and our current "War on Terrorism" descends from the loss in Vietnam. Our enemies were certain we would bug out.
4 posted on 05/06/2004 1:38:18 AM PDT by neverdem (Xin loi min oi)
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To: kattracks
Carter, despite all of his "book learnin'" is a simplistic moron. We thought the Dems had reached rock bottom when he was elected - until Clinton showed up. IMO, in the final analysis, history will be hard-pressed to break the looming tie between Clinton and Carter for the title "Worst Ex-President EVER".
5 posted on 05/06/2004 2:03:30 AM PDT by DustyMoment (Repeal CFR NOW!!)
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To: DustyMoment
Right. The long term damage Clinton did to our country is impossible to fathom. Carter's economic disaster was quickly cured.
6 posted on 05/06/2004 2:29:10 AM PDT by Arthur Wildfire! March (Backhoe's Gorelick links:
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To: kattracks
If there's one thing the democrats are excellent in, it is in the redefining of their abysmal presidents.

Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, Clinton, even Truman, started or aided in disasterous wars and disasterous foreign policy. Yet the media worships at their feet.

An argument could be made that they are collectively responsible for all the America hating that goes on in the world today.
7 posted on 05/06/2004 2:39:47 AM PDT by tkathy (nihilism: absolute destructiveness toward the world at large and oneself)
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To: neverdem
Good point about Johnson. He was far worse than Carter. But let's look at Clinton and recent events. Johnson brought us the Great Society, the War against Poverty. Clinton brought us perfidity, Chinagate, and Romanesque politics. He jaded the military the way no other president has. Rush seemed to hint at that yesterday. [My mom taped him. I'm keeping that tape. Yesterday was a Rush classic.]

Clinton brought our military "Don't ask, don't tell." Jostlin' Elders tried to normalise what they made the prisoners do there. Having female guards increased erotic tensions. Female guards seeing naked men was unheard of at one time in this country. It's sick. All that leftist dogma is jading our military. I'm jaded myself, having been raised in a family of democrats. So I found the entire thing funny. But even I can see how dangerous it is to keep pushing our military into Sodom and Gamorrah.

Here's the weird part: the scriptures pointed out prior to Iraqi Freedom, Babylon will be Sin City of the world. That is one reason a Biblical scholar would have been optimistic about our chances of success. But it's sad, isn't it? This debaucherizes that entire nation. The young women there shouldn't be put on trial. Clinton should.

8 posted on 05/06/2004 2:44:41 AM PDT by Arthur Wildfire! March (Backhoe's Gorelick links:
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To: DustyMoment
You are correct it's a toss up. However, Clinton is morally corrupt, where Carter was simply naive.
9 posted on 05/06/2004 3:31:51 AM PDT by Shane
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To: kattracks
When my liberal siblings start that "Jimmy Carter is the finest ex-President ever" stuff, I simply point out that my wife and I, by voting for Ronald Reagan, were the only ones in the family who recognized Jimmah's potential for that role, and did all that we could to help him achieve the position of ex-Pres at his first opportunity. That shuts 'em right up.
10 posted on 05/06/2004 4:42:30 AM PDT by Reo
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To: Shane
Carter has proved over the years after his presidency to be more than naive. He's egotistical, rigid, anti-American, bitter, cantankerous, and probably a bad lover in bed since he boasts about that too. He's done more damage than any president in toto. Johnson at least had the good grace to quit and be quiet in Texas in his later years.

And Clinton's damage will never be fully known with his placement of Hazel O'leary in charge of the keys to the crown jewels. What was that report the other day about Chinese diplomats trying to run a blockade near a secret installation? Was that frustration at not being able to get our secrets the easy way?

11 posted on 05/06/2004 4:44:50 AM PDT by Thebaddog (Who's that poodle?)
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To: kattracks; dirtboy; PhiKapMom; EggsAckley
Ping to read later.

This title caught my eye in Borders; I loved it! I said, "Yeah, exactly. About time someone wrote about it."

12 posted on 05/06/2004 4:46:59 AM PDT by BibChr ("...behold, they have rejected the word of the LORD, so what wisdom is in them?" [Jer. 8:9])
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To: kattracks
Bump for later reading!
13 posted on 05/06/2004 4:49:01 AM PDT by F-117A
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To: F14 Pilot
14 posted on 05/06/2004 4:57:32 AM PDT by Pan_Yans Wife (It is when you give of yourself that you truly give. --Kahlil Gibran)
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To: neverdem
LBJ is my pick for the worst. Carter was undoubtedly a nimrod, and he easily ranks in the top five. LBJ's "great society", his absolute debacle of a Vietnam strategy, and his cheer-leading for blatantly gerrymandered congressional districts in the name of "civil rights" shoots him right to the top. If not for LBJ, we would not be paying so many welfare queens to sit at home, watching Oprah and eating bonbons.
15 posted on 05/06/2004 5:01:50 AM PDT by gsrinok
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To: kattracks
Good find Kat. Thanks.

Hayward ...."Nathan Miller, author of The Star-Spangled Men: America's Ten Worst Presidents, ranks Carter number one among the worst. Miller wrote that “Electing Jimmy Carter president was as close as the American people have ever come to picking a name out of the phone book and giving him the job.”

And here I thought I was the only one who despised that pathetic moron.

16 posted on 05/06/2004 5:09:18 AM PDT by G.Mason (A President is best judged by the enemies he makes when he has really hit his stride…Max Lerner)
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To: kattracks; All
I remind everyone that the only reason Carter won against a relatively weak Gerald Ford in 1976 was that fundamentalist and evangelical Christian clergy and laity strongly supported him. He was regarded as "one of us", a born-again Christian who would return the country to a better moral compass.

I was on active duty at Ft. Sill, Okalhoma, during most of the 1976 campaign, and I heard literally dozens of young officers, who had been strong Nixon/Ford supporters and hated liberal Democrats, tell me how they were voting for Carter because he was a born-again Christian, and their pastors had assured them he had the right stuff.

I was appalled then, appalled by his presidency, and have always found him an appalling man: an incompetent president, though a highly intelligent man, who pushed morality out of one side of his mouth (telling unmarried federal employees living together they'd better get married -- remember that?) and pushing a leftist agenda in foreign and domestic policy out of the other side of his mouth. He was personally a sanctimonious prig who never met a leftist swine he didn't like. His weakness precipitated the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the same way Kennedy's weakness in his first summit with Kruschev precipitated the Cuban missle crisis. About the only thing he showed vigor in was undermining the Shah of Iran -- thanks for Islamofascism , Jimmmy!

It is ironic, to say the least, that Carter, the most openly religious president in the 20th century and the first to describe himself as a "born-again" Christian, was most responsible for the rise of Islamofascism in Iran, and then in Afghanistan as a response to the Soviet invasion his weakness made possible.

17 posted on 05/06/2004 5:14:19 AM PDT by CatoRenasci (Ceterum Censeo Arabiam Esse Delendam -- Forsan et haec olim meminisse iuvabit)
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To: tkathy
".......even Truman, started or aided in disasterous wars and disasterous foreign policy. Yet the media worships at their feet."
I was in agreement until you threw in Truman's name. Truman was hammered by the liberal newspapers of the time.
18 posted on 05/06/2004 5:29:26 AM PDT by em2vn
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To: DustyMoment
'"IMO, in the final analysis, history will be hard-pressed to break the looming tie between Clinton and Carter for the title "Worst Ex-President EVER".'

Just one problem to note. I agree entirely with you but, unfortunately, guys like Michael Moore write the history books, so forget about honesty ever creeping into a history book.
19 posted on 05/06/2004 5:46:53 AM PDT by Chu Gary (USN Intel guy 1967 - 1970)
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To: kattracks
Hayward: I got sick and tired of hearing people describe Carter as "our finest ex-President."

Man, I understand that feeling. After the initial gag reflex, I just have to bite my tongue when somebody says that. Anybody who says that Carter is "a fine ex-President" is too ignorant, stupid, or far-left to bother discussing the matter.

Sure, Habitat for Humanity can be commended for some good works for poor folks. Carter has a winner there and has pumped it for all the photo ops and publicity he can. But otherwise, he has been a thoroughly awful ex-President.
20 posted on 05/06/2004 7:51:40 AM PDT by RBroadfoot
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