Monday, December 12, 2016

Jimmy Carter: A Great Man, terrible president

James Earl Carter Jr., known today as Jimmy Carter, was a stellar human being, but a terrible president. In fact, some marked him as being one of the worse presidents of all time until Barack Obama became President.

Even today, as liberals riot in the streets, and cry on Facebook about the victory of Donald Trump, Carter said that Trump needs our "support and prayers" as he prepares to take the office of President of the United States.

Carter is right: Trump does need our prayers. So this is another testament to how great of a human being Carter really is. What plagued Carter throughout his career in politics was his liberal view on issues.

He ran for President in 1976, the year of the American Bicentennial. Gerald R. Ford was the then sitting President, a man who was the only person to become President who was neither elected president nor vice president. After Watergate, and after failure in Vietnam, Ford managed to restore faith in American government.

During the election of 1976, Carter managed to barely defeat Ford. He would then go on to wound the spirit of the nation restored by Ford. This would work to the advantage of the Conservative movement, which was waiting, salivating almost, at a chance to take over the Presidency. Carter was such a failure that Ronald Reagan would defeat him during the election of 1980 in what would become one of the biggest landslide victories in American's glorious history.

He was born October 1, 1924, in Plains, Georgia, to a peanut farmer. He left Plains to serve as a naval officer for seven years. He then entered state politics in Georgia. In 1966, he ran for Georgia governor and failed. In 1970, he again ran for Georgia governor and this time he succeeded.

In 1980, he was nominated for President by the democrat party. With Water F. Mondale as his running mate, he defeated Gerald Ford by an electoral vote of 297 to 241 and a popular vote of 50.1% to 48%.

It's possible that the only reason he was chosen by the people to be the 39th President of the United States was because of Ford's failures more so than his abilities. That said, he was elected as an outsider to clean up Washington. Here is what happened during the Jimmy Carter Presidency.

1. He had dinner with the Shah of Iran. The Shah was a dictator thug, but he also ran a secular government, supported the United States, supported equality for women, and recognized the Nation of Israel. Carter's visit created animosity between Iranian rebel students and the Shah. Carter then sent a letter to the Shah reminding him of the importance of political rights and freedom. In return, the Shah released 350 fundamentalist prisoners. They were then involved in an Islamic Revolution and the Iran Hostage Crisis. Recognizing the buildup of Islamic Rebel forces, the Shah asked Carter for help, and Carter refused. The U.N. suggested that Carter help the Shah to stop the revolution. Carter's State Department should help the Revolutionaries transition to a new government. Carter took neither advice, and the result was the takeover of Iran by radical Islamist thug dictators that hate the United States, have no respect for women, and refuse to accept Israel as a viable nation. This single foreign policy failure is often cited as spearheading much of the turmoil that has occurred in the Middle East since then.

2.  The Grand Ayatollah took power in February of 1979 and murdered over 20,000 pro-Western Iranians who were held by the Sha as political prisoners. The Sha came to America to seek medical treatment for Cancer, and no sooner had this happened, the revolutionaries stormed the American Embassy and took about 20 American diplomats hostage. This lead to the Iranian Hostage Crisis. In a failed rescue attempt that failed miserably, resulting in 30 soldiers getting killed when their helicopter crashed. The hostages were not released until the day Ronald Reagan was inaugurated. This may have been one of the main reasons Carter lost in a landslide to Reagan.

3.  Carter's foreign policy failures gave confidence to the Russian leader. Carter signed a treaty with the Russian leader, Leonid Brezhnev, and trusted he would abide by it. Brezhnev then turned around and invaded Afghanistan in an attempt to spread Communism to the area. So, so much for the treaty. Rusian then planned for a communist takeover of Iran and Pakistan. Carter's only response was to boycott the 1980 Olympic games in Russia. Afghanistan soldiers (which included Osama Bin Laden) held their own against the Russians, and this gave them great confidence. So, Carter may also have given rise to the man who would be responsible for the greatest terrorist attack in U.S. history on 9-11-01.

4.  The new government in Iran lead to the Iran-Iraq war. Half a million people died during this war, including thousands of deaths caused by the Chemical weapons of the Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein. Saddam would continue to build his military, and this gave him the ability and confidence to attempt a takeover of Kuwait in 1990, leading to U.S. operation to liberate Kuwait from the Iranians, called Desert Storm.

5.  The nation faced an economic crisis that ended up turning into a recession that Ronald Reagan inherited when he defeated Carter in 1980. The crisis involved both a high unemployment rate and a high inflation rate, something that began during the Nixon years, and that Ford had also attempted to remedy and failed.

6.  Carter was a liberal who believed that much of the animosity toward the United States was because we were far too arrogant, and one of the ways to remedy this situation was to slash military spending. This resulted in the Carter administration gutting and weakening the military. Despite the down economy, enlistments in the military were low. People already enlisted in the military were leaving at a rapid rate once their time was up. This and the invasion of Afghanistan caused Carter to reinstated young men between the ages of 18-20 to register for a potential draft (this was known as Selective Service.) When I turned 18 in 1988, I had to go to the Post Office to sign up. It was the law.

7.  So, apparently, he was too trusting. He was also too indecisive. He was also a poor public speaker. He was, however, a very nice guy.

8.  In 1979, he signed the Department of Education Organization Act, which creates the Department of Education. This was done in an attempt to improve education, although what happened is it put eight people who sit on a board the ability to control what kids learn. This 8 member board has been traditionally liberal and made it so public schools became liberal indoctrination centers, more so than places where kids were educated. This resulted in our Education System tanking from the #1 public school system in 1992 to 18th in the world among the 36 industrialized nations. This is despite the Federal Government greatly increasing funds so the U.S. is the 4th leading spender in education by 2016. So, Carter is almost singlehandedly responsible for the decline of our public school system. In 1979, parents and teachers were responsible for what kids learned, and we were #1 in the world.

9.  He was poor at negotiating with Congress, even though both houses has strong democrat majorities. He wisely vetoed bills he believed would cause wasteful spending. Many of these bills would have resulted in pork barrel spending, of which would have resulted in wasteful spending. However, his vetoes angered many establishment democrats, and many were overridden by Congress. Perhaps also souring relations with Congress was his failure to compromise on his ideas. So even though he was a democrat with a democratically controlled Congress, he failed to get many of his campaign promises and ideas through Congress.

10.  He failed to effectively deal with the energy crisis. Oil prices were $10 a barrel during the early 1970s and skyrocketed to $100 a barrel by the late 1970s (adjusted for inflation). This was due in part to the crisis in the middle east that he caused, and also due to Nixon's getting rid of the gold standard.During a 1979 speech, he seemed to scold the American people rather than suggest any policies remedy the energy crisis. He told people that the needed to drive slow, purchase smaller cars, set thermostats lower, and do without Christmas lights. These are things that you never tell Americans because in America we can make anything possible. With oil prices so high, this caused oil companies to raise prices, resulting in gas prices paid at the pump. This worsened inflation.

11. To control oil prices and end stagflation, he hired Paul Volcker as Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board on July 27, 1979. Volcker raised interest rates to 15%, the highest in U.S. history. He also tightened the money supply, and this forced businesses to lower prices. Higher interest rates resulted in a consumer panic, especially in those who invested in housing, and this resulted in an intentional recession. To offset this, businesses were forced to lower prices. It seemingly worked, although to the disadvantage of the Carter Presidency. Volcker ultimately lowered interest rates in 1982 and flooded the economy with money, but too late for Carter, as he lost the 1980 election to Ronald Reagan. Some also credit this tactic for the Reagan economic boom that would follow, although I wouldn't go that far.

12. Carter cannot be blamed for stagflation (rising inflation and unemployment at the same time), which began in 1965. He also seemingly inherited a recession, seemingly the same one he handed off to Reagan rather than dealing with himself. He tried to deal with it. He actually had a campaign promise to give $50 to every taxpayer with the hopes they would spend it and stimulate the economy that way. This promise never materialized, and probably wouldn't have done anything anyway. He also wanted to both raise taxes and honed in spending, and those were rejected by the democratically controlled Congress.

13.  Some give him credit for trucking, railroads and airline deregulation, which was signed by Carter in 1978. However, this actually started under Nixon and gained steam under Ford. However, Carter did support the bill. This was supported by consumers and resulted in an improved market. Government regulations on trucking and airlines limited prices and limited what the market could do, particularly on routes. Deregulation gave airline and trucking industry more opportunities to expand, create their own routes, and this resulted in more competition and lower prices. Air Transport Association. Robert Crandall and Jerry Ellig (1997) estimated that airline prices have fallen 44.9%, saving Americans $19.4 billion per year. Due to lower prices, the air travel industry has "exploded" since then, and the number of people traveling has doubled since then. So, airline and trucking deregulation was a definite good that came out of the Carter administration, although some believe that he alone shouldn't get credit. For the sake of this article, I will give him credit.

14.  When most people think of universal healthcare, they think of Obamacare or Romneycare, although these were not the firs efforts to create a government run healthcare system. We have Hillarycare of the early 1990s, and we also have Jimmy Carter's attempt to create a universal healthcare system in 1977. His system even had support from some republicans, although it was ditched by democrat insiders, such as Ted Kennedy. However, some blame this failure on Carter's poor leadership abilities. Thankfully it didn't get anywhere, because Lord knows how badly Obamacare failed. He also had ideas for reforming welfare and lowering hospital costs, although those ideas also failed to gain steam. Of course, in all due fairness, these ideas were forced to take a backseat to his attempts to lower inflation and unemployment.

That Jimmy Carter was a failure as a president cannot go without saying. He is personally responsible for much of the turmoil that occurred in the world since his Presidency. It's amazing vowhat a failure he was, especially given that he had a democratically controlled Congress to work with.

By 1980, many people saw him as a weak leader, and they saw that foreign countries had little respect for the U.S. They were ready for a new leader. He lost in a landslide to Conservative Ronald Reagan.

And, while it's tempting to put Obama as the worse President ever, I have a hard time pulling Carter out of that spot.

References:
  • Jimmy Carter, whitehouse.gov, https://www.whitehouse.gov/1600/presidents/jimmycarter, accessed 11/13/16
  • Jimmy Carter, conservatopia, http://www.conservapedia.com/Jimmy_Carter, accessed 11/13/16
  • Miller, Paul, "Jimmy Carter Can Only Blame Himself," The American Thinker, http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2007/05/jimmy_carter_can_only_blame_hi.html, accessed 11/13/16
  • Randolph, Larry, "Was the USA ever No. 1 in Education?" Historynet, http://www.historynet.com/was-the-usa-ever-no-1-in-education.htm, accessed 11/15/16
  • Smith, Fred L, "Airline Deregulation," Library of Economics and Liberty, http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/AirlineDeregulation.html, accessed 11/16/16
  • Jimmy Carter on Healthcare, ontheissues.org, http://www.ontheissues.org/Celeb/Jimmy_Carter_Health_Care.htm, accessed 11/16/16
  • Myth: Carter ruined economy, Reagan saved it, http://www.huppi.com/kangaroo/L-carterreagan.htm, accessed 11/16/16