Was Jimmy Carter a good president?
via AP

Was Jimmy Carter a good president?

#JimmyWasTheBest
#CarterWasAFailure
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Historians have long debated the legacy of Jimmy Carter, the 39th President of the United States. Some argue he was the best person to ever serve in the Oval Office―a man of principle and an authentic outsider with a huge heart, as evident in his post-presidential actions. But others say his presidency was an abysmal failure defined by unsuccessful policies, a botched hostage crisis, and a bad economy. The former peanut farmer may be a good guy, but he was not a good president. What do you think? 🥜

THE VOTES ARE IN!
#JimmyWasTheBest
57%
#CarterWasAFailure
43%

Jimmy Carter's presidency has been debated for years. Some believe Carter was a weak president who failed to accomplish anything significant while in office, but others argue Carter was one of the first authentic outsiders to enter Washington. His approach to politics was unique and defined his legacy. As Johnathan Allen writes in Vox:

He was the real deal, an authentic outsider. And not just in terms of Washington politics. Carter had spent his life as a loner, hoping to bring people around to his way of thinking by dint of example and argument. If he was right, others would see it.

Above all else, Carter was a good man responsible for restoring integrity after the likes of Nixon and Johnson.

For the most part, though, Carter's presidency was defined by restoring integrity to the Oval Office.
Mondale once described the administration's accomplishments this way: "We told the truth, we obeyed the law, we kept the peace." To that, Carter wrote, it should be added that "we championed human rights."

Ronald L. Feinman argues in Raw Story that conservatives have tried to trash the legacy of Carter:

Carter has been recognized as an outstanding former President... But Jimmy Carter has also lived through the longest assault by his critics and enemies of any former President of the United States.
The average American has heard and seen vicious depictions of Jimmy Carter as the worst President of modern times... The stereotype remains valid in the minds of conservative think tanks and spokesmen, right wing talk show hosts on radio, and Fox News Channel propaganda. One would think that Jimmy Carter was a total disaster with no redeeming qualities in his four years in the White House.

In actuality, Feinman argues Carter accomplished a lot as president: the Camp David Accords, the Panama Canal Treaty and his advocacy for human rights were all major achievements.

Carter transformed American foreign policy values, albeit briefly, by holding military dictatorships accountable for human rights, and cutting foreign assistance when it was not promoted.
...it is time to acknowledge that Jimmy Carter also had major accomplishments that need to be known far and wide as part of painting a complete picture of the Carter record in the Presidency.

But even those who acknowledge Carter's impeccable character still argue he was a failure as a president. Alan Singer writes in the Huffington Post:

Jimmy Carter is one of my two favorite ex-presidents of all-time... Since leaving office Carter has been a Nobel Prize recipient; launched campaigns against debilitating disease in Third World countries; promoted democratic elections around the world, personally helped build housing for the poor as part of Habitat for Humanity; and searched for ways to achieve a peaceful resolution of the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

Despite his post-presidential actions, Singer argues Carter was a "terrible president" while in office.

But this great man was a terrible president, largely because he was so inept as a politician and leader. His list of negative accomplishments includes: a failed energy policy with long gas lines and his appeal to Americans to wear sweaters; no discernible economic policy during a period of high inflation and unemployment; admitting the dethroned Shah of Iran into the United States, contributing to a hostage crisis with Iran that he terribly mismanaged; and secretly arming Islamic Mujahideen forces in Afghanistan to fight against a Soviet-backed government.

Some critics even go as far as to question the "good guy" persona so many associate with Carter. Joshua Muravchik argues in Commentary:

Carter was initially cold to the subject of human rights. His 1975 book, "Why Not the Best?," issued as a launching pad for his presidential campaign, makes no mention of it. Nor did he utter a word about human rights during the 1976 primaries. It was only in the course of hammering out the Democratic party’s platform that his interest was kindled. By that time, with the nomination in hand, Carter’s overriding goal was to unite his fissiparous party for the general election.

Muravchik argues Carter was a political opportunist like everyone else, reversing his position of many of the issues he is applauded for, such as his supposedly enlightened views on race.

Carter presented himself as, in his words, “a local Georgia conservative Democrat . . . basically a redneck.” This formulation was calculated to convey a message about his stand on racial issues: a message of resistance to racial integration, if not of out-and-out racism. He reinforced the same message by making a campaign stop at a whites-only private school, and by promising to invite Alabama Governor George Wallace, the champion of segregation, to address the state legislature.
But no sooner had he won office than he executed his remarkable shift on race, a move that landed him on the cover of Time as the apotheosis of the “new South” and made him a nationally recognized figure.
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