Jimmy Carter has long been a whipping boy for neocons, ultra-cons, ubercons, barking dog conservatives (like O’Reilly, Coulter, Savage, Bennett, Limbaugh and that stubble-headed TV geek that looks like his mom turned him upside down, affixed Mr. Potato Head features to his butt, dressed him up that way and sent him off to school). You know him. He looks like a badly drawn cartoon–his mouth resembles a sideways sphincter with wings…a pouty, GOP toady lookin’ kind of a guy. I can SEE him. Drat! I’ll think of his name. Gimme’ a moment.
I digress. Back to Jimmy Carter. I always respected Carter. Unfortunately, he was a blip in the radar…a mere segue between the likable former Eagle Scout who pardoned the biggest Dick of all (before W) and the “B” movie contract player the right saw fit to deify.
According to this excerpt from the Christian Science Monitor, not typically a bastion of progressive thought but often considered even-handed: “Reagan Republicans disingenuously claimed credit for much of America’s long-range military buildup that helped win the cold war. But it was Carter who proposed deployment of 200 MIRVed MX missiles in hardened silos to counter an unbridled Soviet buildup. (Under Reagan, only 50 were actually deployed.) Cruise missiles and the B-2 Stealth bomber technology were also born under Carter.”
Why does Carter get kicked around so? He’s a genuinely decent sort– too down to earth, too real for DC. Smart, honest, sincere and principled, he’s everything most career beltway bureaucrats are not but precisely what they’d like their constituents to think they are. Carter preached alternative energy decades before most considered or cared about it and his ideas have since become commonplace. At the time, people acted like he was crazy. He also arranged Middle East Peace treaties that remained in force well past his tenure. But the hostage crisis overshadowed all the good he had done. He had appeared ineffective. Reagan promised resolution and reform. Besides, gas cost better than 50 cent a GALLON! FIFTY CENTS!!!
True to script, the rich got richer under Reagan as the poor got poorer. He slashed taxes and social programs, rancorously vilified opportunistic (albeit fictional) “welfare Queens” as the ranks of homeless grew along with our national debt and public subterranean stairwells along Michigan Avenue in Chicago began to reek of urine.
He bullied unions, fired the Air Traffic Controllers, abolished the Fairness Doctrine and set in place the foundation that would provide a platform for Republicans into the new millennium. Of course, we got a war. Sure, as wars go, Granada wasn’t much of one but tell that to those who were injured and died there. “Criticized by the UK, Trinidad and Tobago, Canada and the United Nations General Assembly as “a flagrant violation of international law“, we nevertheless went and won. Defense suppliers made bank as Reagan did his party proud. Reagan’s fiscal house of cards built on junk bonds, “trickle down” (now renamed “supply side” economics and castration of the Federal Government eventually imploded. He exited stage left and in due time (theirs), we found out that his mind had preceded his body by several years.
To follow “the Gipper”, we hired an ex CIA head, who at times forgot that he wasn’t still running the Company. This man had his secrets. Frankly, he scared the s**t out of me. He knew where the bodies were buried. We eventually got another, bigger war, piling on more debt and despite his perennial plea as town crier to legions of GOP faithful for “no new taxes,” Bush senior reneged. Shame…Lying is fine, but to say “no new taxes” and then to tax guarantees a right-winger no second tern.
As returning Desert Storm vets suffered symptoms that stymied superiors and with both the budget and trade deficits peaking at record highs, democrats indeed looked promising. Clinton prevailed and no love lost between them, Carter worked behind the scenes, content to address poverty, becoming an ambassador of sorts. Under Clinton, the economy improved. The long-standing budget deficit dissolved. Things were looking up until the republicans turned Clinton’s character flaws into a crusade that consumed his second term. We all know what happened next.
Back to Mr. Carter and the superb CSM article referenced here, which is worthy of a full read. Oh yeah. I remembered…that stubble headed, pouty, butt-faced GOP toady I mentioned–it’s Glen Beck. I swear, a sideways sphincter with WINGS…much better on radio. Not good, but better.(Thanks, Ween)