By the Maui Curmudgeon (39th in a 43-part series)
How do the U.S. Presidents stack up? I thought I’d find out by reading biographies of all 42 presidents, in the order of their administrations. Here are briefly the pros and cons of my discoveries, the interesting bits, and how I’d rank him. For comparison, I give you the 1982 Murray-Blessing ranking, a survey of hundreds of leading historians who ranked each president by number. This survey is the gold standard of presidential rankings and is most cited when this kind of thing needs bringing up in media.
JIMMY CARTER: 1977-1981 ~ 39th U.S. President
A noble failure, Jimmy Carter tried to pick up the pieces of the federal government after the debacle of Richard Nixon’s crimes and Jerry Ford’s pardon of him. He did so in the midst of rising fuel prices, an oil embargo, and the 20th century’s first large scale resurgence of violent muslim terrorism – the taking of hostages at the U.S. Embassy in Teheran. Despite all that, it took a consumate liar and idiot (Ronald Reagan) – someone a majority of American’s could see themselves in – to defeat him.
Micromanaged – and therefore mismanaged – so much: from the federal budget to the congressional hearing about it, fiscal policy to citizen attitude (“there is a malaise”), even the aborted rescue attempt in Iran for the hostages.
He failed to convince the country that many of its problems were the result of the new age the country had entered, one of limits. In that, while he was far ahead of his time, he made many American’s scoff at the suggestion – America had no limits. It was great and would be greater, and the bigger things were, the better. Reagan fed this illusion.
Brought Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat, from Israel and Egypt, together to begin peace talks. It’s the one peace agreement between Israel and an Arab state which has held – since that time, not so much as a skirmish has broken out between the two countries.
Carter won the Nobel Peace prize in 2002.
Murray-Blessing Rank: 25th (and the last president to be ranked in the scale, as the poll was taken during Reagan’s first term.)
My Score: 25%
Keeping Faith: Memoirs of a President by Jimmy Carter