Sunday, March 26, 2006

Not Now John

It fell to John Derbyshire to write National Review's obligatory hatchet job of Jimmy Carter's book. Derbyshire, after sputtering a bit, makes his editors proud.

As for the sputtering:

Now, there is a case to be made that some, at least, of that administration’s misfortunes were not Jimmy Carter’s fault. The man was elected president of an angry, unhappy country, afflicted with major systemic problems and confronted by bold, ruthless enemies. "Stagflation," with which the Carter presidency will be forever associated, was ten years in the bud...Let’s face it, the guy had some bad breaks.

This is true. The economic "malaise" Carter largely inherited was the inevitable result of a) LBJ's and RMN's irresponsible spending on a stupid foriegn war (Vietnam)-- it was not, thousands of windy, witless reactionary diatribes to the contrary, because of LBJ's social progams -- and b) RMN's and GRF's stupid and cynical meddling with the economy (remember "Whip Inflation Now"?). Derbyshire, naturally, doesn't go into this much, or really lay blame where it is due, but still, considering his and his editors' desire to smear Carter, it was nice of him to include "evidence to the contrary".


He is, after all, a very American figure. No other nation but ours could have produced this particular combination of dogged industriousness, earnest religiosity, public spirit, and shameless self-promotion. In externals, there is even something admirable about the man. He served his country, in the military and in public life, very conscientiously. He practiced business with modest success. (I have never felt happy with Republican scoffing at Carter as “the peanut farmer.” What is wrong with being a peanut farmer?) His rise to the highest levels of office was driven at least in part by an earnest desire to do right by his fellow citizens. He claims adherence to a studious and generous style of Christian belief. His private life has been spotless, his administration down at the low end of the corruption scale.

Yes, yes -- but you know Derbyshire's other jackboot will drop, and so it does:

Very American. Yet it often happens that the purest breed of dog, with all the "points" perfectly developed, is sickly and ill-tempered in personality. So with Carter...Probably Jimmy Carter was never a very nice person. "Humorless grind" was my own first impression of the man, when he showed up on the national stage...a very nasty piece of work indeed, a peevish liar filled with resentment against his country and those non-Carters she has stupidly chosen to elect...Jimmy Carter is an awfully hard man to like.

Right. No mention of Carter's triumph at Camp David. No mention of the reason for the country's anger (one Richard Milhous Nixon, Republican and reigning Lord of Corruption until the advent of Dubya). No mention of the liars, often within Carter's own party, who menaced him so, as they continue to menace the country and the world.

Derbyshire's main objection seems to be that Jimmy Carter is as polarly opposite George W. Bush as possible: Christian instead of Manichean, indefatiguable rather than indolent, sober rather than brash, honest instead of corrupt, intelligent (Carter was a nuclear engineer) instead of clueless fucktard-stupid ("nucular"?), conscientious rather than ruthless, courageous (US Navy) instead of chickenshit (AWOL). As Carter is so unlike Bush, of course it's impossible for Derbyshire to admire the 39th President.

John Derbyshire's and National Review's Dear Leader, Dubya, clearly exhibits His value-system and His personality traits -- He's a "straight-shooter" even when He lies through His teeth, which is rather often. As He is a wholesale good, so too are his traits (as are, naturally, His minions -- Glenn Greenwald's "Cult of Bush" concept); and anyone who is His opposite must therefore be a wholesale Evil. Hence, Jimmy Carter must be called as they see him: rotten to the core.

If you want to read a different sort of assessment of Jimmy Carter's Presidency, read this and, far less impressively, this.