Over the weekend, Carter broke a cardinal rule of former presidents: to never criticize the sitting president publicly. It's an unspoken rule, and one that has been observed, by and large, by all former presidents. They may critique current POLICY in an interview or op-ed. But they may not criticize the sitting president PERSONALLY ever. Ever.
Until now. Until the 39th president opened his mouth.
Carter said, "I think as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history."
Wow. That takes some nerve, coming from one of the ACTUAL worst presidents in U.S. history. Let's take a short walk down memory lane, shall we?
During Carter's presidency, 53 Americans were taken hostage by the Islamic regime in Iran and held for 444 days, while Carter stood around, impotent. It was only when Ronald Reagan had been elected did the Ayatollah finally fear the United States and release them.
During Carter's presidency, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, allowing our Cold War nemesis to pick up a strategic asset. Once again, Carter stood around, impotent.
During Carter's presidency, double-digit inflation ran rampant. So did sky-high unemployment and rocketing interest rates. The prime rate reached 21.5% at the tail end of Carter's term, the highest under any president. The economy was in freefall. It was a stagflation-driven recession. And again, Carter stood around, impotent.
During Carter's presidency, there were tremendous oil shortages. The energy supply cratered. Once again, Carter stood around, impotent. Except for the cardigan sweater he routinely wore as a way to solve the nation's energy crisis.
During Carter's presidency, America was in such bad shape that he actually ordered the White House Christmas decorations to go dark in 1979 and 1980. Grinch!
Quite a stellar record, no? Time and again, Carter allowed America's enemies to push her around. He behaved like a coward, scared of his own shadow, and unwilling to use America's great strength to stand up to the world's bullies. Sure, he guided the final stages of the Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt. But those discussions---and the heavy diplomatic lifting---began under Richard Nixon and continued through Gerald Ford. Carter could have screwed it up, and to his credit, he didn't.
But one diplomatic success does not offset the long string of dangerous failures. "Are you better off today than you were four years ago?," Reagan famously asked during the 1980 campaign. The answer was a resounding "no," and Reagan defeated Carter in a landslide.
Carter got a lot of criticism for talking about our "national malaise." But he was right: we were in a funk. He just didn't understand that HE was the reason for the funk. It was HIS failure of leadership, HIS demonstrations of weakness, HIS impotence that led to the "malaise." He talked about it like it was somebody's else fault.
You know what they say about people who live in glass houses. This is why Carter tried to backtrack on his comments about Bush, calling them "maybe careless or misinterpreted." They were careless but they weren't misinterpreted. Those comments reflected who Carter is: petty, small-minded, dishonorable.
Bush is far from perfect, but at least he got in the fight against our enemies. He didn't always do it well, but at least he did it. Carter spent his presidency standing around, impotent.