IN DEFENSE OF JIMMY CARTER….David Adesnik is defending Jimmy Carter. I think this is well worth doing since right wing loathing of Carter long ago entered a shadow universe completely unhinged from reality. I have plenty of disagreements with the guy myself, and didn’t vote for him when he ran for reelection in 1980, but I’ve never been able to figure out why conservatives have jumped the shark on Carter in such spectacular fashion.
It’s true that he was a firm noninterventionist, at least for his first three years, but soft on communism? As David points out, Carter was the guy who abandoned the Nixon/Kissinger policy of realpolitik and genuinely hammered the Soviets on human rights ? a policy picked up by Ronald Reagan and used to great effect in the 80s. Carter also approved major new weapons programs during his single term, brokered an important peace agreement in the Middle East, stuck by the Shah longer than even a conservative administration probably would have, and in 1979 approved the most wide ranging covert operation against the Soviets in the history of the CIA. If the Desert One rescue mission hadn’t failed, he might have been reelected in 1980.
This isn’t any kind of fiery defense of Carter, just a plea for a bit of balance. Unfortunately, the mere fact that he tries to broker peace agreements seems to be enough to send conservatives screaming for their thesauri. I suspect this tells us more about conservatives than it does about Carter.