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The Real Jimmy Carter

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I recently joined a conservative book club, and because of the generous new membership package, I received a number of books that I wouldn’t have otherwise bought or read. One of these books is The Real Jimmy Carter by Steven F. Hayward.

The reason I wouldn’t have run right out to buy this book is because I always thought Jimmy Carter was a fool, so essentially I believed Steven F. Hayward would just be re-enforcing what I already knew to be true. I was wrong. Jimmy Carter isn’t just a fool; he’s a dangerous fool.

I’m old enough to remember the long lines at gas pumps and the raging inflation of the Carter presidency. I also remember wondering during the time Jimmy Carter served as President of the US how one such dysfunctional family could produce just one smart sibling. Thanks to Steven F. Hayward, I now have my answer to that question. Jimmy Carter never was nor is he now smarter than the rest of his family. He was merely seriously overestimated in the political savvy department.

The Real Jimmy Carter covers the time from when Jimmy Carter was a young man up to the present. We find out why he gave up what may have been a career in the Navy to go home and take over the peanut farm. We learn how he came to be Governor of Georgia and then later went on to become President Of The United States. But this book is more than simply a chronological order of events in Jimmy Carter’s life. It’s a tracking of his thought processes and his strategies. It chronicles his ups and downs, and showcases the fact that there were far more downs than there were ups. We learn who the people are who Jimmy Carter depended upon for advice and direction. And we find out just how little people who had to work with him during his governorship and his presidency really thought of him because of his tactics.

One of the incidents I remember clearly from the Carter presidency was the time Billy Carter, Jimmy’s brother, secured a loan from and went to Libya to meet with Mohammar Qaddafi. Not only was it outrageous that the president’s brother would receive a loan from a country considered to be an enemy of the United States, but Billy received global attention when he relieved himself against a wall in Libya. At the time I thought this was aberrant behavior, and how embarrassing it was for the President of the US to have to put up with this from his own family.

I was wrong. It wasn’t aberrant behavior — not for the Carter family, anyway. Jimmy Carter possesses exactly the same kind of arrogant misdirection his brother and sister suffered from. He just displays it in different forums — like North Korea, Palestine, Syria, and wherever else he pleases. And what Jimmy Carter does reflects upon the country he says he represents. Except that Jimmy Carter’s view of US national security interests are often at odds with whoever happens to be sitting in the Oval Office at the time. Even Bill Clinton had enough of Carter’s antics. Case in point: after Carter came back from his visit to North Korea, the Clinton Administration wouldn’t even meet with him. Still, Carter went to the White House anyway, where no senior member of the Clinton Administration would see him. He had to settle for a tense meeting with one of his own former aides.

Shortly after Jimmy Carter’s “miracle” mission to North Korea, Kim Il Sung died. The joke around the State Department and the White House was that Il Sung died from laughing so hard at negotiating with Jimmy Carter.

I did not, however, see The Real Jimmy Carter as simply one author’s ability to take potshots at someone who stirs up controversy for his thoughtless political behavior. Steven F. Hayward draws upon information from many different sources including a biography here and there that’s either friendly toward or at least uncritical of the Carter Administration.

I don’t think it would be a spoiler to reveal the one very positive thing Jimmy Carter can do. The guy can swing a hammer. His work with Habitat For Humanities has been admirable, and because of his affiliation, this worthy cause has received more attention and funding that it otherwise may have enjoyed. That’s a good thing. It’s just sad that the best thing to be said for a former president is that he really knows how to pound those nails.

I have merely scratched the surface of the story Steven F. Hayward tells in The Real Jimmy Carter. For anyone interested in knowing more about the Carter presidency and the post-presidency, this book is certainly a good place to start.

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About Punditz

  • silly.

  • Like Temple said.

    I have merely scratched the surface of the story Steven F. Hayward tells in THE REAL Jimmy Carter.

    Not even that. All you’ve done is sneer at Jimmy Carter without offering any substantive reason to do so. Oh, I forgot. The Carters allegedly pee on walls in foreign countries.

    Are conservatives so desperate they have to resort to attacks on the humanitarian work of a former president who happens to be a Democrat? I guess so. [edited]

    Say, isn’t someone old enough to remember Carter as president also old enough to remember Nixon?

  • bhw

    Say, isn’t someone old enough to remember Carter as president also old enough to remember Nixon?


  • Eric Olsen

    there was a fellow named Ford between Nixon and Carter, came from Michigan, used to be a football player.

  • i remember almost nothing about ford, except for the stumbling incidents.

    maybe that’s because i was ‘burned out’ on politics at the time as the watergate hearings got in the way of watching “the price is right” after school.


  • JR

    Nixon… Hmmm, was he the guy who instituted nationwide wage controls to try to curb inflation? The guy who wasn’t paying attention when the Shah tried to warn him that OPEC was going to cut oil exports?

    Nah, that was before my time. As far as I know, inflation and the oil crisis were all Carter’s fault.

  • Yes, I remember Nixon. I just didn’t mention Nixon because the book I reviewed was about Jimmy Carter. And I did acknowledge Carter’s “humanitarian work”. The guy really knows how to pound those nails.

    Conservatives don’t need to resort to attacks on anyone. That’s not what the book nor my review of it was about. Carter created his own legacy of disastrous foreign and domestic policy. All Steven F Hayward did was write about it, and all I did was read and review his book. Obviously this book is not for you.

  • Oh, yes, Ford! Why is it so easy to forget that fellow?

    Punditz, by ‘humanitarian work,’ I mean Carter’s diplomacy as well as his work for Habitat for Humanity. You do not like his diplomacy.

    BTW, didn’t many of the U.S.’ problems in the Middle East and Central America begin or worsen during Nixon’s term and a half?

  • RJ

    “Say, isn’t someone old enough to remember Carter as president also old enough to remember Nixon?”

    Well, Nixon was an asshole too. But he’s dead now, and is therefore no longer making trouble.

    What’s your point?

  • RJ

    Carter inherited problems, yes. But he simply made them worse, not better, during his (thankfully) brief tenure in the WH.

    Reagan, the first truly conservative President since Coolidge, fixed many of those problems.

    That’s why Reagan is widely considered to be a “great” President, and Carter is widely viewed as a “failed” President.

    But, he sure knows how to use a hammer!

  • JR

    Reagan, the first truly conservative President since Coolidge, fixed many of those problems.

    Or maybe he just transformed those problems into other problems, such as the national debt, which didn’t get fixed until Clinton.

  • “Punditz, by ‘humanitarian work,’ I mean Carter’s diplomacy as well as his work for Habitat for Humanity. You do not like his diplomacy.”

    I don’t consider Carter’s interference in foreign policy “humanitarian work”. As a matter of fact, former Presidents didn’t always feel that way about what Carter was up to either.

  • But, you are a Nixon fan. Interesting.

  • RJ

    Who’s a “Nixon fan”?

  • “didn’t get fixed until Clinton”

    Didn’t get fixed until after the 1994 mid-term election when the overwhelming backlash against Clinton brought Republicans into a majority position in both the House and the Senate, and THEY balanced the budget. Congress controls the purse strings, not the President.

    And yes, much to my dismay, they also passed the recent string of budgets, which are huge and bloated, but giving Clinton credit for the balanced budgets of the 1990’s would not be accurate.

  • Oh, and the national debt never really got any better. It’s currently at about $7.3 trillion last I heard. But the Republican Congress did end deficit spending. I was guessing you meant budget deficits, not the national debt, but I wanted to clarify that point. People tend to pick things apart rather hastily around here.

  • DJM

    Funny, first person reviews a book, and everyone after criticizes his review without reading the book first.

    I guess Mac Diva thinks that is the “liberal” way of doing things. Easy to understand how they lost the House and Senate.

    I may or may not agree with the reviewer. I look forward to reading the book first and then researching those things from the book I have doubts about.

    I look forward to reading the book

  • bobharrer,sr

    Avery charitable, just was made not to be President. He gave away the Panama canal./his fiscal policies caused gas shortages, because he wrongly invaded Iran, turning allies to enemies, could not handle the hostage crises, interest went up to 18%, and wrongfully funded ARAFAT, inhopes of peace. the millions to not go to the citizes, for in my opinio, AFAFAT stashed the money

  • bliffle

    “I’m old enough to remember the long lines at gas pumps and the raging inflation of the Carter presidency.”

    That Carter guy really was sinister since he was able to cause the OPEC gas shortage of 1973 altho he was only to be elected in 1976. That’s further proof of Carters baleful influence. I suppose Carter did that in an attempt to discredit the Nixon/Ford administrations. But we know better, don’t we?

    Carter also caused the 17% interest rates in the Nixon years that forced Nixon to declare wage and price controls.

    Also, I’ve been told by people at Habitat For Humanity that Carter can’t even drive a nail straight and seldom attempts it.

  • Wow, I didn’t think the Governor of Georgia was all that powerful! I wonder why he decided to trade down to President?

  • bliffle

    It’s all part of Carters leftist plot to destroy America.

  • bob fisher


  • chris moffatt

    pure far right polemic. Not worth 2 cents of anybody’s money.