Andrew Leonard: Jimmy Carter: Worst. American. Ever!





[Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon.]

Let's get the big honking disclaimer out of the way first. As a callow 18-year-old, I cast my first vote for president of the United States in 1980 to reelect Jimmy Carter. While I can't claim to be have been a hugely enthusiastic supporter of the much-beleaguered president (he reinstated registration for the draft, for crying out loud!), there was no doubt in my mind that he was infinitely superior to that joke from California, a has-been actor who already had one foot inside a retirement home. I also was confident that Richard Nixon's disgrace would keep Republicans out of the White House for at least a couple more terms....

All weekend long, liberals have been goggling at a thoroughly unscientific poll of right-wing bloggers by the Right Wing News blog that purports to list the 25 worst Americans of all time -- the lowest of the low of "all the gangsters, serial killers, mass murderers, incompetent & crooked politicians, spies, traitors, and ultra left-wing kooks in all of American history."

By its very nature, a list such as this is all but useless as any kind of objective analysis of American history, but we can still glean some insights into the conservative mind from its preoccupations. At the top of the rankings: Jimmy Carter. No. 2: Barack Obama. 3. Franklin Delano Roosevelt....

Carter, reviled for so long for his supposed mediocrity and ineffectuality, was right on the money on the single most important issue that links together American foreign policy, economic growth and the sustainability of a stable climate. With each year that passes, he becomes more right. The best explanation I can imagine for explaining why conservatives think he is the worst American of all time is that the challenge of dealing with that paradox has driven them all utterly insane.

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