It's time to stop calling Obama 'worse than Carter.' Here's why.
01/22/2014 03:01:31 PM EST
ATLANTA - SEPTEMBER 16: Former President Jimmy Carter smiles at the crowd during his 28th annual town hall meeting at Emory University on September 16, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia. Carter answered Emory students' questions ranging in topics from racism, health care and the Middle East during the one-hour town hall meeting. (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images) (Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)
html">conservative pundit Hugh Hewitt; New York Post columnist Michael Goodwin; and real estate mogul Donald Trump, among others.
Sen. John McCain said President Obama is worse than Jimmy Carter.
In an interview with an Arizona radio station, the president's 2008 opponent argued that Carter's often-criticized foreign policy “pales in comparison to this president.”
It's hardly a new dig. Former vice president Dick Cheney has also argued Obama is worse than Carter. So has Obama's 2012 opponent, Mitt Romney, and his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan; conservative commentator R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr.;
Among Republicans, calling Obama “worse than Carter” is now as cliched as praising Reagan or standing in front of a bunch of American flags.
But here's the problem: More and more people have no idea who Republicans are talking about, so this barb has less sting than Republicans think.
According to 2010 Census data, 126 million Americans were born after Carter left office — about 41 percent of the entire U.S. population.
And as of this Monday, it's been exactly 33 years since Carter's last day as president. To put it another way, the Carter presidency is now as distant from us as Truman's 1948 re-election was from his last day in office.
Besides, from a historical perspective, Carter isn't necessarily the worst president — or even the worst Democratic president.
Surveys by historians tend to give Carter poor marks, placing him in the company of such lesser colleagues as Chester Arthur and Rutherford B. Hayes, but still above the worst, such as James Buchanan, who dithered in the days leading up to the Civil War, or Warren G. Harding, who was beset by scandal.
Meantime, more Americans are familiar with Carter's post-presidency, which has included things like writing books, building homes and winning the Nobel Peace Prize. In fact, a survey last year found Americans ranked Carter as the 24th most trusted person in America, the highest politician on the list.
Even Carter's presidency has come in for some historical revision, albeit mainly for deregulating the beer industry, a decision which led to today's craft beer movement.
So the next time John McCain is feeling let down by Obama, maybe he should argue he's “worse than Franklin Pierce.”