The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
Jimmy Carter Now Obama Spokesman?

Conservatives have been damning Obama with Jimmy Carter comparisons for years, but the well-worn tactic may now pay off for Mitt Romney. Apparently, Jimmy Carter will be featured as a primetime speaker at the Democratic National Convention next month, reports the Wall Street Journal:

Carving out a role for Mr. Carter at the party’s quadrennial conventions is a sticky business.  As one of the party’s only two living ex-presidents, he can’t be ignored. But because he lost to Ronald Reagan in 1980, Democrats haven’t been quick to showcase him, either.

Putting the man who is widely regarded as the worst president in recent history in the primetime spotlight is an audacious move by the Obama campaign. Romney (to say nothing of one humble blogger) has likened Obama to the somewhat weak and incompetent Carter, and now he has added ammunition in making this comparison.

Many on the Left respect Carter for his oustpoken post-presidential activism on human rights. Yet if Obama was hoping Carter’s speech will shore up their support, he may want to think again. In a recent New York Times op-ed, Carter described Obama’s human rights record as “cruel and unusual”, and recently told an MSNBC interviewer that he’d be “comfortable” with Mitt Romney as president, whom he considered a “fairly competent governor.” Not exactly the message the Obama campaign has been pushing.

Sometimes it is better to not invite someone to the party. What could the Obama campaign team be thinking?

Published on August 8, 2012 7:35 pm
  • JJ

    Unrelated, but did you see this? Here is how to make money off the enviro-unicorn hunt

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/09/world/asia/incentive-to-slow-climate-change-drives-output-of-harmful-gases.html?hp

  • Corlyss

    One more fact to add to the pile substantiating that this is a base election for the Dems.

  • http://fat-city-usa.blogspot.com/ Walter Sobchak

    Those Jewish Americans who still believe that Obama is a friend of Israel should have their eyes opened by this move.

  • Jacksonian Libertarian

    Never interfere when an enemy is intent on making a mistake.

  • cacrucil

    Unbelievable Mead!

    “Putting the man who is widely regarded as the worst president in recent history in the primetime spotlight is an audacious move by the Obama campaign.”

    How can you say this. When carter was leaving office, we weren’t facing the worst financial crisis since the great depression. The George W. Bush administration was at least as bad.

  • Herb Dregs

    Can Jimmy Carter really be considered the worst modern president after the second Bush administration?

  • thibaud

    No doubt a not-so-subtle reminder of that GOP president Who Shall Not Be Mentioned – y’know, the one who
    a) gave us this recession and
    b) is ranked far below Carter, just above Buchanan and Harding as one of the worst presidents in our history.

    Maybe also to remind working-class voters in PA and OH which president did more than anyone to make the shale gas boom feasible.

  • thibaud

    A speculative bet: given that Obama’s making energy and climate change the central theme of his second term, I would not be surprised if Jimmy Carter were to speak at length about his brilliantly successful policy regarding support for unconventional fuels.

    An extremely timely subject, one that Carter deserves tremendous credit for – and can speak knowledgeably about and with great credibility.

    It would be fascinating to hear Carter give the nation a lesson on how we can move forward and tackle the next generational challenge in energy.

  • thibaud

    Mr Mead should step outside of his cocoon now and then.
    Here’s the latest CNN poll concerning Americans’ opinions of living presidents, from June of this year:

    Favorable ratings:

    Clinton 66%
    GHW Bush 59%
    Carter 54%
    George W Bush 43%

    Unfavorable ratings:

    George W Bush 54%
    GHW Bush 34%
    Clinton 31%
    Carter 30%

    http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2012/06/07/cnn-poll-george-w-bush-only-living-ex-president-under-50/

    ” ‘Don’t be surprised if the Obama campaign mentions the name of George W. Bush at every opportunity, and don’t be surprised if that strategy works,’ says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. ‘And the mention of Bush’s name appears to prompt at least a few people to take a more positive view of their current financial situation.’

    “The poll suggests that any attempts by Republicans to respond to the highlighting of Bush by stirring memories of former President Jimmy Carter may not work…. When asked in the survey whether they are better or worse off than they were four years ago, Americans are split, 44% to 43%.

    “But when asked whether they are better or worse off than they were four years ago *** when Bush was president,*** a small gap opens – 47% say they are better off compared to 41% who say they are worse off.”

  • dearieme

    “Putting the man who is widely regarded as the worst president in recent history”: oh come, surely W relieved him of that burden.

  • Jim.

    So no one here remembers stagflation and malaise?

    How about the way Reagan picked up the pieces from Carter and after four years left America roaring ahead? How does that compare to the Obama “recovery”?

    Or if it’s a petrochemical boom and new American reserves we’re talking about, does anyon remember the W-era tax breaks for such exploration?

    Look, I’m the last guy to be defending Big Government Bush. He added more to the national debt than any president besides… Obama. Still, compared to any successful president, or even Obama-the-2008-candidate, Obama-the-president has been a train wreck.

  • thibaud

    Does Mead ever do ANY research before he posts?

    Good thing he’s not advising Romney. On second thought, it would be a very good thing if he were advising Romney. A good thing for Obama.

  • Jim.

    @thibaud-

    The thing people like most about Carter is that he’s an EX-president.

  • Otis McWrong

    Carter is not only “one of” (nod to Big Gubbmint Bush) the worst US Presidents, he is far and away the worst EX President. All the buffoon has done since mercifully leaving office is fly around the world and criticize whoever is in office or just the US in general. Yeah I know he held a hammer and posed for a few housebuilding pictures too. Barry may get away this since a large percentage of today’s voters don’t remember the 70′s and how weak Carter was. The again, Obama is weak and ineffective and it doesn’t seem to bother anyone.

    For what it’s worth, Robert Novak in his autobiography “Prince of Darkness” says that Carter was far and away the most personally dishonest politician he had dealt with in 50 years. For a guy who knew LBJ to say that is revealing.

  • thibaud

    C’mon, people, this one’s not so tough. Venture outside your Tea Party echo chamber and open your eyes.

    There’s a reason that the GOP is desperate to avoid any mention of George Bush, while the Dems are happy to showcase Clinton and Carter.

  • C. Philips

    To correct dearieme above: “Putting the man who is widely regarded as the worst president in recent history”: oh come, surely Obama has relieved him of that burden:

    The “stimulus” that, it was claimed, would make sure unemployment never went above 8%–but it has never been as low as 8% since a few months into Obama’s presidency.

    Trillion dollar a year deficits, projected to continue forever.

    Budget proposals so unserious then get defeated in the Senate 98-0.

    Telling Britain it should negotiate with Argentina about sovereignty over the Maldives.

  • Herb Dregs

    Jimmy Carter doesn’t get enough credit for appointing the man who ended the stagflation, Paul Volcker.

  • thibaud

    #14 Otis: “Barry may get away this since a large percentage of today’s voters don’t remember the 70′s and how weak Carter was.”

    Glad you brought this up, McWrong. Every US voter knows which president’s airborne commando raid into the desert was a spectacular success. Obama’s spectacular coup in nailing bin Laden knocked foreign policy off the table as an election issue.

    It’s comical to watch Romney, of all people, try to attack Obama re toughness on AQ.

    It was Romney who, seconding the Bush admin’s decision to divert resources away from killing ObL and to shut down the CIA’s bin Laden unit, in 2007 repeatedly criticized Obama’s advocacy of sending troops in to Pakistan to kill bin Laden.

    Romney in 2007: “It’s not worth moving heaven and earth spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person.”

    As Richard Clarke notes, Obama owns this issue. Romney won’t even bother trying to touch Obama on national security. Richard Clarke:

    - President Obama personally participated in repeated high-level meetings on his aggressive new strategy for getting Al Qaeda and its leaders in Pakistan.

    - Pres. Obama ordered a dramatic increase in drone attacks in Pakistan, wiping out Al Qaeda leaders and making it almost impossible for Bin Laden’s senior commanders to operate there.

    - Pres. Obama rejected cabinet members’ advice and ordered the raid that killed Bin Laden to go ahead.

    - finally, it was Obama as commander-in-chief who ordered that additional helicopters be made part of the operation, a decision that turned out to be crucial.

  • Mick The Reactionary

    @Walter Sobchak :

    “Those Jewish Americans who still believe that Obama is a friend of Israel should have their eyes opened by this move.”

    Why would they? Never happened before.

    Carter got 64% of Jewish vote in 1976, Ford got 34%.

    In 1980, after seeing what an enemy of Israel Carter is, Jews gave Reagan all of 39%. 20% of Jews could not bring themselves to vote for Repubs and voted for the helpless third party candidate.

    Reagan was a great friend of Israel and was rewarded by jewish voter by drop from 39% to 31%.

    Like I always said, if Obama will make Jews wear yellow star and register with local community organizers, his jewish vote will drop to 65%.

    Repubics should support Israel based on USA security interests, they will never get more than 35% of jewish vote.

    It is the same thing with Hispanics. George “Jorge” W Bush, the proposer of unlimited immigration and unlimited amnesty, could only manage about 30-34% in 2004, economically great year for all Hispanics employed in construction/housing industry.

  • Mick The Reactionary

    “There’s a reason that the GOP is desperate to avoid any mention of George Bush”

    Sadly it is not true. Repubiks establishment likes Jorge W Bush and loves the rest of that RINO family.

    Note how eager so called conservative media hangs to every word of RINO Jeb Bush who is just as fanatical Open Border advocate as was his dimmer brother.

  • Mick The Reactionary

    @Axelrod via thibaud:

    “Obama ordered a dramatic increase in drone attacks in Pakistan, wiping out Al Qaeda leaders and making it almost impossible for Bin Laden’s senior commanders to operate there.”

    So we have won in Afghanistan, yes?
    Somebody must tell Afghis that.

    It seems they are blissfully unaware they have lost and should surrender.

  • thibaud

    “Axelrod”? What chew smokin’, Mick?

    Face it, national security’s off the table this year. Gay-bashing won’t help much either.

    The only thing that could put Romney over the top is a sudden spike in unemployment.

    Not bloody likely – not even with the GOP jacobins doing everything in their power to make the situation worse.

    Better to go back to the drawing board and plan for 2016. Hint: get rid of your Tea party loons. That way marginalization lies.