Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Personal Aside: The Worst Ex-President in U. S. History—I.

As I was reading about Jimmy Carter embracing a Hamas politician yesterday during a visit to the West Bank, ignoring a request from the U. S. that he not go because Hamas is a terrorist group, I began speculating, as a history buff, on who in American history has been the worst ex-president.

I thought: Maybe it was Democrat-turned-Republican, Andrew Johnson. Nope. Johnson, the 17th president, who was impeached and spared from conviction by one vote because of his decision to follow Abraham Lincoln’s policies of reconciliation with the South and ran into trouble. The South had no intention of sharing power with the ex-slaves; Radical Republicans led by Thaddeus Stevens wanted punitive policies pursued so that the old southern Democratic cabal that ran the Congress for so many years would not return. The differences led to vicious fighting (something like Blagojevich vs. Madigan in Illinois) and the passage over the president’s veto of a flagrantly unconstitutional “Tenure of Office Act” which stated the president could not fire a cabinet official unless he had the approval of Congress. It was passed to protect Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton who was a Radical Republican and who was flagrantly disloyal to the president.

Johnson fired Stanton and perforce was impeached. He was almost universally hated—by misguided followers of the assassinated Lincoln who felt he was “soft” on traitors i.e. the South…by the South because as a native southern Democrat he had bolted to run with Lincoln. Seemingly by everybody. But as the day of seemingly inevitable conviction neared…when Johnson would be found guilty and sentenced to prison…seven Republican senators including Illinois’ Lyman Trumbull defected, took their political lives in their hands, and voted to acquit Johnson. Now: was Johnson a bad ex-president? Did he run around the hurl invectives and insults at his enemies? No. He was elected to the Senate from Tennessee and served honorably—the only ex-president to return to elective office—and died as a Senator. In a statement found after his death, he wrote: “I have performed my duty to my God, my country and my family. I have nothing to fear in approaching death. To me it is the mere shadow of God’s protecting wing.”


Well, I ruminated: maybe it was the 14th president, Democrat Franklin Pierce, one of the most handsome presidents, a fashion-plate but highly unpopular because of his pro-slavery views. Nope. The 14th president, born in New Hampshire, had had a tough time with the bottle all his life including when he was a House member, senator and president but he never disgraced himself or his country. He served one term, returned home, began drinking in earnest to conquer depression. He opposed the abolitionists but stressed that the Union must be preserved; as a result he was called traitor by both sides in his home town of Concord, N. H. On Lincoln’s assassination, an angry crowd raided his home. He was a failed, unpopular president but he was loyal to the Union.

Could it be Democrat James Buchanan? Nope. The 15th president ranks near the bottom of the list because he frittered away any opportunity to prevent an angry South from seceding although notwithstanding his Pennsylvania heritage he was pro-South and wanted Kansas to be admitted as a slave state which was blocked. He loyally supported Abraham Lincoln, his successor, and the Union.

A quick survey: None were hostile, disloyal to their predecessors—except one: James Earl Carter, the 39th. Rewarded by the Left which has taken over the conferring of the Nobel prizes for Peace, Jimmy Carter undoubtedly has won the cup. Now, at this writing, he has spurned the pleas of the U.S. government and has journeyed to the Middle East and meetings with the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas. Yesterday he embraced its bloody leader Khaled Mashal in Damascus with a man-hug. He is the radical Palestinians’ boy, author of a book “Palestine Peace Not Apartheid”—a title so stridently anti-Israeli that even he regretted the title in retrospect. He has criticized our president in time of war and actively gives solace to the enemy with trips like this.

Yes, Jimmy is the worst ex-president. And he keeps on adding to his negative luster. He is proud that he can greets dictators, saying “When I go to a dictatorship, I only have to talk to one person and that’s the dictator because he speaks for all the people.” I’ll let that statement sink in for a moment. He was always a critic of Ronald Reagan’s description of the USSR as “an evil empire” and never commented when as result of Reagan the empire folded. Carter rose to the fore to criticize George H.W. Bush, saying that when Bush smiled he looked “like a fool.” He led a strong opposition against use of force to reverse the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait in 1990. In fact, he dispatched a letter to the heads of state of the members of the UN Security Council in flat opposition to the U. S. position, strongly urging them to oppose the American request of UN authorization for military action. Bush only learned about this indirectly—not through any courtesy of Carter—when he visited with Canada’s Brian Mulroney.

Why was Carter supportive of what he called “an Arab solution” to the threatened occupation of Kuwait? It would violate what he himself had called the “Carter Doctrine,” threatening war in the wake of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan which was identical to Saddam Hussein’s move in the Persian Gulf? Best guess is the little fellow (Carter) was jealous of Bush and wanted to land back in the headlines himself. Tirelessly, Jimmy Carter played against U. S. interests, arriving in Yugoslavia during the Bosnian War in the mid-1990s winning praise for Slobodan Milosevic and which he returned with the statement that “the prospect for ending the crisis through U.S. military means is almost hopeless.” Studiously the liberal mainstream media covered him as a rebuke to Bush. In North Korea he was joyfully received by Kim Il Sung because as president Carter had tried to withdraw our troops unilaterally from the South. Bill Clinton didn’t want him to go but against his better judgment assented. We are still ruing the day Clinton made that decision.

Visiting Pyongyuang he immediately sided with Kim Il Sung against Clinton’s stance against North Korean nuclear weapons. Touring North Korea he found the country just like home. Shops in Pyongyuang were “similar to the Wal-Mart in Americus, Georgia.” The neon lights reminded him of Times Square. The people were friendly, the regime reflected their “popular will.” Acting highly improperly, Jimmy Carter and Kim cut a deal so that North Korea would be given two light-water nuclear reactors in exchange for its graphite reactor. In return for the U.S. promise to enter talks over a North Korean wish list, North Korea would verifiably freeze activity with fuel rods and whatever weapons material they had earlier extracted would be forgiven. But they had extracted enough for the production of two bombs. Not easily forgiven.

Then Carter said the details could be ironed out by the diplomats. As for him, he had a date with the media. So without notifying Washington of the details, he sped to the news cameras to announce it. But the North Koreans began cheating immediately although North Korea received fuel as a gift form the U.S., Japan and South Korea. By 2002 the Bush administration confronted the North over its cheating. It acknowledged it not with an apology but with anger. Then last year North Korea tested a nuclear bomb. The North had insisted in talks with Carter that it sought nuclear energy just for the sole purpose of generating nuclear energy. Yeah, right. Now it changed its tune and said he wanted to belong to the nuclear club. And Jimmy Carter? He wrote an Op Ed for “The New York Times” putting the blame squarely on the U. S. for branding North Korea as “the axis of evil.”

Now we get to the Middle East and his views which have led him to side with the Palestinians—but that’s for tomorrow.


  1. What about John Quincy Adams -- didn't he serve in Congress after he was president... if I remember correctly he actually died on the floor of the House during a debate.

  2. Carter is wrong on just about everything but religion, family and the homeless.

    I spoke with a young tank commander last night, just back from the DMZ in Korea.

    BTW- he was deplyed to Korea after being wounded by IED in Afghanistan.

    This young officer, whose thre brothers are all in Iraq with the Army, told me that he was involved in a fire-fight with North Koreans last December.

    It seems that starving soldiers were attempting to flee North Korea and were caught between PRK troops and American soldiers.

    Starving soldiers attempt to desert North Korea all the time - when they have perfectly good WALMARTS run by President Carter's good friend Kim.

    Stay Home, Mr. President. He'll get America in the jackpot with the Swiss, for Crissakes.

  3. What about John Tyler who actually supported the Confederacy, and was a member of its Congress?

  4. Carter was the worst president I have ever witnessed. But the worst ex-president I would give to George H.W. Bush. Other than trying to raise funds for Katrina victims, what has he done? It might be the paranoid in me, but I don't trust ex-CIA officials.