View of Jimmy Carter and his Presidency

That was a reader request.  Matt Yglesias offers some background, as does Kevin Drum.  On the plus side there was airline deregulation, support for Volcker and disinflation (later), willingness to lose the Presidency to see disinflation through, and he didn't push for a large number of Democratic ideas that I would disagree with, though he did create the Department of Education.  Recall that he came from a party of McGovern and Kennedy and you can think of him as a precursor of the better side of the Clinton administration.  Price controls on energy were a big mistake and that idea is hard to justify.

I'll call his support for the Afghan rebels a plus, because it helped down the Soviet Union, but I can see how you could argue that one either way.  His conservation efforts could be called mamby-pamby but still they were a step in the right direction.  He gave amnesty to Vietnam draft dodgers, a plus in my book, as was giving away the Panama Canal and bribing Egypt into better behavior.

At the time I thought Carter was a reasonably good President and it was far from obvious to me that the election of Reagan would in net terms boost liberty or prosperity.

I do understand that he was a public relations disaster and he shouldn't have fired his entire Cabinet and that he botched the Iran invasion.

Still, I think of Carter as a President with some major pluses and overall I view his term as a step in the right direction.  He also seems to have been non-corrupt — important so soon after Watergate — and since leaving office he has behaved honorably and intelligently, for the most part.


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