Jimmy Carter - a great president?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by ivanotter, Apr 23, 2019.

  1. ivanotter Well-Known Member

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    All, Something has always puzzled me: The Carter presidency.

    He might have been a more moral character than some other presidents?

    After all, he was (I read) a reasonable good business man, growing his peanut farms.
    Surely advocate of civil rights and anti-segregation.
    Camp David, National energy policy, SALT II, combatting stagflation, embargoes after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, etc.

    Was he really that inefficient?

    What could have made him into a great president (or greater depends on temperament)?

    What went wrong (yes, hostage crisis, etc etc)
     
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  2. White Lightning Banned

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    To me Jimmy was the last President who was not a genocidal war criminal who deserve to be strung by their balls at the Hauge.
     
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  3. Electric Monk Does Your Believing For You

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    Congress wasn’t going to let some rube from Georgia run things. Being a rube from Georgia meant Carter didn’t have a clue on how to deal with Congress—and he didn’t care to know.

    Underrated tidbit about Carter? Every last one of his ‘76 primary opponents despised him for being a lying two-faced weasel on “moral” issues like abortion, or his constant dog whistling against busing.
     
  4. GeographyDude Well-Known Member

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    No way, sorry. Look at both East Timor and Cambodia.

    In the case of Cambodia, primarily sitting on our butts and not helping, but also blaming Vietnam for their Dec. 25, 1978 invasion of Cambodia which actually stopped the Khmer Rouge genocide.

    In the case of East Timor, we supported Indonesia all through their invasion and occupation of East Timor. Because Indonesia was a cold war ally, and that was that. That seemed to take precedence over all other considerations.

    * Later Edit: I’m not saying the Vietnamese are some salt of the Earth people better than the human norm. No, the reason they invaded Cambodia was because Khmer Rouge military units were crossing the border and attacking Vietnamese villages and killing Vietnamese citizens. But I still think they should get credit for the very important side benefit of stopping the genocide.
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2019
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  5. GeographyDude Well-Known Member

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    So, post-genocide, and that needs to be emphasized again and again or people will get the wrong idea,

    we helped China funnel weapons through Thailand to keep remnants of Khmer Rouge going. Because we wanted to give the Soviets and their client-state of Vietnam a hard time. And we used China and their (former) client-state of Cambodia headed by the Khmer Rouge. And the people on the ground, well, shit, that hardly mattered at all.

    * one reason why I long for a cold war which competed on who can give developing economies better trade deals
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2019
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  6. marathag Well-Known Member with a target on his back Kicked

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    It's near forgotten how bad relations were between the Carter administration and the Ds in both House and Senate were.
    Having the bunch of clowns Peanut brought north, the 'Georgia Mafia' did not help in that.
     
  7. Dave Howery laughs at your pain

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    domestic politics were bad enough, but foreign affairs really sunk Carter... particularly Iran and Afghanistan. To have any kind of chance to be great, you have to do away with those two problems...
     
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  8. HammerofWar Writer

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    He wasn't willing to play the game and make concessions or maybe do things a little shy of his morals.
     
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  9. m0585 Well-Known Member

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    A good and decent man who's presidency was a casualty of circumstances (both out of Carter's control and because of him).
     
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  10. White Lightning Banned

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    This was the beginning of the war between the Kennedy New Deal Dems and the NeoLiberal Free Market DLC which was won decisively by Carter.
     
  11. HammerofWar Writer

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    He actually pissed off the Secret Service when he decided to walk to the White House after his inauguration because their careful security plan was wiped out, leading to the Secret Service to think on the fly.
     
  12. arrowiv Well-Known Member

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    I always felt that all those bad things such as Iran and Afghanistan would still happen even if Carter had not been elected and if Ford or even Reagan would have been elected in 1976. The result? A very different legacy and reputation for either Ford or Reagan....
     
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  13. marathag Well-Known Member with a target on his back Kicked

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    I don't think Ford or Reagan would have handled Iran in the same way.

    For Afghanistan, what else to do other than economic sanctions, trade embargoes, boycott of the Moscow Olympics, and secret military aid to the Afghan rebels?

    Start WWIII?
     
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  14. TripleCitizen Well-Known Member

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    Jimmy Carter, otherwise known as the reason why moral presidents aren’t a good idea for a superpower
     
  15. Roosevelt 26th President

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    ...what?
     
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  16. m0585 Well-Known Member

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    Ummmmmmmmmmmmmm..........
     
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  17. marathag Well-Known Member with a target on his back Kicked

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    You know it should be spelled 'Amerika', right?

    The most evil Government ever to be on the Earth. Why, history will show Bill Clinton and George W to be far worse than Stalin, Mao and Hitler all together.

    Or something like thst.
     
  18. CCK Well-Known Member

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    Some Carter's problems were his own faults and some were out of his control.

    If he had came to Washington more willing to work with the members of Congress. Through more bones to the Democratic leaders in Congress early on and made some of their top priorities his top priorities during his first few months as president, I think they would have been more supportive of him when things started to turn south for him in late 1977/early 1978. But he truly believed he was going to reform things in D.C. and cut a lot of federal spending as a symbolic gesture that Washington was going to "tighten their belts" during those very bad economic times like many Americans were having to do in their own households. But the Democrats in Congress were not feeling that and probably would have preferred him to spend more by implementing New Deal style relief programs like the Works Progress Administration, the Civilian Conservation Corps, and the Farm Security Administration for example. President Carter was also a micromanager (he famously chose not to have a Chief of Staff early on in his presidency). If he had had someone connected to the "Washington establishment" in his inner circle in the West Wing, he might have navigated the political waters better early in his presidency. He should have brought in former DNC Chairman Robert Strauss to be his Chief of Staff (he was Carter's U.S. Trade Representative). He had both Carter's respect and the respect of the congressional Democrats.

    But for the most part many of the things that happened during his presidency were out of his control. The bad economy and stagflation began under Nixon's final year and things just got worse through Ford, Carter and for Reagan's first two years. The energy crisis, the hostage crisis, those things would have happened regardless of who was president. Those problems were simmering in the late 60s and early 70s. They just boiled over in the late 70s. If Carter would have been more hawkish about the Iran Hostage Crisis, I can see a sort of patriotic feeling develop to create a "rally around the flag" mentality to get the American public to stand behind President Carter long enough to get him enough electoral votes to beat Reagan in 1980 (remember that Reagan won many of the states he won in 1980 with less than 50% of the vote in those states). With more support for the Commander in Chief maybe there is less interest in John Anderson's independent candidacy, which also helps Carter in 1980.

    That gets us into a 2nd term and then Carter can focus more on his legacy. He nominates the first woman to the U.S. Supreme Court (likely Shirley Hufstedler). With Carter re-elected the Iranians know that he will be there for 4 more years. So negotiations to release the hostages can continue and are more favorable for Carter's State Department now with the Reagan team no longer secretly trying to sabotage them. Carter would have continued to give aide to the mujahideen in Afghanistan in their war with the USSR. After Brezhnev's death in late 1982, I can see Carter by then in his lame duck period try to explore more diplomacy with the Soviets. He would not have called the USSR an "evil empire" in early 1983 like Reagan did and he wouldn't have been so thirsty for a "Star Wars" like missile defensive system like Reagan. Maybe without that extreme anti-communist rhetoric, Yuri Andropov would have been more willing to listen (though I doubt it) before his health started to fail. But because of Andropov's and Chernenko's poor health, I don't expect Carter could have done much when it comes to real arms reductions. He at best could have laid the grown work for his successor and Gorbachev to ultimately do the arms reductions we'd see in the late 1980s. Carter would at least not have put us in a position that nuclear war was such an extreme threat as it appeared to be in 1983.

    Carter would have kept Paul Volcker as the Fed. Chairman and the economy would have still began to improve by 1983 and 1984. Now could Vice-President Mondale have won in 1984. That's certainly debatable. The Conservative Coalition I think would not be as strong with a Reagan loss in 1980. But they would still be there and hungry for power. Maybe they do well enough in the 1982 midterms to win control of the senate. But I can see a bloody battle during the 1984 Republican Primary between Bob Dole and the ultra right-wing conservatives and George Bush and the center-right of the party. Dole probably wins because he would've been a more familiar face to the public as a sitting senator during Carter's 2nd term. So he would have been on the Sunday morning shows more, he could have introduced conservative legislation and initiatives as a sitting senator. He just would have been more visible opposition to the Carter White House during Carter's 2nd term than Bush would have been. In a Mondale vs. Dole election in 1984, I would believe Mondale would win that race with an improving economy and with Dole not having the charisma that Reagan did, he would turn off middle of the road voters who may have personally liked Reagan.

    After Carter leaves office in 1985, he returns to Plains, Georgia and opens the Carter Center in the late 80s and does much of the same work he's done the last 30+ years.
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2019
  19. ivanotter Well-Known Member

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    Well, one learns all the time.

    The hostage crisis would probably have occurred regardless (on a side note: it is interesting to see that the current Iranian president Rouhana was on the negotiation team at that time and that the foreign minister resigned days ago - and: I have had meetings with the foreign minister. A very pleasant person indeed).

    Were there ever situations where the internal dynamics of situations were because of the perception of Carter as being out of his depth?

    Eagle Claw looked as a 'Bay of Pigs' mill stone. Should Carter have backed off? If so, would it have changed anything in the relationship with Iran?

    Afghanistan was a mess to begin with, but did it need to involve US to the extent? (There is a saying that you can only grow two things in Afghanistan: rocks and angry men).

    As governor of Georgia, Carter should have had some experience in dealing with the legislature. Why did he become so hostile towards congress? was it all election ploy?

    As a business man he should be able to pick good managers and underlings. That seems not to be the case in his cabinet and other positions.

    Why was this so? was it all a matter of 'pay-back time'?

    Carter's presidency is still a puzzle to me.
     
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  20. Maeglin Lómion

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    There is a difference between dealing with a state legislature, and dealing with the US Congress. Jimmy's problem was twofold - he was a genuine moderate, when the congressional Democrats preferred something more progressive, and he did not "play the game". There is a story of him inviting Tip O'Neil to breakfast at the White House when he became President. O'Neil was expecting a cooked breakfast with all the trimmings... then saw what Jimmy was offering, and said "You know, we won, Mr President...").