Here’s William McGurn in the Wall Street Journal, wanting you to know that unlike Barack Obama, Jimmy Carter could learn on the job:
Over the years, Mr. Carter’s name has become a synonym for American weakness abroad and decline at home, the former represented by the Iranian hostage crisis that plagued him until his last moments in office, and the latter by an economy that introduced American working families to words such as “stagflation.” Not until Ronald Reagan succeeded Mr. Carter did Americans see policies that would unleash the U.S. economy and eventually bring down the Berlin Wall.
Even so, there’s a serious point in Mr. Bolton’s quip. Mr. Carter may indeed be the gold standard for fecklessness and malaise. But toward the end of his tenure, President Carter proved himself capable of something that still eludes President Obama: a willingness to learn from mistakes and reconsider options.
And here’s your friendly neighborhood VodkaPundit, wanting you to know that unlike Barack Obama, Jimmy Carter could learn on the job:
Carter, for all his silly notions, learned on the job and came up with some decent policies — eventually.
Jimmuh was dealt an extremely weak hand on national defense, probably the weakest in the post-war era. The armed forces — especially the Army — were making the slow and painful transition to an all-volunteer force. Drugs were still a problem, and a sense of defeat still hung in the air after Vietnam. Public trust in the armed forces was at an all-time low. Carter couldn’t have engaged in any successful saber-rattling with the Soviets, even had he been inclined to. Instead, Carter made human rights the cornerstone of America’s foreign policy, setting the stage for Reagan’s “evil empire” speech. It was a weak policy, yes — but the best he could do given a weak hand. And when the invasion of Afghanistan made Soviet expansionism became too much to bear, Carter changed course. The defense buildup under Reagan really began under Carter.
Faced with inflation, Carter appointed inflation hawk Paul Volcker to head the Fed. Reagan kept him on for a second term. Faced with a weak economy, Carter undid New Deal transportation cartels. The man could and did learn on the job.
Which brings us to President Barack Obama.
The biggest difference between our two columns is that I wrote mine over four years ago.