The events of this decade demand a revision of that judgement.
Jimmy Carter was a great President. The fault lay in us, not in him. He just didn’t lead a great country, only one which thought itself great.
We ridiculed Carter for warning of the energy crisis, for wearing the cardigan sweater. We preferred the glib, simple "kill ’em all" answers of Ronald Reagan. We chose them. Carter did everything possible to tell us not to, but we chose Reagan. We thought Reagan a great man.
And what did Reagan do?
- The Reagan Administration cemented an alliance with Osama bin Laden.
- The Reagan Administration cemented an alliance with Saddam Hussein.
Had Carter been re-elected, we might have had a floor price for energy enabling us to start moving away from our junkie-like dependence on Middle East Oil. Imagine how many lives would have been saved.
Instead we’ve had this political thesis, this assumption of American
Exceptionalism that is no more real than a Hollywood stage set, and the
inevitable downfall, the inevitable excess into destruction, into loss,
into the destruction of that Exceptionalism.
It didn’t have to be that way.
Carter was right.
The Reagan statues in our midst are as misleading as the one of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad. It is time to take them down from our national memory.
The judgements of history are true for all time, not just for one time.