“Had we not had the hostage crisis,” muses Jimmy Carter philosophically (surely he is using we in the Aristotelian sense, or rather we in the Will Durantian sense of the Aristotelian sense) in his newly released White House Diary, a compendium of his daily entries over the four years of his presidency (culled thoughtfully for his readers from five thousand pages to a trifling six hundred), “I would have won.” Moreover, he adds, with the characteristic Carterian bonhomie, “Had I not had Kennedy as my opponent, who sapped away a portion of the Democratic wing, I would have been re-elected.”
So much blame, so little time.
· Had he not also accused his fellow Americans of abandoning their pride “in hard work, strong families, close-knit communities, and . . . faith in God”
· Had he not also charged them with worshipping “self-indulgence and consumption,” and defining human identity “by what one owns”
· Had he not also blamed the Vietnam War, Richard Nixon, and “a system of government that seems incapable of action. . . . a Congress twisted and pulled in every direction by hundreds of well-financed and powerful special interests [and] every extreme position defended to the last vote, almost to the last breath by one unyielding group or another” (gosh, doesn’t that sound awfully familiarly like the whinging we’ve heard with regularity from the downturned lips of the White House’s current occupant?)
· Had he not also celebrated our release from “that inordinate fear of communism which once led us to embrace any dictator who joined us in that fear” before in essence facilitating and then watching with something akin to approval the establishment of a Sandinista dictatorship in Nicaragua
· Had he not also not projected American weakness (through his own) and then been forced to vie against Ronald “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” Reagan . . .
Had he not also, in other words, been the worst U.S. president ever, before, that is, the Advent of Barack Obama, he would have been re-elected.
Or maybe not? The answer might be found in those excised forty-four hundred pages of his Diary.