Brian Birdnow

Well, he’s back! In his “White House Diary” Jimmy Carter engages in his latest attempt to burnish his historical reputation. His previous efforts, and there have been many, have earned him a dubious Nobel Peace Prize, but they have changed few minds here at home, because many Americans are old enough to remember him. Now, the ex-President begins his valedictory tour, something of a last hurrah, as it were, in the hopes of establishing a fraudulently positive historical legacy.

Mr. Carter’s latest book, “White House Diary” published last month, nearly thirty years after he left office is filled with old Carterite themes. He regularly insults Allies, referring to Margaret Thatcher as “overbearing” and slights his own Democratic Party mates like Ted Kennedy, as regular Townhall readers know form the Paul Kengor column last week. Carter also praises American enemies as his journal contains favorable references to the likes of Daniel Ortega, the Ayatollah Khomeini, Yasser Arafat and others.

The oldest Carter theme is also revisited here: The idea that the American voters chose the wrong man on November 4, 1980. Yes, St. James The Lesser still cannot come to terms with the fact that he suffered a good, old-fashioned whupping in the 1980 general election, and he has spent thirty years desperately attempting to re-write history, primarily by maligning the reputation of his vanquisher and successor, Ronald Reagan. Carter, displaying the mean streak for which he was known, began this campaign of denigration even before Reagan took the oath of office. He continued this backbiting for eight years, kept up throughout the 199os, and on into the new millennium. The ex-President took time out to deliver a gracious eulogy at Reagan’s state funeral in 2004, but now he has reverted to form. As Mr. Reagan said about Carter, in a slightly different context, “There you go again!”

Brian Birdnow

Brian E. Birdnow is a historian and teaches at a university in the St. Louis area.