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Jimmy Carter Least Popular Ex-President Among Ex-Presidents

Once upon a time, Jimmy Carter was everyone’s favorite former president. While most of us thought his term in the Oval Office inept, his good works as a relatively young former president gained him almost universally admiration. Eventually, his moralizing wore thin and he became a polarizing figure.

Interestingly, a new book reveals, he’s universally disliked by other members of the club.

New York Post (“Collective dislike among ex-presidents for former president Jimmy Carter“):

Former presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush have united — in their hatred of Jimmy Carter.

The former commanders-in-chief share a disdain for their fellow ex-president because he conducted foreign policy after leaving office without any authority from the White House, according to a new book. In “The Presidents Club: Inside the World’s Most Exclusive Fraternity,” former staffers even use the word “treason” to describe Carter’s actions.

“Carter gives the club a great gift, something for all the others to complain about,” the book by Time magazine’s Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy says.  ”When nothing seemed to unite the members, the club often bonded over what an annoying cuss Carter could be.” ”He just had this habit of going off script that could be very annoying to them,” Gibbs said yesterday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

While “treason” goes ridiculously too far, there’s little doubt that Carter’s view of himself as some sort of Über Secretary of State has made him a giant pain in the ass for his successors, particularly in recent years. In particular, his loud stance against the use of military force and his anti-Israel stance–both, frankly, a well needed pushback against conventional wisdom gone wrong–have been a constant irritant.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. James H says:

    Yikes. At first, I assumed Carter’s freelancing was the result of some kind of secret agreement with the White House — situations where a prestigious person was needed to handle something, but the White House couldn’t get involved for political reasons.

    But in the last decade or so, Carter’s gone so far off the reservation …

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  2. Hey Norm says:

    Those caddy little “mean girl” cliques always need to be hating on someone.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  3. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Referring to Carter’s term in office as “inept” is akin to calling New Orleans “corrupt” and Detroit “downtrodden.” That 40% voted to reelect Carter speaks volumes about the extent to which Zombieland is capable of attempting national suicide.

    That aside, what makes Carter’s post-2001 jumping of the shark tank all that more egregious is that he didn’t clue in and stop himself. He doubled down on stupid and then doubled down anew. Then again.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 5

  4. al-Ameda says:

    I’ll say this one thing for Carter, he was elected in 1976 the old fashioned way, by popular vote and the Electoral College, and without help from the Supreme Court.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 5

  5. An Interested Party says:

    …his anti-Israel stance…

    I’m curious…how much criticism can one level towards Israel before one is considered “anti-Israel”…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  6. James Joyner says:

    @An Interested Party: I myself am quite critical of Israeli policy, particularly the bullying posture of Likud. Carter goes too far, I think, in calling Israel an “apartheid state” and otherwise dismissing its legitimate and unique security interests.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

  7. @James Joyner:

    Carter goes too far, I think, in calling Israel an “apartheid state”

    At present, Israel allows Jews living in the west bank the right to vote in elections, but denies that franchise to Palestinians. Their rights to property and other civil liberties are generally not enforced by the courts. They’re not free to move about the country.

    In what way is it not an apartheid state?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 3

  8. HankP says:

    So they hate him because he’s correct on the issues? Nothing new there.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  9. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Stormy Dragon: At present, Israel allows Jews living in the west bank the right to vote in elections, but denies that franchise to Palestinians. Their rights to property and other civil liberties are generally not enforced by the courts. They’re not free to move about the country.

    In what way is it not an apartheid state?

    For one, the West Bank isn’t a “state.” It isn’t part of Israel proper. So there goes that part.

    Remember, “Apartheid” means, fundamentally, “separate.” The Israelis have granted the Palestinian Authority pretty much autonomy on the West Bank apart from the Jewish enclaves.

    By the way, in Israel Palestinians can live freely, are full citizens, and can even serve in the government and armed forces. In the Palestinian territories, there are zero Jews and “collaborating with the Zionists” — even engaging in a business deal with them — is a capital offense. “Collaborators” are rarely even afforded a trial.

    Oh, and Israel has a thriving gay community. Many of them are Palestinians and other Arabs who would be put to death in their homeland.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  10. Jenos Idanian says:

    I wouldn’t have thought it possible, but Carter has done more harm as an ex-president than as president.

    Before him, by and large, retired and quietly written their memoirs. Noted exceptions are Taft, TR, and JQ Adams. Taft served as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, TR returned to run again, and Adams served in Congress and was a major pain in the ass. But they did so through official channels. Carter simply decided that “ex-president” meant he was a freelance, autonomous diplomat who could negotiate with foreign states, then present the sitting US government with a fait accompli when he won “agreements.”

    Isn’t there some kind of law on the books about private citizens engaging in negotiations with foreign governments, interfering with the government’s legitimate interests and powers?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  11. Scott says:

    Why is it democrat ex-presidents can’t zip their pie holes? You had your turn, now go right some pathetic poetry or share a cigar with someone your daughter’s age, why don’t you?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  12. An Interested Party says:

    For one, the West Bank isn’t a “state.” It isn’t part of Israel proper. So there goes that part.

    Oh? Then why does it need to be occupied by Israel?

    Remember, “Apartheid” means, fundamentally, “separate.” The Israelis have granted the Palestinian Authority pretty much autonomy on the West Bank apart from the Jewish enclaves.

    Which is quite different from statehood…I believe the Aparthied government of South Africa also granted autonomy to the bantustans…

    By the way, in Israel Palestinians can live freely, are full citizens, and can even serve in the government and armed forces. In the Palestinian territories, there are zero Jews and “collaborating with the Zionists” — even engaging in a business deal with them — is a capital offense. “Collaborators” are rarely even afforded a trial.

    Oh, and Israel has a thriving gay community. Many of them are Palestinians and other Arabs who would be put to death in their homeland.

    None of this, of course, has anything to do with how Israel treats Palestinians in the territories…

    Why is it democrat [sic] ex-presidents can’t zip their pie holes? You had your turn, now go right some pathetic poetry or share a cigar with someone your daughter’s age, why don’t you?

    Oh, so Democratic ex-presidents should lose their right to free speech? That’s good to know…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1