Jimmy Carter: Don’t Ever Let American Hostages Be Held For 444 Days In A Foreign Country

America’s 39th President talks about his biggest failure:

Former President Jimmy Carter says his biggest failure during his term in the White House was that he didn’t get to spend another four years there.

“I guess my biggest failure was not getting reelected,” he said in an interview with Big Think, referring to the 1980 presidential election.

Carter, 86, said the loss taught him “not to ever let American hostages be held for 444 days in a foreign country without extracting them.”

Gee, do you think?

FILED UNDER: Open Forum,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. john personna says:

    Well, they came home. As America’s longest running land wars continue, perhaps some new perspective.

  2. James Joyner says:

    Indeed, letting American sovereign soil being occupied and its diplomats held hostage for a mere year — as they were on Election Day 1980 — proved precarious. The extra few weeks were just insult to injury.

  3. JKB says:

    Well it wasn’t just that he left Americans in enemy hands for over a year while he went on self imposed home arrest. It was also the failure of Operation Eagle Claw, giving the impression the American military had been broken by the Vietnam, and Carter’s micromanagement of that operation. But it all was on top of years of president droopy dog and his belief that America was over.

    The hostages were a symbol of Carter’s view of a failed America. Reagan came in and actually gave hope for change.

  4. wr says:

    The hostages were a symbol of America’s fondness for overthrowing democratically elected leaders we didn’t like and installing dictators who would torture and murder their citizens while allowing US corporations to make billions. Reagan came in and happily continued that policy, supporing the murder of uncounted numbers of innocent civilians in Central and South America. But he said “Yay America!” a lot, so that made people feel good here, and that’s all that counts.

  5. Alex Knapp says:

    So the real lesson here is, get hostages out by any means necessary — even if that means selling military arms to their captors and using the proceeds to fund terrorist organizations….

  6. john personna says:

    I guess I need to be harsher in my lesson.

    Get live hostages back after a year (plus): failure

    Meet body bags at airports for years: success