« SCOTUS decision today on Texas redistricting case is no big deal | Main | How 'bout them Astros? »

Monday, October 18, 2004

Best line I've heard tonight

I do, in fact, support the reelection of George W. Bush. While I'm not overjoyed with Bush, I think that electing John F. Kerry at this juncture would be like electing the ugly bastard child of Jimmy Carter and Millard Fillmore — in 1940.

InstaPundit, who allows in an update that this comparison is probably unfair to Millard Fillmore. 

What scares me is that the reference also may even be unfair, believe it or not, to Jimmy Carter, who without question was the most feckless, ineffective president of my own lifetime.  After all, even the debacle that became known as Desert One wouldn't have passed the "global test."

The burned out wreckage of one of the RH-53 Sea Stallion helicopters was discovered and photographed the next morning by the Iranian military. An intact RH-53 sits in the background. It was decided during the evacuation from Desert One not to destroy the remaining helicopters for fear of damaging the C-130s, the force’s ride out of Iran. 'The accident was a calamity heaped on despair. It was devastating,' wrote retired Col. James Kyle in his book, 'The Guts to Try.' He was the on-scene commander at Desert One.

The Iranian mullahs had sized up Jimmy Carter exactly right, and played him like a fiddle.  Do you doubt that their fingers are twitching today, watching John Kerry's quest for the White House, and that they're humming the tunes they believe they can induce him to play?   Oh, I'm not suggesting Sen. Kerry, if elected, will let them play him on purpose.  But then, neither did Carter — and yet play him they did. 

Some people, in this 2004 election season, are talking about American prestige around the world being at a historical low point.  I'm sorry, folks, but that's only the kind of thing someone too young to remember the Iranian hostage crisis, or someone stupid enough to have forgotten it, could say with a straight face.  President Carter informing the nation of the failed attempt to rescue the American hostages held in Iran America was the laughing-stock of the world, and Jimmy Carter was Gulliver, the sleeping, pitiful giant bound by a thousand Lilliputian strings. 

There's not a government on the face of the earth, friendly or unfriendly, that has any doubt about whether Dubya would respond to something like the Iranian hostage crisis in the way that Carter did.  And that, friends and neighbors, makes the world a safer place.  Not a "safe place" — there are nonstate actors yet to contend with, and state actors who'd never dare try something like seizing 66 hostages in an American embassy and holding them for 444 days, but might still try lesser mischief.  But we've broken the strings of the Lilliputians, and as Gregory Djerejian persuasively writes, that's in and of itself a damn good reason to return George W. Bush for another four years. 

Update (Tue Oct 19 @ 12:30am): A quick clarification:  I do credit Carter for finally trying something bold to rescue the American hostages held in Iran, and of course I salute the American military personnel who made the attempt with the best of intentions.  I'm not at all sure that a President Kerry would have that much gumption, which is why I began by saying that the comparison of him to Carter may be unfair to the latter.

Posted by Beldar at 09:12 PM in Politics (2006 & earlier) | Permalink


Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to Best line I've heard tonight and sent a trackback ping are listed here:


(1) LazyMF made the following comment | Oct 18, 2004 11:09:27 PM | Permalink

From Dictionary.com:


1. Lacking purpose or vitality; feeble or ineffective. (See Ford administration).

2. Careless and irresponsible. (See Nixon administration).

(2) Kalle (kafir forever) made the following comment | Oct 18, 2004 11:37:22 PM | Permalink

Carter was the catalyst for the rise of radical European anti-American movements (inspiring the "Rather Red Than Dead" German cowards), the invasion of Afghanistan by the Sovet Union, and the takeover of Iran by the Mullah madmen.

This was the time when I, a European teenager born in the wrong country, started to doubt the long-term prospects of the West due to American weakness. Thank God for Thatcher and Reagan.

Thank you Beldar for all your eloquent and truthful comments.

(3) danny made the following comment | Oct 18, 2004 11:39:05 PM | Permalink

I dare say that the last two democrat presidents saw US prestige drop to all time lows. Clinton was not much better at all. History will repeat itself again if another democrat is elected.

(4) Keith made the following comment | Oct 19, 2004 1:02:07 AM | Permalink

"Some people, in this 2004 election season, are talking about American prestige around the world being at a historical low point."
You know, I read a lot about how badly America is regarded by the people of other countries and I think it's simply untrue. Peddling that line suits the anti-Bush crowd and the lefty media are only too happy to help, yet where I live (remote Australia) I come into contact with people from all over the world and the number who hold America in high regard is amazing. Totally at odds with what I read in our newspapers every day.
Americans have millions of friends around the world, deeply grateful for her stand for liberty.
Please remember that, America.

(5) perfectsense made the following comment | Oct 19, 2004 1:22:16 AM | Permalink

Both Carter and Kerry have been vigorously undermining America since the 1970s. If elected, at least Kerry will be checked by Republican house and Senate. Carter had large Democrat majorities in both the house and senate and still stumbled from disaster to disaster. Like Kerry blaming a secret service agent for falling down while skiing, Carter blamed the American people for his ineptness.

(6) MaDr made the following comment | Oct 19, 2004 4:48:36 AM | Permalink

Carter was the original "Blame America First" president. Clinton, though not as blatant, was at least a "blame America" president - he sure did a lot of apologizing. Kerry is just trying to make it three (democrats) in a row.

(7) Mikey made the following comment | Oct 19, 2004 8:21:15 AM | Permalink

I remember the Carter presidency very well. I was delivering newspapers and would read all about the hostage crisis. The appeasement of the Carter administration drove me right and the memory of that has kept me right. I could not care less about most social issues, but foreign policy and national defense, yes, I do care. Greatly. No appeasement, eternal vigilence, heavily armed.

(8) DRJ made the following comment | Oct 19, 2004 8:58:46 AM | Permalink

Both Carter and Kerry were Naval officers. In my experience, Naval officers are more likely to embrace Democratic or liberal views than Army or Air Force officers. A recent Military Times subscribers' poll showed military personnel from all branches backed Bush 4-to-1, but it doesn't breakdown rankings by service branch or pay grade.

Would it matter if Naval officers are generally more liberal? It shouldn't from a professional military standpoint. But it strikes me that liberal military officers would be more conflicted over the use of force and that this conflict poses an inherent philosophical dilemma for a military officer. We've seen such conflicts and dilemmas from both Carter and Kerry.

(9) Gary and the Samoyeds made the following comment | Oct 19, 2004 10:07:37 AM | Permalink


Actually, MOST of our recent Presidents were naval men: Bush (41), Carter (as you said), Nixon, LBJ, JFK.

(10) DRJ made the following comment | Oct 19, 2004 1:49:03 PM | Permalink

"Actually, MOST of our recent Presidents were naval men: Bush (41), Carter (as you said), Nixon, LBJ, JFK."

Weren't these Presidents all conflicted when it came to prosecuting war? I'm no expert on the past 50 years, but I did live through them. It seems to me that Reagan, Bush (43), and even Clinton were committed to the military decisions they made.

Of course, LBJ wasn't that much of a Navy man, so I'm not sure that counts either way.

Having said that, perhaps this is simply proof of the superior social skills that Naval officers have always demonstrated.

(11) Bruce made the following comment | Oct 19, 2004 7:31:25 PM | Permalink

A couple of points as a former Naval officer (and a Chief Petty Officer before that):

(1) May I respectfully point out that the group "naval officers" includes a small but lethal subset known as SEALS. Those guys scare me just by looking cross. (Doesn't address DRJ's posts directly but I felt it my duty to try to uphold the honor of "haze grey and underway." ;) Having SEALS around always made me feel safe. That or Marines. In a fight it's always comforting to see the Marines on the horizon coming your way.)

(2) I was on active duty when Carter was elected and I saw WAY more officers ready to hit something than I did ready to celebrate. Onboard that morning it looked like someone had died NOT like someone we were proud of had been elected. Carter might have been a nuke - he gets big brainiac points for that - but nobody I remember from then was under any illusion that he was anything but a wimp.

(3) The number of officers who ever served on a fleet ballistic missile submarine who were "conflicted" about the use of force is vanishingly small. Being ready to send a Poseidon carrying a handful of MIRVs on its way isn't for the faint of heart. I suspect the same can be said of pilots and shipdrivers of all kinds.

(4) Finally, when I went to knife and fork school to learn how to be an officer and a gentleman, the only superior social skill I picked up was to hold my little finger in the air while throwing rolls in a wardroom food fight.

Perhaps the common denominator among the Presidents you mentioned isn't having been a naval officer but being the kind of person who feels qualified and eager to be the President. After all, all squares are rectangles but not very rectangle is a square.

(12) MD made the following comment | Oct 20, 2004 10:37:46 AM | Permalink

Little Green Footballs has a summary of Carter's recent interview with Chris Matthews. It's an eye-opener, if only because Carter now claims the Revolutionary War (yes, THAT Revolutionary War) need not have been fought. Carter is now into the alternative history genre.

I think the most telling moment of Carter's presidency was his "malaise speech." In that speech, Carter projected his own inner futility onto an entire nation. Compare Carter's deep sense of national "malaise" with Reagan's optimism, and it's easy to see, in retrospect, why Reagan prevailed, not only in the election but in his presidency.

As for the now mandatory reports of a loss of US prestige in the world, the lead should read as follows:

"Some people, in this 2004 election season, are talking about American prestige around the world being at a historical low point among the liberal elites in European capitals."

These "reports" are issued by the elites, reporting on the elites, for the elites.

The comments to this entry are closed.