With the recent release of the exquisitely pointless "White House Diary," his 25th entry in the literary sweepstakes, Mr. Carter has now written more books than James Joyce, Jane Austen, Gustave Flaubert, George Eliot, Virgil, Homer and Jonathan Franzen. He has also written more books than Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Lyndon Baines Johnson, Dwight Eisenhower, Woodrow Wilson, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and a whole lot of other presidents who got more points on the scoreboard than he ever did. Most ex-presidents have the good grace to stop at a single publication after they leave office, though more than a few have obligingly opted for the public's favorite number in this lethal genre: zero.Devastating on all counts, and it gets better from there. I've heard many people talk about Carter as someone who might not have been a good president, but has led a productive life after politics. But, as Steven Hayward points out in this book, Carter out of office has done almost as much damage to this country. Small-minded, petty, vindictive, jealous of the success of others, and an inhabitant of the far left, with an anti-American streak that demeans his status as a former president. (And how did he ever get there, anyway? I have a feeling that in a couple of years, Americans will be asking themselves the same question, and providing the same kind of answer.) So when you consider Carter's legacy, please don't let yourself get sucked in by the touchy-feeliness of his charitable activities. Look at his words, his actions, what he stands for, this failure of a politican, and then assess his legacy.
The Oval Office equivalent of the Edsel, Mr. Carter has spent three decades in the wilderness retrofitting his image as the best, the brightest, and the noblest ex-president of them all. This is like trying to get credit for touchdowns 30 years after the clock has run out, with the score reading Eureka College 50, Navy 0.
For those of you who were wondering: yes, Eureka is the alma mater of Ronald Reagan. ◙