Carter’s Cage of Crisis

Personal decency and morality did little to smooth the road for Jimmy Carter, president from 1977 to 1981.

American History for Truthdiggers: Carter’s Cage of Crisis
Maj. Danny Sjursen, Jun 08, 2019 Opinion | TD originals

An honest look at the administration of my favorite president. The activities of his post-presidency … examples at… clearly show his character. Includes a quick look at Operation Eagle Claw at the end of this article, a PRIME example of military prejudices and lack of both planning and coordination that characterized the DoD at that time. This is not to say those characteristics don’t exist within the DoD today as well, where at that level, the DoD politics typically comes before capability, but were even more rampant in that era.

~ Don Chapin

Original Editor’s note: The past is prologue. The stories we tell about ourselves and our forebears inform the sort of country we think we are and help determine public policy. As our current president promises to “make America great again,” this moment is an appropriate time to reconsider our past, look back at various eras of United States history and re-evaluate America’s origins. When, exactly, were we “great”?

Below is the 32nd installment of the “American History for Truthdiggers” series, a pull-no-punches appraisal of our shared, if flawed, past. The author of the series, Danny Sjursen, who retired recently as a major in the U.S. Army, served military tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and taught the nation’s checkered, often inspiring past when he was an assistant professor of history at West Point. His war experiences, his scholarship, his skill as a writer and his patriotism illuminate these Truthdig posts.

There would never have been a Democratic president in 1977, certainly not a President Jimmy Carter, were it not for Watergate, Richard Nixon’s disgrace and the public backlash against Tricky Dick’s Republican Party. Indeed, after the fall of Lyndon B. Johnson, a new era of Republican ascendancy had begun, with the GOP holding the presidency for 20 of the 24 years following Nixon’s 1968 election. Often remembered as one of America’s most feckless and uninspiring presidents, Carter in reality was neither as successful as his supporters had hoped nor as ineffective as his opponents later claimed. He was, ultimately, a transitional figure and a product of the 1970s, which were increasingly politically conservative although heavily colored by cultural liberalism, especially among the young. Though later portrayed by the right as a hopelessly left-wing liberal, Carter was actually quite pragmatic and became the first of the three Democratic presidents who served between 1977 and 2017 to tack toward the right. In that sense, one could argue that Carter reflected and affected the prevailing conservative winds and started the country down the road toward the “Reagan Revolution” and a long-term rightward trend in American politics.

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