If Jimmy Carter was re-elected for a second term....

What would the ramifications have been for the United States and the rest of the world?

I remember the hostage crisis and the wavering stance the United States appeared to have. Classified documents years later showed the administration’s’shrewd operation with Canada in bringing home the six diplomats in hiding. Operation Eagle Claw was a catastrophic disaster - one that was a rescue mission similar to Entebbe in 1976. It failed to get past the first stage. It finalised the image of Carter being a weak and stumbling president for many people.

However if it succeeded Carter surely would have got a tremendous boost in approval. Ronald Reagan won in an electoral college landslide but his popular vote percentage was 50.7%. Carter’s narrow electoral college victory over Gerald Ford in 1976 saw his popular vote at 50.1%.

Of course John Anderson as a third party candidate received 6 million votes and 6% of the vote. He especially got a good rapport from young people. Then there were the Ted Kennedy liberals which split the party in the primaries.

All of this shows Carter had mounting problems at his desk in 1980.

However last night I watched his “Crisis of Confidence” speech again. I watched it on July 15th 1979 - as did an estimated 100 million people. The speech in hindsight is almost prophetic. The video below provides a short extract of relevant passages to today:

Contrary to popular opinion that speech was actually favourable among the American people in the immediate aftermath. It was Ted Kennedy who populised the "malaise" caricature - that Carter was talking that the best days are over.

Carter’s energy legislation and speeches highlighted our over-dependence on foreign oil, and the problems the addiction to consumption was taking this country down to.

With his wife Rosalynn Carter’s involvement, a national commission on mental health was formed (the first of its kind). Legislation passed shortly before the 1980 election to allow federal grants to mental health centers, to improve the progress and understanding of mental health and training of mental health professionals. Ronald Reagan in his first year repealed the law.

In foreign policy he had the Camp David peace treaty between Egypt and Israel which still stands today. Granted the courageous leadership of Sadat and Begin is the most notable act for two leaders in that region to want to talk peace. The British had viewed Begin as a terrorist. Sadat paid the price through a bullet. It was Carter who mediated the talks, going through the pain-staking back and forth of writing and rewriting conditions, studying the geo-politics and who ultimately showed the most perseverance when there seemed to be no end to grid-lock. I doubt today a President would be allowed to spend 13 days in isolation with two other leaders but that was historic.

The fundamental issue of Reagan’s election is the rise of the religious right. Gerald Ford who was the last Republican president actually hated the so-called “moral majority” for using Christianity and the military as political weaponry. Trickle-down economics was made a Republican 101 by Reagan. The divide of income inequality and classism took a large jump from his administration to now. Ironically in relative terms he ran a higher deficit that Carter - which Rand Paul has noted making him an exception to the modern GOP who worship at Reagan’s altar.

I am not saying Carter was a man who metaphorically died for our sins. The buck stops with the President and he had a lot of problems. But I think it’s fair to say history has been kinder to him than his contemporaries were and perhaps if we listened to his words, the country wouldn’t have reached the division we are in today. The division is bigger than the man in the Oval Office and affects all areas of society. Jimmy Carter said that when he occupied the Oval Office and as I said - it’s prophetic words given who occupies it now and the state of affairs.

What do you say?

I say division in politics did not start with Reagan and has ups and downs since his departure. It would be unfair to point at current political divisions as stemming from just one person. Yes, even Trump.

You can read in the Supreme Court thread my opinions on the matter, but Carter was a casualty of Roe v. Wade. The Moral Majority was created by Roe v. Wade and Carter was simply a casualty of the abortion wars.

You are correct - if Jimmy Carter weren’t such a bumbling incompetent, he might have been re-elected. Unfortunately, he was in way over his head, and I don’t mean by being attacked by floating bunnies.

He campaigned very hard for his Nobel prize, and that may be some of why “history” is kinder to him than he deserves. Habitat for Humanity was nice, North Korea and later accusations of human rights violations against Israel less so.

If my aunt had balls, she’d be my uncle, and would probably make a better President than Mr. Peanut.


Chalk me up as another one who doesn’t understand the Carter love fest. Carter was a casualty of Carter. He was a governor of a small state for only 4 years, with only that as experience as a real executive. His micro management didn’t help him. He beat a very weakened President Ford with only 50.1 percent of the vote. The economy was a mess, he didn’t handle the Russians or the Iranian crisis very well and was seen as weak on the world stage.

I think you’re skewing your data in an attempt to portray Carter as more popular than he was. While you have Carter’s percentage correct, he lost to Reagan by 8.5 million votes. It was hardly a nail biter. Anderson as you point out received another 6.6 million votes. But you failed to point out that as a previous Republican, the majority of the those votes would probably have gone to Reagan, making his victory over Carter in the 11 to 12 million vote range. In short, he was tossed out of office pretty strongly.

Let us not forget: Reagan sabotaged talks between Carter and the Iranians in order to prevent them being released prior to the election. The mullahs were convinced that they would get a better deal from Reagan than Carter, so they hung onto the hostages in order to hurt Carter. Indeed, they waited until just after Reagan was sworn in to release them. Indeed, Iran was richly rewarded with arms in the Iran-Contra scandal.

Carter told some unpleasant truths: we needed to conserve energy and achieve energy independence. He also brokered the peace between Egypt and Israel, no small feat. Today’s easy path to election is to tell lies (coal jobs are coming back) or kowtow to the Israelis. He was an honest broker for middle east peace.

In the ranking of US presidents in my lifetime, I put them thus:

1- Johnson
2- Obama
3- Carter

Please show me cite for this gem:

There’s a common thread here, if only I could figure out what it could be :confused::confused:

I just calls 'em like I sees 'em.

Carter is likely one of our best EX-Presidents ever. Yes, he was a likeable guy, with a good moral compass, but he really wasnt presidential material.

By the time the campaign was in full swing, Carter had been, to some degree, marginalized. Political cartoons (even the Democratic-leaning ones) showed him as a diminutive figure, knee high to the “adults” in the frame. He was considered weak (“Mush from the Wimp” was a working title on an editorial in the Boston Globe(!) that accidentally made it into print), indecisive, and ineffective. Running against the popular and charismatic Reagan, he never stood a chance.

Would the success of the Eagle Claw operation have made a difference? It certainly wouldn’t have hurt. Enough of a difference? Who knows.

Would George H. W. Bush not looking at his watch during the debate and not expressing amazement at a grocery scanner have made a difference in his campaign against the popular and charismatic Bill Clinton? Probably not.

That’s the M.O. on which our current president campaigned, y’know…