Selective Interpretation Trump’s Analogies Raise Concerns About Saddlebagging Biden With Carter’s Legacy

Selective Interpretation: Trump’s Analogies Raise Concerns About Saddlebagging Biden With Carter’s Legacy

As Donald Trump campaigned for re-election, he frequently compared President Joe Biden to 99-year-old Jimmy Carter, spanning more than 40 years and seven administrations.

Most recently, Trump used his first campaign event after the commencement of his criminal hush money trial in New York to criticize the 46th president, claiming that the 39th president, a newly widowed hospice patient who left office in 1981, was selfishly satisfied with Biden’s record.

“Biden is the worst president in the history of our country, worse than Jimmy Carter by a long shot,” Trump remarked in a variation of a line he has used throughout the 2024 campaign, even on former first lady Rosalynn Carter’s deathbed. “Jimmy Carter is happy,” Trump added of the two Democrats, “because he had a brilliant presidency compared to Biden.”

It was formerly usual for Republicans such as Donald Trump to mock Carter. Many Democrats, including Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, stayed away for years following Carter’s overwhelming defeat in 1980, which was caused by a shaky economy, energy shortages, and an extended American hostage crisis. The unfavorable vibrations faded, however, as time passed and people reconsidered Carter’s record as a political leader, Nobel laureate, and worldwide humanitarian.

That raises concerns among some observers, particularly Democrats, about Trump’s efforts to saddle Biden with the decades-old baggage of a fragile man who ended his public life last November by silently leading the grief for his wife of 77 years.

“It’s just a very dated reference,” said pollster Zac McCrary, whose Alabama-based business previously worked for Biden. “It would be like a Democrat attacking Gerald Ford, Herbert Hoover, or William McKinley. It means nothing to voters other than Trump taking a cheap attack on a guy who, most Americans believe, has contributed significantly to his country and the globe.

Trump supporters argue that even a near-centenarian is fair game in the rough and tumble-world of presidential politics.

“I was saying it probably before President Trump: Joe Biden’s worse than Jimmy Carter,” said Georgia resident Debbie Dooley, an early national tea party organizer during Obama’s first term and a Trump supporter since early in the 2016 campaign. Dooley argued that inflation under Biden warrants the parallel: “I’m old enough to remember the gas lines under President Carter.”

Any comparison, of course, entails selective interpretation, and Trump’s decision to include a third president in the campaign complicates matters for all three — and maybe ironic for Trump, who, like Carter, was rejected by voters after one term.

The Trump campaign did not react to a request for comment on his analogies, while Biden’s campaign dismissed them. “Donald Trump is flailing and struggling to land coherent attacks on President Biden,” spokesman Seth Schuster stated.

Carter is still at home in Plains, Georgia, where those close to him say he is keeping up with the campaign. Biden is Carter’s closest ally in the White House since his departure. Biden was a first-term lawmaker from Delaware when he became the first senator to support Carter’s underdog candidacy. After winning the White House, Biden and first lady Jill Biden paid a visit to the Carters in Plains. They met privately with a sad Carter before Rosalynn Carter’s burial in Atlanta last year.

Like Carter, Biden is running for reelection at a time when Americans are concerned about inflation. However, today’s economy is not the same as the one Carter faced. The post-pandemic recovery, fuelled by stimulus spending by the United States and other governments, has been blamed for global inflation. The Federal Reserve responded by raising interest rates.

However, the effective federal funds rate is currently 5.33%, but the benchmark was above 17% for a significant stretch before the 1980 election. Rates on a 30-year mortgage are around half of what they were during Carter’s administration, and unemployment is less than half of what it was. The average per-gallon gas price in the United States has risen to $3.60 this month, surpassing the $3 peak achieved under Trump. It rose to $4.50 (adjusted for inflation) during Carter’s final year in office.

Carter and Trump do have certain points of agreement. They are the most obvious Washington outsiders in modern history to win the presidency, each fuelled by voter dissatisfaction with the establishment.

Carter, a little-known Georgia governor and peanut farmer, capitalized on the repercussions of Vietnam and the Watergate affair. Trump was a nationalist businessman and reality television celebrity who promised to “make America great again.” Both men defy ideological labels, distinguishing out for their willingness to speak with dictators and isolated nations like North Korea, even if they gave differing reasons.

Carter warned his party against underestimating Trump’s support, and the Carters attended Trump’s 2017 inauguration. Jimmy Carter, on the other hand, openly chastised Trump for his tendency to lie. After Carter stated that Russian propaganda helped Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016, Trump began to mock Carter as a loser.

Unlike Carter, Trump never conceded defeat. He falsely claimed that the 2020 election was stolen, then propagated bogus election theories that were echoed by supporters in the mob that rushed the United States Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, when Congress gathered to ratify Biden’s win. Trump left Washington on the morning of Biden’s inauguration, making him the first president to do so since Andrew Johnson in 1869.

Carter conceded to Republican Ronald Reagan, attended his inauguration, and returned to Georgia. He and Rosalynn Carter launched The Carter Center in 1982. They spent decades pushing for democracy, resolving international conflicts, and improving public health in poor countries. They worked with Habitat for Humanity to build houses for low-income families. Jimmy Carter received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002.

Many historians’ assessments of Carter’s presidency have softened.

He is recognized with deregulating most of the transportation industry, making air travel more affordable for Americans, and establishing the Department of Energy to streamline and coordinate the country’s energy research. He brokered the Camp David peace agreement between Egypt and Israel.

He diversified both the federal judiciary and the executive branch. He chose Paul Volcker, the Federal Reserve chairman, who, together with Reagan, was credited with driving economic development in the 1980s. Carter was the first president to express alarm about rising global temperatures. Carter and his diplomatic team secured the release of American hostages in Tehran, but they were not released until minutes after Carter’s term finished.

Throughout Carter’s tenth decade, biographies, documentaries, and news coverage reviewed his record.

By 2015, a Quinnipiac University survey indicated that 40% of registered voters thought Carter had done the best job since leaving office among presidents from Carter to George W. Bush. When Gallup questioned respondents last year how they thought Carter handled his presidency, 57% approved and 36% disagreed. (Trump received 46% approval and 54% disapproval at the time, the first retroactive poll Gallup performed for him.)

“There has long been a general consensus of admiration for Carter as a person—that sentiment that he was a good and decent man,” said Amber Roessner, a University of Tennessee professor who studies collective public memory and has written extensively about Carter. The most recent judgments regarding Carter as a president, she continued, imply “we should consider Carter’s presidency as a lens to think about reevaluating how we gauge the failure or success of any administration.”

Roessner said it’s unclear how this will affect Biden’s rematch with Trump.

Regardless of what the 45th president says, the bonds between the 39th and 46th presidents remain strong. When the time comes for Carter’s state funeral, Trump is expected to be invited along with the other living successors. But Biden will offer the eulogy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *