It seems Chris Matthews isn't the only former speechwriter for the Carter administration that's tired of Mitt Romney out there trashing his old boss on the campaign trail. Matthews took him apart during his "Let Me Finish" segment this Thursday evening, and The Atlantic's James Fallows, ripped him up in his column earlier this week.
Mitt Romney informs us that the raid that took out Osama bin Laden one year ago was no big deal, because "even Jimmy Carter would have given that order."
Necessary disclosure: I worked for Jimmy Carter and admire his intentions, his character, and many of his achievements, although I am not usually considered an uncritical booster of his record as president.
But let's remember:
1) Jimmy Carter is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy who spent ten years in the uniformed service of his country. As far as I can tell, this is ten years more than the cumulative service of all members of the Romney clan. [...]
2) Jimmy Carter did indeed make a gutsy go/no-go call. It turned out to be a tactical, strategic, and political disaster. You can read the blow-by-blow in Mark Bowden's retrospective of "The Desert One Debacle." With another helicopter, the mission to rescue U.S. diplomats then captive in Teheran might well have succeeded -- and Carter is known still to believe that if the raid had succeeded, he would probably have been re-elected. Full discussion another time, but I think he's right. (Even with the fiasco, and a miserable "stagflation" economy, the 1980 presidential race was very close until the very end.)
But here's the main point about Carter. Deciding to go ahead with that raid was a close call. Carter's own Secretary of State, Cyrus Vance, had opposed the raid and handed in his resignation even before the results were known. And it was a daring call -- a choice in favor of a risky possible solution to a festering problem, knowing that if it went wrong there would be bad consequences all around, including for Carter himself. So if you say "even Jimmy Carter" to mean "even a wimp," as Romney clearly did, you're showing that you don't know the first thing about the choice he really made.
3) Precisely because of the consequences of Carter's failure, Obama was the more daring in making his go/no-go decision.
More there so go read the rest, but he and Matthews are definitely on the same page with their defense of Carter. And as Ed Kilgore noted, who flagged the Fallows op-ed in his column here pointed out:
Since Romney in particular and Republicans generally keep trying to make this election a rerun of 1980, they’d probably do well to get their facts a little straighter about Jimmy Carter (and while they are at it, about Ronald Reagan the serial tax-hiker).
Transcript of Matthews' comments from his blog below the fold.
Let me finish tonight with this: Mitt Romney just took another shot at former President Jimmy Carter.
Okay Mitt, you picked this fight. So let's start with guts.
President Carter had the guts to take two warring countries--Israel and Egypt--to Camp David and come back with a peace treaty. Carter had the guts when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan to cut off grain shipments to the invader even if it hurt American farmers on the eve of the Iowa caucuses. He refused to send American athletes to the Moscow Olympics. Why? Because he knew this was a way to reach the Soviet Union where it hurts.
President Carter had the guts to give the Panamanians control of the Panama Canal against all the right wing hootin' and hollerin'. That's right. Things didn't turn out right for him--that's the politics of the thing--and he took it hard. But whatever you say about Carter, he regularly, relentlessly, did the things that were good for the country: pushing human rights around the world, pushing for energy conservation (the country club boys had a lot of fun with that one!), pushing for an end to nuclear non-proliferation.
He worried about the things we worry about today and took stands that needed to be taken, like making sure nuclear weapons didn't get in the hands of the wrong people. Reagan, remember, said that was none of our concern.
Speaking of which, it's not really, when you think about it, all that gutsy to call for tax cuts. It's not gutsy to say, "Fill 'er up!" and go buy yourself a big car. It's not gutsy, Mitt, to buckle to Grover Nordquist and sign any piece of paper he puts in front of you on taxes so he won't take you off his "list," or buckle to the neo-cons by installing them all around you, or buckling to the right and dumping any gay staffer who dares show himself.
When is Mitt Romney entitled to question Jimmy Carter? Try this on for size Mitt: the first time you show a whit of the guts that man, Jimmy Carter, did again and again and again.
H/t Captain Kangaroo
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