The Corner

A Complete Answer to all My Critics

Peter argues that a number of recent presidents — Nixon, Johnson, Truman — have left office under a series of clouds and thus I was wrong to suggest that Carter was an aberration in that respect. Two points in reply:

First, I still maintain that Carter was exceptional both because he was openly rejected by leading members of his own party as well as by the general public, and because his rejection was prompted by the failure of his major domestic and foreign policies rather than by a single issue, such as the Vietnam War (Johnson), or by a single moral-cum-constitutional failing, such as Watergate (Nixon.) In other words, Obama may fail but he is unlikely to fail comprehensively.

Second, insofar as Peter is correct, surely that strengthens my skepticism about Derb’s argument that Obama’s failure would damage race relations and destroy the Democrats. Not even Watergate destroyed the GOP–it regained power a few years later with Reagan. JFK took the White House eight years after Truman left it. Etc., My apologies, however, for overstating Carter’s percentage of the vote in 1980–41 per cent in a three-way race–and to Derb for clumsy writing that suggested he was in the grip of a “paranoid fantasy.” I meant to say, of course, that he was trying to drive the Democrats into a paranoid fantasy, perhaps to assist Hillary against Obama, more likely for his own private amusement.

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