Magazine | June 11, 2018, Issue

Letters

Former President Jimmy Carter at a Carter Center event in 2015 (John Amis/Reuters)

Carter Criticism

I believe Jay Nordlinger was too generous in his assessment of Stuart Eizenstat’s book President Carter: The White House Years (“Carter from the Inside,” May 14). Not only does this book perpetuate a number of myths about Reagan, it continues a good many of them about Carter, some of which have become popular talking points in Democratic folklore.

One that Mr. Nordlinger touches on is that the ultimate credit for “taming” inflation lies with Carter’s appointment of Paul Volcker as Federal Reserve chairman. Eizenstat’s book says that Carter gave Volcker “free rein” and that Carter threw in “his lot with Volcker” to beat inflation. The actual story is a bit more complicated. For one thing, Carter began to criticize the Fed late in his 1980 campaign. In a stop in October, Carter said that the “strictly monetary approach to the Fed’s decision on the discount rate and other banking policies is ill advised.” Reagan, on the other hand, as noted by Volcker himself in PBS’s Commanding Heights, “never criticized me directly in public.” Volcker even credited Reagan’s busting of the air-traffic controllers’ trade union as a “watershed” moment in the fight against inflation. To me, it has always been questionable that a second-term Carter would have stood by, ignoring the complaints of organized labor, as Volcker continued to tighten the screws over the next few years.

Mr. Nordlinger also brought up Carter’s “new emphasis” on human rights. Indeed there was one, but where the rubber met the road the Carter administration wound up having to make some of the same moves that the Reagan administration later did, e.g., supporting the junta in El Salvador, vetoing sanctions against South Africa at the U.N., and supporting the mujahideen in Afghanistan. Ironically enough, these were actions for which many Democrats criticized Reagan (and still do).

Ryan Anderson
Greer, S.C.

A Classy Movie

Kyle Smith’s “A Culture of Enmity” (May 14) — a finely written and mostly perceptive treatment of the main currents of our cultural decadence — disappoints in one important respect: his choice of James Cameron’s 1998 movie Titanic as “a glorious, unifying moment in our culture.”

While this movie did offer some of the most stunningly beautiful and most fully realized images ever seen onscreen, as well as some very fine acting, the writing — the main dish, so to speak — provided little more than a facile study in class warfare of a kind that might bring a blush to the most ardent Marxian. The first-class passengers were almost universally characterized as condescending, snarky brutes in fine clothes, while the real people — those in steerage — were all paragons of virtue. Moreover, in the film’s superfluously attenuated catastrophe, two contrasting characterizations are instructive. Jack, Rose’s low-class love interest, is depicted as a resourceful, decisive hero, while John Jacob Astor (once regarded as a hero because he was said to have enjoined the men of first class to don their evening clothes in the wee hours of their doom so that they might face death as gentlemen) is treated as a clueless, stumbling moron. In short, the engineers of capitalism are seen as cruel buffoons, while their “victims,” the proles, are the true exemplars of humanity.

I for one did not feel so unified after watching this movie. It was pretty to look at, but the main dish was unadulterated smarm.

Henry E. Blackwell
Fleming Island, Fla.

NR Editors includes members of the editorial staff of the National Review magazine and website.

In This Issue

Articles

Features

Books, Arts & Manners

Sections

The Week

The Week

Barack Obama signed a contract with Netflix. Now he’ll be working for the media instead of the other way around.
Athwart

Going Postal

The president is displeased with Amazon, which seems odd; it’s like reading “George H. W. Bush was spitting mad at Sears.”

Most Popular

Culture

What We’ve Learned about Jussie Smollett

It’s been a few weeks since March 26, when all charges against Jussie Smollett were dropped and the actor declared that his version of events had been proven correct. How’s that going? Smollett’s celebrity defenders have gone quiet. His publicists and lawyers are dodging reporters. The @StandwithJussie ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Lessons of the Mueller Probe

Editor’s Note: The following is the written testimony submitted by Mr. McCarthy in connection with a hearing earlier today before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on the Mueller Report (specifically, the first volume of the report, which addresses Russia’s interference in the 2016 ... Read More
Elections

Kamala Harris Runs for Queen

I’m going to let you in on a secret about the 2020 presidential contest: Unless unforeseen circumstances lead to a true wave election, the legislative stakes will be extremely low. The odds are heavily stacked against Democrats’ retaking the Senate, and that means that even if a Democrat wins the White House, ... Read More
World

Why Are the Western Middle Classes So Angry?

What is going on with the unending Brexit drama, the aftershocks of Donald Trump’s election, and the “yellow vests” protests in France? What drives the growing estrangement of southern and eastern Europe from the European Union establishment? What fuels the anti-EU themes of recent European elections and ... Read More
Energy & Environment

The Climate Trap for Democrats

The more the climate debate changes, the more it stays the same. Polls show that the public is worried about climate change, but that doesn’t mean that it is any more ready to bear any burden or pay any price to combat it. If President Donald Trump claws his way to victory again in Pennsylvania and the ... Read More
White House

Sarah Sanders to Resign at End of June

Sarah Huckabee Sanders will resign from her position as White House press secretary at the end of the month, President Trump announced on Twitter Thursday afternoon. https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1139263782142787585 Sanders, the daughter of former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, succeeded Sean ... Read More
Politics & Policy

But Why Is Guatemala Hungry?

I really, really don’t want to be on the “Nicolas Kristof Wrote Something Dumb” beat, but, Jiminy Cricket! Kristof has taken a trip to Guatemala, with a young woman from Arizona State University in tow. “My annual win-a-trip journey,” he writes. Reporting from Guatemala, he discovers that many ... Read More