So why do people hate Carter so much? Gene Healy suggests that it’s a case of perception over reality.
Carter-bashers seem obsessed with style over substance: that Mr. Rogers sweater, the “malaise” speech, Carter’s sanctimonious, unlovable public persona—the way he seemed to personify national decline.
People want the illusion of control: a comforting, competent father-protector at the helm of our national destiny—and Carter couldn’t fake that role as well as most presidents before or since.
Liberals downgrade the Carter presidency as one short on transformative visions: It brought no New Deals, no New Frontiers.
Instead, at its best, the Carter legacy was one of workaday reforms that made significant improvements in American life: cheaper travel and cheaper goods for the middle class.