When Joey Met Jimmy

With inflation and discontent on the rise, Delaware Democrat Joe Biden is drawing comparisons to Georgia Democrat and one-term president, Jimmy Carter, who served from 1976 until 1980. For Jon Miltimore, executive editor of the Foundation for Economic Education, the comparison makes sense on some levels. 

Both presidencies followed catastrophic wars, Vietnam and Afghanistan, “that ended badly and required massive amounts of deficit spending (and money printing).” In similar style, Carter and Biden “inherited troubled economies.” 

Inflation was already “north of 5 percent” when Carter took over, and unemployment was at 7.5 percent. For his part, Biden “took office during a pandemic that saw widespread government lockdowns, business closures, and unprecedented stimulus spending.”  

Carter’s legislative agenda required the Federal Reserve to expand the money supply. By December 1979, inflation was running at 13.3 percent. Biden’s “money pumping” sent the deficit to $2.8 trillion, the second-largest in history, followed by “a $1.5 trillion omnibus spending bill.”

Although there are no 1970s-style gas lines just yet, the average price of gasoline is nearly $5 a gallon, inflation is at a 40-year high, and, Miltimore reports, “stocks are red, with the Dow, S&P, and Nasdaq down 9.8 percent, 14 percent, and 23 percent year-to-date, respectively.” On the other hand, Miltimore finds, “a closer look at the Carter presidency shows Biden has not yet earned the comparison.”

The huge expansion of the money supply and federal spending began in 1965, long before Carter took office. Jimmy Carter did not sever the nation from the gold standard and did not start the Vietnam War. Carter appointed “inflation hawk” Paul Volcker to the Federal Reserve and the ensuing interest rate hikes “put the U.S. economy on a path to monetary healing.”  

Carter faced OPEC, a hostile oil cartel, and responded by slashing red tape, deregulating oil and natural gas prices, and increasing domestic oil production. By contrast, Biden “began to choke energy production and distribution through various executive orders, regulations, and treaties.” The result was the higher prices now evident on every hand.

Carter also “deregulated everything from railroads and beer to the airline and trucking industries, which put the U.S. economy on much sounder footing and helped propel the economic explosion of the 1980s.” As Miltimore concludes, “the Biden-Carter comparison is unfair—to Jimmy Carter,” without examination on other fronts.  

On Carter’s watch, Iran’s Islamic regime invaded the U.S. embassy in Tehran, took 52 Americans hostage, and held them in captivity for more than a year. Iran did not release the hostages while Carter was in office, but the Georgia Democrat never bequeathed billions in U.S. military equipment, including an airbase, to the Iranian regime. Biden did all that for the Taliban and even hired them for security, with deadly consequences.  

While Jimmy Carter was in office, his younger brother Billy got chummy with Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi, a major sponsor of terrorism. As the New York Times noted, Qaddafi gave $220,000 to the president’s brother, claiming it was “a loan related to business transactions carried out during two visits, in 1978 and 1979.” At Jimmy’s request, Billy registered as a foreign agent. Even so, in 1980 the U.S. Senate voted to investigate Billy Carter’s dealings with Libya. 

Billy capitalized on his redneck image to promote Billy Beer. “I’ve had this beer brewed up just for me,” Billy said in the ad copy. “I think it’s the best I ever tasted and I’ve tasted a lot.” True to form, the drunken Billy, who died in 1988, once urinated on a runway at the Atlanta airport as reporters looked on.  

Hunter Biden is reportedly more into crack cocaine, but Joe’s proud son has not yet marketed his own brand. Hunter is tight with several foreign regimes, including China, but he refuses to register as a foreign agent. Various investigations of Hunter have yielded no indictments, and before the 2020 election, 51 former intelligence community bosses said Hunter’s laptop was “Russian disinformation.” 

Move along folks, nothing to see here.  

Jimmy Carter’s chief of staff was Hamilton Jordan, which he pronounced “Jerden.” This bon vivant reportedly stared at the breasts of the Egyptian ambassador’s wife, explaining, “I have always wanted to see the pyramids.” Carter attorney general Benjamin Civiletti ordered the FBI to investigate Jordan over rumors that he snorted cocaine at Studio 54 in New York. Nothing came of it, and Carter’s Justice Department and FBI never branded critics of the administration “domestic terrorists” or anything of the sort.  

In The Real Jimmy Carter, Steven F. Hayward notes that Carter once praised segregationist Lester Maddox, the bigoted Georgia governor who barred African Americans from his restaurant. Maddox “has brought a standard of forthright expression and personal honesty to the governor’s office,” Carter said, “and I hope to live up to his standard.”

Biden was tight with segregationists John Stennis and Jim Eastland, and a big supporter of Democrat Senate boss Robert Byrd, a veteran of the Ku Klux Klan. Biden claimed that Byrd somehow “elevated the Senate.”

In 2020, Biden told African Americans they “ain’t black” if they failed to support him. Jimmy Carter never did anything like that, and the Georgia Democrat never told an autoworker he was “full of shit,” never called a woman a “lying dog-faced pony soldier,” and never branded a reporter a “stupid son of a bitch” for asking a simple question about inflation. 

Biden pressured Ukraine to fire a prosecutor, boasting that the “son of a bitch got fired,” and was replaced with “someone who is solid.” Jimmy Carter never did anything like that, but the Georgia Democrat did have an odd side. 

As it happened, Carter was the first president to have filed a UFO report. In August 1979, at the nadir of his presidency, Carter described an encounter with a crazed swimming rabbit on a Georgia Lake. Joe Biden has yet to report such a threat.

Biden has claimed that during the Six-Day War, he served as a liaison between the Israelis and Egyptians. That was in 1967, when Biden was 25 and still in law school plagiarizing papers. If anybody thought Biden is delusional, it would be hard to blame them. 

Comparisons of Joe Biden to Jimmy Carter are unfair to Carter, pretty much across the board. Unlike the Pétainist Biden, Jimmy Carter was not the dutiful puppet of the Democrats’ far Left. Unlike the Panglossian Biden, Jimmy Carter did not tell Americans everything was going great, if only they could see it.

In the latest Trafalgar Poll, Joe Biden has dropped to a low of 35.1 percent approval, with only 15 percent strongly approving his performance and 59.7 percent strongly disapproving. A full 65.7 percent of unaffiliated voters disapprove, with only 29.4 favoring the Delaware Democrat’s performance. 

Despite Iran, Billy, and the “misery index” of unemployment and inflation, establishment media portrayed the 1980 presidential election as a tight race. As it turned out, it wasn’t even close. 

Ronald Reagan won in a landslide with 498 electoral votes to Carter’s 49, and prevailed in the popular vote by more than 8 million. The Georgia Democrat carried only six states and the District of Columbia. 

The nation managed to survive Jimmy Carter. But with every passing day, Joe Biden gives the people cause to wonder.

About Lloyd Billingsley

Lloyd Billingsley is the author of Hollywood Party and other books including Bill of Writes and Barack ‘em Up: A Literary Investigation. His journalism has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Spectator (London) and many other publications. Billingsley serves as a policy fellow with the Independent Institute.

Photo: Bettmann/Getty Images

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