It is a fundamental legal maxim — recognized in Federalist No. 10, for example — that no man can be a judge in his own case. This seems to me the precept that Jimmy Carter most flagrantly violated in his condemnation of George Bush as the worst president in history.
James Taranto correctly notes the inversion that Reuters inserts into its account of the White House response to Carter. Reuters absurdly asserts: “Sunday’s sharp response marks a departure from the deference that sitting presidents traditionally have shown their predecessors.” In truth, Carter’s conduct violates the discretion that ex-presidents have generally observed regarding their successors in office.
Among observers commenting on the Judgment of Jimmy are Christopher Hitchens, Gabriel Schoenfeld, Paul Beston, and Roger Kimball. Joshua Muravchik’s February 2007 Commentary essay — “Our worst ex-president” — is also on point, as is Steve Hayward’s more comprehensive The Real Jimmy Carter.
When it comes to pronouncing America’s worst president, the venerable legal maxim disqualifies Jimmy Carter from sitting in judgment.
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