Having written a book more than 10 years ago making the case that Jimmy Carter was America’s worst ex-president, I’ve been pondering the near metaphysical certainty that Barack Obama will easily eclipse Carter’s turpitude, and preparing the first take on the idea. But Karl Rove beat me to the punch in the Wall Street Journal this morning, with “A Preview of Obama’s Post-Presidency.” (Try this link to work around the paywall if you’re not a subscriber.)
In two interviews over the holidays, President Obama signaled how he’s likely to conduct himself once out of office: whiny, self-justifying and bursting with excuses. . .
Mr. Obama will be the first ex-president since Woodrow Wilson to remain in Washington. Given the tone of his interviews, he could well become a carping, persistent presence in our nation’s capital.
But just how will we calibrate and score Obama’s awfulness relative to Jimmy Carter? After all, Carter has a huge head start.
I propose the following scoresheet/drinking game for Obama’s post-presidency. You can either take one shot for every five points, or just keep a running total if you’d prefer to save your liver instead. If we peg Carter as the baseline of 100 score for the Power Line Post-Presidential Awfulness (hereafter the PPPA Scale), grant the following points to Obama as follows:
- Calls for formal recognition of a Palestinian state: 20 points. (Even Carter has stopped short of this.)
- Signs a book deal for more than $10 million: 5 points.
- Snarls Washington traffic more than once a month with his about-town outings for which he demands a motorcade: 5 points.
- Whines about Fox News: 5 points.
- Publicly attacks Trump within 30 days: 10 points.
- Expresses regret that he was unsuccessful in stopping the Syrian civil war: 10 points.
- Creates for himself the persona as a “citizen of the world,” because he is too good for the United States: 5 points.
- Accepts donations from Iran for the Obama Foundation: 10 points.
- Travels to North Korea: 10 points.
- Comes back from North Korea: 5 points.
- Travels to Iran: 15 points.
There is a time value to this scale. After all, it took Jimmy Carter more than a decade to perfect his perfidy. These scores should have double weight for each one accomplished in Obama’s first year out of office. Hence, I predict that Obama will exceed the Jimmy Carter 100 baseline on the PPPA Scale by September.
(Additional scoring items welcome in the comments section.)
PAUL adds: I would subtract 10 points if Obama expresses regret for being unsuccessful in stopping the Syrian civil war. However, I would add 20 points if he expresses regret but says his only option other than inaction was to have the U.S. fight a major land war.
This alone might get the former president to 100 points within two or three years.
STEVE rejoins: I thought about making the sign for those points negative for exactly this reason, but in the end decided to keep it as is because it will be an expression of Obama’s moral vanity. And it also reminds me of how Bill Clinton said he regretted not doing anything about Rwanda’s genocidal civil war in the 1990s. In both cases, such admissions are mostly virtue signaling.
I do disagree that the only serious option in Syria was a major land war. Obama should have enforced his “red line” by bombing the hell out of Assad’s personal palaces at the very least. And we could have sent swarms of drones into the area to make life miserable for Syrian forces, along with bombing their airfields.
PAUL agrees: Absolutely. Obama’s “major land war” vs. doing nothing dichotomy is a classic false choice, to use a phrase that itself could have been the basis for an Obama drinking game a few years ago.