Jimmy Carter, Reconsidered
I also explain the relationship between vaccine mandates and 1.) Terry McAuliffe and 2.) Christmas.
In July, while I was guest web-editing the Washington Monthly, I spent a couple of hours on Zoom with my old friends Jonathan Alter and Kai Bird while they discussed the legacy of Jimmy Carter. They both have new Carter biographies out.
It was a surprising conversation, upending much of what I thought I knew about Carter and the politics of the 1970s. The October Surprise, that ridiculous theory that Bill Casey persuaded the Iranians not to release the hostages until after the 1980 election? Probably true. Ben Bradlee’s Washington Post, pinnacle of Washington journalism? Completely botched its Carter coverage because it had a big head from its recent Watergate triumph. Carter’s pie-in-the-sky human rights policy? Helped end the Cold War.
Alter and Bird agreed about all this. Their disagreements were just as interesting, especially in how they interpreted what Begin promised on settlements at Camp David.
The transcript of their conversation was so good that the Monthly’s editor, Paul Glastris, wouldn’t let me run it on the web; he wanted to save it for the print magazine. Now the print magazine is out and you can read the Carter dialog here. It’s long, but I promise a great read.
At the New Republic, I’ve been writing these past few days about President Joe Biden’s OSHA vaccine mandate. Some liberals have a problem with calling it a vaccine mandate because the OSHA rule says bosses don’t have to fire anti-vaxxers if they get tested weekly for Covid. Also, it applies only to businesses with 100 or more workers. So OK, it’s a soft mandate. And not all that soft, actually, because the workers who refuse to get vaccinated have to pay for the tests themselves. As well they should. The “mandate” aspect of the OSHA rule is precisely what I like about it. It is a forceful use of government to address a serious public health crisis from which we’re recovering too slowly.
Anyway. On Thursday I wrote that the Democrats’ loss of the governorship in Virginia, which everybody’s treating as a bellwether for the midterms, might have been avoided had Biden issued the OSHA rule in summer rather than waited till fall. He dithered and waited because he was afraid of the anti-vaxx backlash, when he should have been more afraid of the Covid-weary majority.
Today I wrote about the business lobby’s bizarre resistance to the OSHA rule, led mainly by the retailers, who are portraying it as a new battle front in the War on Christmas—even though the vaccine mandate doesn’t take effect until January 4. Except for Eastern Orthodox Christians, everybody will be done with the holidays by then, and even Eastern Orthodox Christians probably do most of their shopping before the big post-Christmas sales end on January 1.