William Saletan says that "When Carter was president, his early career as a Navy submarine officer was treated as an afterthought." The hell it was. Anyone who followed his campaign and presidency never heard the end of it. In fact, the very title of Carter's 1975 campaign bio, Why Not the Best? (which was to become a kind of unofficial campaign theme) was based on a pivotal story from his naval career. Carter was being interviewed for service under Admiral Hyman Rickover when he was asked if had always done his best; when he said he hadn't, Rickover asked why not. Carter successfully employed the message of always striving for the best as he waged a presidential campaign against, among other things, the creeping corruption and mediocrity of Washington. As president, he never let anyone forget his years of service in the military, with Admiral Rckover always serving in the background as a role model.
Otherwise, I'll agree Carter did manage to use the Big Stick approach with GBW in his convention speech, and he didn't let up after it was over; he went straight to Jim Lehrer and told him that Bush came in planning on invading Iraq from the get-go.
"That's a very serious charge," says Lehrer, very seriously, and Carter didn't flinch. He calmly said all the evidence and the statements by Wolfowitz, Perle, et al, only made his case. Good old Jimmy. He's been gone from office nearly a quarter of a century, and he hasn't yet gone gentle into that good night. That's the great thing about being an ex-President; you can say pretty much whatever the hell you want and you don't have to worry about appeasing anyone. I don't think there's beenm a President since whom Carter hasn't rubbed the wrong way with his sincere (some say self-righteous) dedication to doing the right thing (or what he says is the right thing.)
It was great to see the ovation he got. Did you know that after he was voted out of office, he wasn't even invited to the Georgia Democratic Convention? Can you imagine?