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Mordred

The Carter Presidency And The Game Of Thrones

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Our favorite author has expressed on more than one interview that he believes Jimmy Carter was truly a good man.  However, he has also said of Carter that he was not a good president.  What does the author consider a failure of the Carter presidency?   Was it the failed hostage rescue mission?  

Pls. Admins, do not delete this post.  It has real politics but I believe the answer will shed some light on our author's ideas. 

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I would suppose George would agree with the assesments quoted in Wikipedia regarding Carter and his presidency. No one ever questioned that he was a good and decent and well-intentioned man, but he was not up to the task of the challenges set out before him.

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I might be the only American here who is old enough to remember the Carter years.  I was a teenager when he got elected.  I come from a very conservative background.  Dad served in the military and I followed.  I myself served in the gulf for a time.  My folks voted for Carter because of Nixon.   They voted for Reagan four years later.  

I am no historian but talk of the time lead me now to believe he would have gotten re-elected if the mission to rescue the hostage had been a success.  My folks faulted him because he didn't support Shah Pahlavi.  Khomeini came to power and Iran backslid from what social progress they had from the Shah.  

I don't know how that plays into the plot of AGOT.  George has said he takes a lot of effort to keep real politics out of his fantasy novel but some of it creep in because it is a natural when the story deal with kingship.  I would equate the High Sparrow with Khomeini.  Aerys with Shah Pahlavi.  Daenerys and Jon attempting to make fundamental changes to their respective society as somewhat like Carter.  The lords and ladies would be the republicans.  

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Jimmy Carter is indeed a very good man, but he was also extremely detail-oriented and moralistic. He was unable to make a dent in the stagflation phenomenon that had been sweeping the country since Nixon was in office, and he was unable to negotiate a release for the victims of the Iranian Hostage Crisis. As much as the country loathed Nixon, he had a knack for foreign relations, and probably would have proved more effective than Carter in this instance.

Carter was also the politician who first introduced the use of extreme public displays of religious piety in presidential candidates. A lot of people don't realize that this was not the norm in the US prior to then; our Founders were speculative deists who, in Jefferson's case at least, actually edited their Bibles by cutting out the sections that didn't agree with, and their successors didn't have any reason to incorporate God into their campaigns, seeing as most Americans were church-going Protestants themselves--there was simply nothing to prove. Gerald Ford, himself a devout Dutch Calvinist, privately found Carter's public declarations of belief to be rather creepy and manipulative, and couldn't wrap his head around why Carter was so set on incorporating religion into his campaign. (The two eventually became close friends, but that was not until years after they faced off in the 1976 election). Carter was very benevolent and honest in his beliefs, but the argument could certainly be made that he's responsible for obligations politicians have faced since then to prove their piety in order to win elections.

Love Reagan or hate him (and there are plenty of facts that could back up either side), he certainly accomplished a lot, and that led to the vast overshadowing of Carter's legacy. Even the decision to grant amnesty to draft dodgers who fled to Canada, which Carter is usually credited with, was actually implemented by Ford, and faced a good deal of resistance at the time. So in retrospect, Carter's presidency does seem very empty and ineffective. On the other hand, he has had a prolific post-office career, and has been an active volunteer and philanthropist for his entire adult life. This has earned Carter admiration from both ends of the political spectrum, even if few people have much to say about his time in office. 

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I was not in the US at the time, but wasn’t it found later that Iranians were persuaded to sabotage Carters overt hostage negotiations by Americans hostile to Carter and that behind the scenes he was assisting the Canadian embassy to free those hostages, but it wouldn’t have worked if he had spilled the beans and put many lives at risk.

Americans are great at smearing! Ford, who was an athlete was considered a joke because he tripped. Trump gets away with toilet paper on his shoe,his wife slapping his hand, fraud, and a dizzying number of lies.

He has been quite daring at espousing causes like Habitat for Humanity and backing stronger roles for women in religious activities. No wonder the right wing doesn’t like him. He was also very much avante guard about energy moderation.

Edited by HoodedCrow
Word choice

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George is aware of the fact that bad people (like Stannis or Tywin) can be pretty good rulers, whereas good people (like King Aenys or Tytos Lannister) can be bad rulers.

Assuming Carter is a good man (he is still alive, after all) some people seem to think that didn't help him to be a good president.

I'm not sure I agree with George there. In the setting he created rulers have to be ruthless, insidious, and cruel, at times, to survive, but in our day and age that is not necessary for politics and ruling - at least not to the degree.

Men whose characters are not suited to rule never rise to the top in a career politician environment - but they do inherit thrones and lordships in a world where power is inherited within a dynasty or family.

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2 hours ago, Here's Looking At You, Kid said:

I might be the only American here who is old enough to remember the Carter years.  I was a teenager when he got elected.  I come from a very conservative background.  Dad served in the military and I followed.  I myself served in the gulf for a time.  My folks voted for Carter because of Nixon.   They voted for Reagan four years later.  

I am no historian but talk of the time lead me now to believe he would have gotten re-elected if the mission to rescue the hostage had been a success.  My folks faulted him because he didn't support Shah Pahlavi.  Khomeini came to power and Iran backslid from what social progress they had from the Shah.  

I don't know how that plays into the plot of AGOT.  George has said he takes a lot of effort to keep real politics out of his fantasy novel but some of it creep in because it is a natural when the story deal with kingship.  I would equate the High Sparrow with Khomeini.  Aerys with Shah Pahlavi.  Daenerys and Jon attempting to make fundamental changes to their respective society as somewhat like Carter.  The lords and ladies would be the republicans.  

Hey there old timer. I remember the Carter years very well too. How about Watergate? I remember there were no good TV shows on for a good two weeks because of the all-day hearing coverage. And both mom and dad were pissed because they were Nixon supporters going back to 1960.

To the OP: the Carter admin was a time of general uneasiness about American democracy and our ability to compete in an increasingly statist-leaning world economy. The word of the day was malaise. Carter seemed ill-equipped to change course, although he did accomplish several notable feats, including the creation of the Departments of Energy and Education, airline deregulation and a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. But these were overshadowed by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the Iran hostage crisis, both of which accentuated the impression that Carter was not up to the challenge of being president.

So all in all, I agree with George that Carter was a good guy but a bad president.

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What if truthfulness and honor were valued qualities in leadership? I guess Martin shows Ned’s honor leads him to make political mistakes, Robb’s honor to cost a war, and Jon gets killed because he wants to save his sister and a whole culture of people, but what would you think of him if he didn’t try?

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Just now, HoodedCrow said:

What if truthfulness and honor were valued qualities in leadership? I guess Martin shows Ned’s honor leads him to make political mistakes, Robb’s honor to cost a war, and Jon gets killed because he wants to save his sister and a whole culture of people, but what would you think of him if he didn’t try?

  1. Ned's honor costed him his head.  He let himself get maneuvered by Cersei and LF.  That was being naive.  
  2. Robb's lack of honor is what costed him his life.  He married the girl that he loved instead of the one he was supposed to marry.  He broke his oath and that is not honorable.  Robb died because he had no honor.  
  3. Jon got killed because he endangered the lives of the men of the Nightwatch for his sister.  No leader worth his salt would trade the lives of the many to get his sister away from a bad marriage.  It doesn't matter how bad the marriage or how unhappy she is with the marriage.  The lives of the defenders of the wall are more important.  Jon died because he is a lot like Robb, an oath breaker.  
7 hours ago, Mordred said:

Our favorite author has expressed on more than one interview that he believes Jimmy Carter was truly a good man.  However, he has also said of Carter that he was not a good president.  What does the author consider a failure of the Carter presidency?   Was it the failed hostage rescue mission?  

Pls. Admins, do not delete this post.  It has real politics but I believe the answer will shed some light on our author's ideas. 

 

3 hours ago, Here's Looking At You, Kid said:

I might be the only American here who is old enough to remember the Carter years.  I was a teenager when he got elected.  I come from a very conservative background.  Dad served in the military and I followed.  I myself served in the gulf for a time.  My folks voted for Carter because of Nixon.   They voted for Reagan four years later.  

I am no historian but talk of the time lead me now to believe he would have gotten re-elected if the mission to rescue the hostage had been a success.  My folks faulted him because he didn't support Shah Pahlavi.  Khomeini came to power and Iran backslid from what social progress they had from the Shah.  

I don't know how that plays into the plot of AGOT.  George has said he takes a lot of effort to keep real politics out of his fantasy novel but some of it creep in because it is a natural when the story deal with kingship.  I would equate the High Sparrow with Khomeini.  Aerys with Shah Pahlavi.  Daenerys and Jon attempting to make fundamental changes to their respective society as somewhat like Carter.  The lords and ladies would be the republicans.  

The shah was a bad man who lived to excess but he was a supporter of the US.  Carter should have used military force to keep him in power.  

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15 minutes ago, HoodedCrow said:

What if truthfulness and honor were valued qualities in leadership? I guess Martin shows Ned’s honor leads him to make political mistakes, Robb’s honor to cost a war, and Jon gets killed because he wants to save his sister and a whole culture of people, but what would you think of him if he didn’t try?

Depends what they had done instead. If Ned had rejected Robert's offer or Robb had ignored his father's predicament and they had instead focused on preparing the North and the Wall for the impending attack of the Others I think everybody would agree that they did the right thing.

Most people also don't fault Jon for trying to help the wildlings (although one can question whether he has the resources to do so and whether helping that as much as he does may put the Watch and the North in a worse position when winter and the Others finally come), it is the Arya thing that is the real selfish issue there.

I'd actually congratulate Jon if he had stuck to 'his war' (as he so famously declares in his second last chapter) because that would have meant he had finally seen and understood the big picture everybody should see.

Ned doesn't make mistakes because of 'honor', though. He makes mistakes because he ignores honor and allows himself to be ruled by basic human emotions like love, friendship, and pity. It is his love for his daughters that causes him to forget his honor and lie in front of gods and men about Cersei's children, it is his friendship to Robert that causes him to not tell him the truth about his children, and it is his pity and compassion for both Cersei and her children that causes him to tell her what he has learned so that she can flee Robert's wrath.

Ned acts completely against his own interests or the interests of his house in all of that. He does exactly the opposite of what any sane politician would do in his situation.

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True, I used the word honor as a short hand, but I don’t think Ned’s warning of Cersei for her children’s sake lacked honor. Agreed not a great political move, fatal, and naive. Robb was held to be honorable in one way by making a tragic choice of wife, but dishonorable in his deal with Frey., and he was rash in attacking the South, although other choices might have made him successful.

it will be amusing if Roslyn and her Frey child with Edmure ended up being the last surviving Frey’s.

i think it a fairly low place to go to not love or even have compassion, but then compromises must always be made.

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Carter was elected in the post-Watergate era as an outsider who was free of the corrupt and entrenched ways of Washington. His honesty and simple country ways - he campaigned as a simple peanut farmer from the small town of Plains, Georgia -  helped in his election after the scandal plagued years of the Nixon years. But was he an effective president? That depends on how one measures him. He was a one term president and that by itself marks him as a sort of political failure to some. If you agreed with him on Camp David or SALT 2 he was an effective leader. He pushed ideas like energy independence long before others and looked to clean energy as part of the solution. Symbolically, he installed solar panels on the White House, which Ronald Reagan had removed. 

Carter was not the disaster that his republican opponents  liked to paint him, but he also was unable, in his one term, to effectively meet the many challenges he chose to take on instead of ignore as he predecessors did. As someone who lived through his presidency and actively campaigned against what I saw as conservative accommodations to the Republican's rhetoric, I'm probably one of the few here who view the Reagan/Bush years to follow him as the true disaster.

But to George's use of Carter as an ineffective leader, I suspect Martin's politics are closer to mine and his criticisms come from the left of the Democratic Party. But more importantly, the stamp of losing to Reagan colored the view of historians and political commentators. As such, he is the perfect real world leader to use as an analog to Ned Stark. The shorthand view being the both were men of honor, but without the political skills they needed to accomplish their honorable goals. This is certainly a view of both Carter and Lord Stark that lacks a nuanced view of them both. I suspect George uses Carter to provoke the reader to look at hard questions. Particularly the idea that less honorable and truthful men were more effective political leaders.

I may have the minority view when it comes to Ned Stark. I don't accept that losing is the mark of failure. Lack of trying is the mark of failure for a leader. Leading by an example of honor isn't a sign of weakness in a leader. Even if it limits the choices one can make in response to dishonest and even evil opponents. 

That does not mean political skills are unimportant in moral causes, as evidenced by LBJ and the fight for landmark civil rights and voting rights legislation. It just means that one does not have to be the sadistic unprincipled prick Tywin Lannister was to effectively govern. George knows this, but he wants the reader to ponder the value of political skills along with those of honorable goals.

Edited by SFDanny

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3 hours ago, Lord Lannister said:

Can't even escape the politics here now....

LOL

6 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Men whose characters are not suited to rule never rise to the top in a career politician environment

The current POTUS is strong evidence to the contrary ;)

2 hours ago, SFDanny said:

But to George's use of Carter as an ineffective leader, I suspect Martin's politics are closer to mine and his criticisms come from the left of the Democratic Party. But more importantly, the stamp of losing to Reagan colored the view of historians and political commentators. As such, he is the perfect real world leader to use as an analog to Ned Stark. The shorthand view being the both were men of honor, but without the political skills they needed to accomplish their honorable goals.

Both these points are very important to keep in mind.  The leftist criticism of Carter's foreign policy would start with his admittance of Pahlavi into the US for health treatment - something that was urged by Kissinger and other conservative leaders - which provided the justification that triggered the hostage crisis in the first place.  Generally, in terms of foreign policy, one would expect Martin's views to be similar to that of SoS Cy Vance rather than his hawkish rival NSA Zbigniew Brzezinski.  Vance opposed Brzezinski initiating support of the mujahideen following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and resigned in protest following the failed Operation Eagle Claw (his objection was to attempting a military solution to the crisis, not its failure).  However, as mentioned, a leftist view of Carter would applaud most of his foreign policy - e.g. the Camp David Accords, his progress on SALT II, the continuing opening up of China, and his overall emphasis on human rights.

The criticism from the left (and most scholars) primarily involves Carter's failures as a chief executive and his relations with Congress.  He remains the only president not to appoint a chief of staff since the position was established (at least until two and a half years into his presidency), and he gutted the EOP staff upon taking office.  Despite enjoying unified government with massive majorities in both chambers, he was unable to enact most of his lofty legislative agenda because rather than allowing his staff to do the grunt work of logrolling, he believed he could persuade key legislators through personal engagement. 

In short, he was a political outsider whose hands on and micromanaging approach not only was not conducive to DC politics, but also demonstrated a clear misunderstanding of how to navigate the capital.  And while perhaps noble, he possessed a certain self-righteous arrogance by refusing to play the game.  Sound familiar?  To be clear, I think it strains credulity to imagine Martin had the Carter administration in mind - in any way - while writing the downfall of Ned Stark, but the parallels are there.

3 hours ago, SFDanny said:

I'm probably one of the few here who view the Reagan/Bush years to follow him as the true disaster.

But you're not alone!

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3 hours ago, DMC said:

LOL

The current POTUS is strong evidence to the contrary ;)

Oh, I meant nice guys and people caring more about private hobbies and the like - like many hereditary rulers do. Trump definitely wants power. And the American system favors famous plutocrats, anyway.

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15 hours ago, HoodedCrow said:

True, I used the word honor as a short hand, but I don’t think Ned’s warning of Cersei for her children’s sake lacked honor. Agreed not a great political move, fatal, and naive. Robb was held to be honorable in one way by making a tragic choice of wife, but dishonorable in his deal with Frey., and he was rash in attacking the South, although other choices might have made him successful.

it will be amusing if Roslyn and her Frey child with Edmure ended up being the last surviving Frey’s.

i think it a fairly low place to go to not love or even have compassion, but then compromises must always be made.

You're partly correct.  The extent to which you will lean one way or the other should be determined by your role.  A leader will have different compromises compared to the average person who has very little responsibility outside of the family.  A leader like Robb should put the welfare of his followers ahead of his romantic interests.  Maintaining the Frey alliance increases their chances of surviving the war.  Breaking the alliance lowers their chances of survival.  I cannot believe the Greatjon and the Blackfish didn't clap Robb on the back of his head for doing something this dumb.

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13 hours ago, SFDanny said:

Carter was elected in the post-Watergate era as an outsider who was free of the corrupt and entrenched ways of Washington. His honesty and simple country ways - he campaigned as a simple peanut farmer from the small town of Plains, Georgia -  helped in his election after the scandal plagued years of the Nixon years. But was he an effective president? That depends on how one measures him. He was a one term president and that by itself marks him as a sort of political failure to some. If you agreed with him on Camp David or SALT 2 he was an effective leader. He pushed ideas like energy independence long before others and looked to clean energy as part of the solution. Symbolically, he installed solar panels on the White House, which Ronald Reagan had removed. 

Carter was not the disaster that his republican opponents  liked to paint him, but he also was unable, in his one term, to effectively meet the many challenges he chose to take on instead of ignore as he predecessors did. As someone who lived through his presidency and actively campaigned against what I saw as conservative accommodations to the Republican's rhetoric, I'm probably one of the few here who view the Reagan/Bush years to follow him as the true disaster.

But to George's use of Carter as an ineffective leader, I suspect Martin's politics are closer to mine and his criticisms come from the left of the Democratic Party. But more importantly, the stamp of losing to Reagan colored the view of historians and political commentators. As such, he is the perfect real world leader to use as an analog to Ned Stark. The shorthand view being the both were men of honor, but without the political skills they needed to accomplish their honorable goals. This is certainly a view of both Carter and Lord Stark that lacks a nuanced view of them both. I suspect George uses Carter to provoke the reader to look at hard questions. Particularly the idea that less honorable and truthful men were more effective political leaders.

I may have the minority view when it comes to Ned Stark. I don't accept that losing is the mark of failure. Lack of trying is the mark of failure for a leader. Leading by an example of honor isn't a sign of weakness in a leader. Even if it limits the choices one can make in response to dishonest and even evil opponents. 

That does not mean political skills are unimportant in moral causes, as evidenced by LBJ and the fight for landmark civil rights and voting rights legislation. It just means that one does not have to be the sadistic unprincipled prick Tywin Lannister was to effectively govern. George knows this, but he wants the reader to ponder the value of political skills along with those of honorable goals.

All good comments.  In my opinion, George Martin is faulting Carter for his indecisiveness.  Paralysis due to over analysis.  Carter was an intellectual whose patience may not be an asset for a man in his position.  The public liked the cowboy types.  The shoot 'em up kind of leader who can make the nation feel good about itself and its place in the world.  Carter just did not have the swagger that Reagan did.  

Reagan brought about the fall of communism but he nearly destroyed our economy too.  Reaganomics and trickle down economics that favored the rich.  His increased defense spending was not supported by increased taxation.  The national debt rose as a consequence.  But the price was worth it to those who felt communism was the greatest evil in the world.

The Carter administration was not a failure.  It just did not accomplish all it set out to do.  But what administration did?  Martin is a democrat.  Is he saying Carter didn't go far enough?  Clinton is a moderate and so was Obama.  I wonder what Martin thought of these presidents?

Martin gave an interview in which he said one of the roles of a leader is the creation of a system where the people can prosper.  In that same interview, he also said being a good person doesn't have anything to do with leadership at all.  So if that is the case then it probably doesn't even matter how the king is getting the job done as long he is getting the job done.  A quiet land.  A quiet people.  With that in mind, Aerys was getting the job done because Westeros was prosperous under his rule.  True, his appointees were responsible for the success but he was smart enough to pick capable advisers.   Despite his brutality, men like Roose Bolton can be good leaders.  George is willing to overlook injustice as long as peace is kept and prosperity is taking place.  

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4 hours ago, Enuma Elish said:

 

Martin gave an interview in which he said one of the roles of a leader is the creation of a system where the people can prosper.  In that same interview, he also said being a good person doesn't have anything to do with leadership at all.  So if that is the case then it probably doesn't even matter how the king is getting the job done as long he is getting the job done.  A quiet land.  A quiet people.  With that in mind, Aerys was getting the job done because Westeros was prosperous under his rule.  True, his appointees were responsible for the success but he was smart enough to pick capable advisers.   Despite his brutality, men like Roose Bolton can be good leaders.  George is willing to overlook injustice as long as peace is kept and prosperity is taking place.  

So we should be like Rose Bolton, who flays people and rapes women on their wedding nights?

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19 minutes ago, Angel Eyes said:

So we should be like Rose Bolton, who flays people and rapes women on their wedding nights?

Absolutely NOT George's message.

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