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Worst Week in Washington

Who had the worst week in Washington? Jimmy Carter.

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By Chris Cillizza
Sunday, September 26, 2010

Former presidents, like ex-girlfriends and ex-boyfriends, tend to benefit from the rose-tinted glasses of our collective memory.

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The further removed a president is from the Oval Office, the more the public remembers the good times they had together and forgets about the disagreements. And ex-presidents, freed from the burdens of handling the world's problems, tend to pursue feel-good humanitarian work once they leave Washington -- a career choice that virtually ensures higher approval ratings.

It's happened to Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan and nearly every other modern president. Heck, even George W. Bush is starting to be viewed more positively these days.

Jimmy Carter, the peanut farmer from Georgia, was perhaps the prototypical example of this phenomenon -- never popular during his single term in office but beloved as a diplomat and habitat-builder once out of it. Until last week, that is.

Carter started the week by accusing the late senator Ted Kennedy of purposefully tanking Carter's health-care bill in the late 1970s. "He did not want to see me have a major success in that realm of life," the former president said in an interview for CBS's "60 Minutes." (Kennedy lost to Carter in the 1980 Democratic presidential primary.)

Then, in an interview with NBC's Brian Williams, Carter, who was promoting the publication of his White House diary, said that his "role as a former president is probably superior to that of other presidents." He later recanted somewhat, issuing a clarifying statement that "for 27 years the Carter Center has provided me with superior opportunities to do good." Um, okay.

Jimmy Carter, for speaking ill of the dead and tooting your own horn loudly on national TV, you had the Worst Week in Washington. Congrats, or something.

Have a candidate for the Worst Week in Washington? E-mail chris.cillizza@wpost.com

with your nominees.

Can't remember who "won" worst week last week?

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