When the Obama team blungeoned Mitt Romney with a statement he made in 2007 about Osama bin Laden — that it was "not worth moving heaven and earth and spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person” — Romney shot back that of course he too would have tried to take out bin Laden. In an exasperated tone, Romney added, “Even Jimmy Carter would have given that order.”

I’m not a particular fan of Carter’s, but still ... Romney’s gratuitous putdown has an ugly, bullying quality to it. Why say it? Especially given that in the spring of 1980 Carter did order a high-risk attempt to rescue the American hostages in Iran. The fact that helicopter equipment malfunction rendered it a failed mission — eight people died — doesn’t change the fact that Carter had the guts to give it a go.

And what has Mitt Romney, former businessman and civilian, ever done that comes close to that kind of decision that risks lives — and something perhaps even more dear to American presidents — a second term?

Jimmy Carter in his cardigans and his battle with a rabbit on a Georgia pond, in his fussy obsession with who used the White House tennis courts, was more grumpy grandfather than macho leader, but Carter, in fact, was a graduate of Annapolis and a naval officer.

And one more thing to say for the 39th president: Jimmy Carter had the class not to respond to Romney’s taunt.