You're a huge Carter fan. That much is clear. Unfortunately, as you well pointed out, 99.9% of the public electorate know diddly about hard core economics and just see the bottom line. Maybe the problem is communication. I know if I was President and had to make unpopular decisions and policies for the long term good of the country, I'd do my damnest to explain it (dumb it down, if you will) for the average voter. That goes for any leadership position, now doesn't it. I don't believe in doing things behind the scenes and expecting people to understand them without any attempt at explanations.
As much as you like Carter, you seem to dislike Reagan. Yet another example of perception and communication though, isn't it. Reagan is widely perceived as a better President than Carter, however false that may be. But why? Because Reagan was out there appealing like hell to the general public, and giving the people what they wanted, including the vision of a strong nation at a time when power was held at such a high level of importance. Those were the days of the "Evil Empire", as Reagan put it, much to the audience's glee. In retrospect it may or may not have made the most sense..... but Reagan was trying to feel the pulse of the nation.
In summary, it seems history is unfair to Presidents because not everybody is an economic genius to understand the finer points of the economy. But then again the public largely goes unaware because politicians are dreadfully inadequate in trying to explain the logic behind their decisions. So in a way you could say a lot of those public perceptions are well earned.