Monday, May 21, 2007

Jimmy Carter should run for president

Jimmy Carter, the man who presided over such momentous events as the Camp David Accords and my birth, has called the Bush Administration "the worst in history" regarding international relations:

"I think as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history," Carter told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in the newspaper's Saturday editions. "The overt reversal of America's basic values as expressed by previous administrations, including those of George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon and others, has been the most disturbing to me." [...]

"We now have endorsed the concept of pre-emptive war where we go to war with another nation militarily, even though our own security is not directly threatened, if we want to change the regime there or if we fear that some time in the future our security might be endangered," he said.

Carter also offered a harsh assessment for the White House's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, which helped religious charities receive $2.15 billion in federal grants in fiscal year 2005 alone.

"As a traditional Baptist, I've always believed in separation of church and state and honored that premise when I was president, and so have all other presidents, I might say, except this one," Carter said.

It's the same thing that I and innumerable bloggers have been saying for years, except that it's Jimmy Carter! The Habitat for Humanity guy! The guy with two iPods! Sounding exactly like all of our politicians should in times of trial! Refreshing, like a peanut butter sandwich at a picnic.

But that isn't even the best thing about this article. That honor goes to the reasoned reaction from the Republican machine:

"Apparently, Sunday mornings in Plains for former President Carter includes hurling reckless accusations at your fellow man," said Amber Wilkerson, Republican National Committee spokeswoman. She said it was hard to take Carter seriously because he also "challenged Ronald Reagan's strategy for the Cold War."

Wow! Bitter much? Remember when the GOP actually engaged the issues instead of resorting to the sort of attacks that would get any third-grader flunked in basic human interaction?

BBC quotes the White House as saying, "I think he is proving to be increasingly irrelevant with these kinds of comments." Which is, of course, exactly the sort of thing you waste time saying at a press conference. Hell, I'm surprised they didn't toss off these nuggets:

"What does Jimmy Carter know about Middle East diplomacy?"

"At least we aren't having any trouble with Iran!"

"Carter was a dumb southern hick who presided over high gas prices, a resurgence in redneck pop culture and a depressing 'malaise' of the American people. How does any of that translate into today's issues?"

"Those solar panels he put in the White House haven't done a thing since Reagan took them down!"

"He hasn't won the Nobel Peace Prize in five years!"

After all, that's how they operate.

This comment reminds me of one from a couple of years ago when Ted Turner accused Fox News of Hitler-esque popularity. What was the network's response then? "We're fair and balanced." Oh wait, that wasn't it. I believe it was something like, "Ted is understandably bitter having lost his ratings, his network, and now his mind. We wish him well." I remember my local radio station at the time talking about this story, and how I thought they were going to showcase Fox's reply as the idiotic bile that it was. Instead, they ran their trademark crowd-cheering sound and pumped their fists in support. After two decades of loyalty to that station, I stopped listening that day. I wonder if they're bitter about that.

The Bush administration has long been defined by its degrees of smugness and bitterness in everything that it says and does. And while that's unprofessional in any context, there was a time when the White House could justifiably pull this off in most peoples' eyes. But what's their excuse now?

And, even more importantly, why is Carter distancing himself from the remarks today? He certainly shouldn't apologize for saying what's on the majority of Americans' minds at the moment. I think we're long past the point where the Bush administration deserves any deference as far as policy conduct is concerned. After all, it's not as if they have any equivalent respect for opposing views. Carter shouldn't worry about violating the tradition of ex-presidents being forgiving of successors' policy differences. In this case, he did the right thing. He does the right thing a lot, you know, even if the GOP often makes it seem otherwise. Can we have more of this, please?

7 comments:

Leigh C. said...

From what i've read about it, I always had the impression that Eisenhower could barely hold it together for party unity in the 1960 election. Carter has been out of the Oval Office for nearly three decades. I think he's more than entitled to toe his own line at this point.

What are they gonna do? Eliminate his Secret Service detail?

Ian McGibboney said...

My high school history teacher always said of Eisenhower, "He would have been a Democrat, if they'd been the first to ask him."

I don't know what Carter was thinking when he suddenly retracted. I did see a picture of him on some site (wish I could find it again) where he appeared to be apologizing with Bush next to him glaring at him viciously like a vengeful parent. It could have been a collage for all I know, but if it was real, it's one of the saddest things I've ever seen. I'll look into it further.

Cajun Tiger said...

Record double digit inflation, unemployment, and interest rates; 444 day hostage crisis; unanswered Russian invasion of Afghanistan...yep...definitely all great platforms from which to criticize.

Ian McGibboney said...

Record deficit, stagnant job market, horrible housing market, thousands if Iraqi civilians and American troops dead in an unjustified war, al-Qaida powerful because of Reagan's reaction to said Soviet invasion of Afghanistan...yep...no wonder the White House reacts to such an "ineffective" man with such childish vitriol.

Cajun Tiger said...

yep...stagnant job market...if the nearly three years of job growth and lowering unemployment to record levels is stagnant then imagine if we had true growth...get you head out the sand please.

Housing was way over valued and everyone was waiting for the correction, but of course being everything is Bush's fault why not heap that on him as well.

"said Soviet invasion"...guess the holocaust didn't happen either?

however my main point was that of all people to criticize Bush, Carter is the last one that has a leg to stand on.

Ian McGibboney said...

My point is sort of an inverse correlation to yours: Of all the people who criticize Carter, the Bush White House is the least qualified.

And I certainly didn't question the Soviet invasion..."said" in this case referred simply to the fact that you had already mentioned it.

Job growth is more than rising numbers; the question is, are the jobs equivalent? Is the unemployment rate dropping because these people are finding jobs or is it because they simply ran out of benefits? And do increasing job numbers deserve praise if they're rebounding from an abysmal number?

I'm not saying that Bush is directly responsible for the housing bubble, but the burst is going on now. And you can't deny that it is having a real effect on people no matter who's in charge. And that the person in charge isn't doing a whole lot about it.

Cajun Tiger said...

Sorry for the misunderstanding of the "said" Soviet invasion...read it a little too fast.

What abysmal job numbers? You mean the ones from the Clinton administration? Because other than the blip after 9-11 here are the facts:

-Since August of 2003 almost 8 million jobs have been created

-economy has added jobs for 44 straight months

-Unemployment is at 4.5% which is lower then the 5.2% average during the Clinton's 8 year run

-Real after-tax income has risen approx. 10.4% or more then $3,000 dollars since Bush came into office

-economy has averaged approx. 3% of growth for the last five years

-The deficit is down dramatically

-Tax revenues are up by 9.3 or 954.4 billion dollars which means we've raised more tax revenues in the last two years then in any other two year period in our history.

-Wages for most people have risen faster then inflation

-Inflation remains low

-Home Ownership is higher then ever