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Jimmy Carter - when former presidents attack

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Former President Jimmy Carter spent the week backpedaling on a comment he made to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette saying that the Bush administration's foreign policy "has been the worst in history."

The first thing that comes to mind for me is why newspapers are only called "Democrat". I have never heard of The Arkansas "Republican" newspaper or the like; they are almost always Democrat--just like the media itself.

Secondly, the remarks by Carter should really hurt Bush since Jimmy Carter is a man who knows a lot about a failed Presidency. I am sure his goal is to seize the weakness in the Dubbya's poll numbers to take the monkey off his own back as the worst President of modern times, and start the media working toward giving Bush that moniker--like they needed prodding. Since history is written by college professors and the media, they always give a pass to Democrats. So I would imagine that they will try to label George W. Bush the worst of all time if they can--for which he has given them ammunition. No surprise there.

The real surprise is that Carter, in the days after making those comments, tried to say that he was "misinterpreted." Now I am not sure what part of "the worst in history" he thought we did not understand, but Carter must think we are as senile as he is. Peanut knew exactly what he was saying.

Carter seems like a nice enough and rather hapless guy. No one can do a photo op at a Habitat for Humanity project like him. But give me a break. Why, during war, when our troops are in harm's way, would an ex-president break with long-held traditions and openly criticize a sitting President (admittedly a sitting lame-duck President)?

Many observers believe that Carter's weakness when our hostages were held in Iran (hostages that were released 20 minutes into Reagan's inaugural speech) as well as other policies and statements he has made emboldened the Middle-Eastern radicals and perhaps still plagues us today.

I am not saying that this war is the right war, for the right reasons at the right time, but you just do not harm your country and comfort your enemies with comments like this. My buddies have gotten into bar fights and I help them, not because I believe what they said to start the fight is right, but simply because they are my buddy-- in a fight. It is what we do. At least the first few fights they get in. If they keep getting in stupid fights over issues that you do not want to support, you stop helping; over time, it is a self-correcting problem.

When Carter criticizes the Israeli's treatment of the Palestinians, the media, like Alzheimer's patients, listens to him. He did have the guts, or craziness, to criticize America's pro-Israel policies, which is something that usually costs politicians their elections, and academics their tenure. But then Carter, who is pushing 83, doesn't need a job any more, so I guess he doesn't care. For my part, if we have to choose between Muslim extremists who have no problem killing innocent people in the name of their religion, or the Israelis, who live in a Democracy and are our allies in the Middle East, then I think we made the right choice. At least Jews don't construct homemade bombs and strap them to themselves to blow up innocent people in a market. And it is not just because Jews are not handy with tools; it is because they are not nuts.

Carter was President when I attended high school and college. His bio came out and I had a keen interest in it---not enough to actually buy the book and read it mind you, but kind of interested. But in his defense, Carter has probably written more books than Bush has read.

Bush will have a hard time rebutting Carter as Dubbya spent most of the Carter presidency drunk. The Bush administration responded by just calling Carter "increasingly irrelevant." This, in Washington talk, is like bitch slapping someone.

In the gentlemen's men club of former presidents, Carter might get kicked out. He might already be on the outs, as the only time I see him he has on overalls and is working construction. He may have been put out when he let the Muriel boatlift Cuban crazies in or when interest rates went to 21% under his watchful eye. Carter probably made us weak with his wimpy gestures and passive leadership style. His latest comments are no more than an attempt to burnish his tarnished image by deflecting blame on Bush.

Ron Hart is a columnist and investor in Atlanta. He worked for Goldman Sachs and was appointed to The Tennessee Board of Regents by Lamar Alexander. His E-mail: RevRon10@aol.com.