Sunday, May 20, 2007

What is he thinking?

I am no political pundit so I expect some kind of reaction from you political junkie-type readers, however Jimmy Carter's recent criticism of President Bush makes me sick. Never mind what you think about George Bush and his job performance, it isn't right for a former president to speak in the way Carter has spoken about Bush. I understand the First amendment. If congressmen and citizens want to diss the President, that's their right, but former presidents ought to conduct themselves as statesmen, not as desperate commentators CNN or Al Jezerra might want to hire. If Jimmy Carter had been a solid, effective president, it still would not be right to castigate the sitting President. The fact is, however, the very statement Carter made about Bush (that Bush is the worst in history regarding foreign relations) is more demonstrably true of him. The old "if you live in a glass house, you shouldn't throw rocks" adage definitely applies here.

I am just old enough to remember American hostages in Iran for 444 days while our President stumbled and bumbled around. I was young, but I remember being embarrassed by how wimpy Jimmy Carter was. I honestly do not remember anyone speaking positively about Carter's presidency. I lived in a relative hotbed of the Democratic party and I know for a fact that many died in the wool Dems voted for Reagan because of Carter's ineptitude. Political leanings aside, he was a weak leader and poor President. Specific to his recent criticism of Bush, the late ultra liberal Senator from my former state, Daniel Moynihan, said it best concerning Carter and his view of the world- "Unable to distinguish between our friends and our enemies, he has adopted our enemies' view of the world." Most shockingly, I have recently read in 1990 and 1991, as the first George Bush was assembling the Gulf War coalition, Carter wrote secretly to Margaret Thatcher, François Mitterand, Mikhail Gorbachev, and several others, asking the U.N. Security Council not to back Bush! In my view, his actions were treasonous. Further, he had a genuine admiration for Yassar Arafat and a seeming disdain for Israel. Avoiding the whole Israel-Palestinian conflict debate, I will only say that supporting and even affirming a terrorist like Arafat is just mind boggling. No one in America would have been safe with Carter as President for long. His election was an unfortunate pendulum swing from the Nixon era. The record on Jimmy Carter is clear, especially as it relates to his "leading" in the area of foreign relations. Five years ago, after Carter successfully campaigned for a Nobel Peace Prize (what joke that was...North Korea was swindling everyone with a smiley Carter standing by, once again) Jay Nordlinger wrote a piece on Jimmy Carter worth reading, Carter has only shown his true colors more vividly since then.

What was he thinking? Why is he embarrassing the office of President like this? Why is he embarrassing America by saying the things he is saying? I can recall no former president's saying the kinds of things he does about our sitting president. Clinton comes close at times, but it is usually in connection to an attack on his administration, but who's really surprised by that?George Bush Sr. has taken the proper role of statesmen after leaving office. In my view, George W. Bush maintains an incredible level of composure in the face of constant, fierce, criticism. I am thankful he does his best to honor the office by not getting in a tit for tat type of dialogue with his detractors. But Carter? What is he thinking?


Frontier Forest said...

Terribly disturbing yet radically true! I have a cousin who has shared some real horror stories about the ineptness of ole’ peanut Carter! My retired full-bird Marine cousin served 2 tours in Vietnam and was personal friends of Oliver North. After years of active duty service oversees, he served, “at the honor of 3 presidents” in a top security position at the Pentagon. Only listening to his hand-picked puppets, who were just as inept as he was, my cousin can personally attest to Jimmy Carter’s total lack of foreign policy and logistical political understanding. What ever top brass military attachés would advise, he would do just the opposite. As a president, what disgrace! But besides his honorable humanitarian work, and wanting to find something good to say, to the lost and to the media, he did make the term “born again” a popular catch phrase?

Anonymous said...

If there is a contest between two presidents vying for the title of "worst in history regarding foreign relations" then both Bush Jr. and Carter are well qualified. But, your point is well-taken, it doesn't look statesmanly or dignified for a former president to criticize a sitting president and it has become tradition in our nation for them not to do so. Carter, as all former presidents, should show deference to this tradition. Note that the fact that there is NO leading presidential candidate from either major party who represents the sizeable antiwar vote may be inspiring Carter to take up this cause. But, then again, he isn't running for office so it doesn't really make sense. Just a couple of questions about your entry if I may: first, why were Carter's actions treasonous especially considering that the Congress never declared war on Iraq (which is required by the Constitution - something we haven't observed since WWII)? Second, I don't see how our one-sided support for Israel has kept us "safe" as a nation. Sure, it was wrong to support only side, but many crimes have been commited by Israel on the Palestinian people. And, never mind the more important question of whether we should be involved at all. Finally, since when does criticism of a president equate with criticism of "America?" I really wish people would not confuse this. The president is merely one person among millions and usually does not represent more than 1 or 2 per cent (if even that) of the population in terms of education, wealth, and etc. How does he suddenly become "America?" I see this same kind of thinking when people equate criticism of a policy or of the government with being "anti-American."

AJF said...

Please post identity in the future, thanks.

1. I agree that it's lame to call some one "treasonous" for simply speaking out against an action they think is wrong. That's not why I think Carter's actions in 1990 are treasonous. Treason is technically the crime of disloyalty to one's nation. A person who betrays the nation of their citizenship and/or reneges on an oath of loyalty and in some way willfully cooperates with an enemy. I think a former President (a person who does hold considerable symbolic power) going behind the sitting president's back to convince allies to vote against him is treasonous. In the case of the Gulf War, it was certainly cooperating with the enemies desires (heck, they were in the middle of plundering Kuwait). I sense you disagreed with the Gulf War, fair enough, Carter still shouldn't have done what he did. What I didn't mention, that staggers me, is Bush Sr. didn't even know Carter was meddling until Mitterand and Gorbachev called him to ask what was up with Carter?

2. Not sure what to say about congress not voting to declare war on Iraq in 1990. Honestly, I didn't know that. I do remember vividly how in favor the country was of the action. I do agree though, a vote should have been taken. That seems like a different issue all together, certainly not what I was writing about.

3. I wasn't supporting Israel, per se', rather I was criticizing Carter's regular practice of trying to have a smiley, chummy talk with terrorists (like Arafat). He loved Arafat. Arafat was a terrorist, straight up. His friendliness with Arafat demonstrates Carter's style of "foreign relations" and I submit such a practice would have weakened America's security seriously.

One Salient Oversight said...

Carter's tenure as President was certainly problematic. He did, however, manage to forge a peace accord between Egypt and Israel that has lasted to this very day. Certainly countless Egyptian and Israeli lives and billions of dollars have been saved because of this.

His time as president was also hindered by his own party. The Democrats in Congress did not support Carter's presidential aspirations and were put out by the amount of popular support he was able to get. The Dem leadership preferred George Wallace or Henry Jackson. While in office the Dems got back at him by reversing some of his vetoes. Ted Kennedy didn't like Carter at all and almost ran against him on the Democrat ticket in 1980.

Carter did do a number of good things for the economy that were only felt during Reagan's term. Carter helped to reform a number of bloated industries, most notably the airlines. He also appointed Paul Volcker as Fed Chairman, who was then able to use the power of the Federal Reserve to kill off inflation - a process that caused a recession and more problems for Carter.

Operation Eagle Claw was a complete farce from the very beginning. These days America would not think twice on a military response to this form of hostage problem, but I think Carter tried as best he can for a diplomatic solution. Besides, it wasn't his fault that some helicopters crashed and forced the abandonment of the rescue.

The problem with Carter was that his good points have been ignored while his mistakes have been augmented somewhat by successive commentators. In my book, Carter was a good, if limited, president whose downfall was the result of too many external factors beyond his control.

AJF said...

Interesting take. Never thought of the airlines thing. Not sure it took Carter to forge the friendship between Egypt and Israel, it was definitely in the best interest of both and probably would have headed that direction, but still, good observation.