President Jimmy Carter needs to be chastised by his fellow Democrats. And that needs to happen fast.
I say this with hesitancy. I view this thing we call “the American presidency” with a sense of awe and respect. In fact, I’m so fascinated with the individuals that this great nation has chosen to be President (whether or not I liked their party or politics), that I even co-authored a rather unusual book about the Presidents.
But after years of embarrassing and outrageous public behavior - - and because of his tirade in Arkansas over the weekend - - I have to say it now: our 39th President is harming our nation, and the world.
For a few years after leaving the White House, Carter in many ways was an exemplary former President. Whether building homes for the needy with the very worthy Habitat For Humanity organization, or building his “Carter Center” in Atlanta, he seemed to harness that unique public platform afforded to past U.S. Presidents, and use it to accomplish tremendous good for countless others.
But a sign of Carter’s contempt for Presidents other than himself appeared early-on during fellow Democrat Bill Clinton’s administration. Recall that, in 1994, President Clinton actually contemplated a U.S. invasion of the nation of Haiti (invading countries is now the ultimate no-no for “today‘s Democrats” - - but things were different thirteen years ago).
Literally hours before what we now know was an already scheduled invasion, President Clinton authorized a diplomatic visit to Haiti by former Senator San Nunn, former Joint Chiefs Chairman Colin Powell, and, yes, former President Jimmy Carter, the intent of which was to force the hand of Haiti’s ruling dictator to step down and thus avoid a military conflict.
Upon returning, Nunn and Powell addressed a press conference graciously, reassuring the nation that American diplomacy had worked, and that an invasion was unnecessary.
But Carter couldn’t be so gracious.
Displaying a “thank God I stepped in” attitude, Carter seemed to imply that the Haitian crisis was the making of President Clinton himself.
Clinton’s dealings with Haiti are not my focus here. My point is that Carter seemed to either be unaware, or uncaring, as to how his public behavior might affect the standing of the sitting President, and how he might damage our nation’s place in the world.
Now consider this abbreviated list of “ clueless Carter episodes” that have all occurred since 1994:
In the aftermath of the Gore-Bush contest of 2000, Carter called the election a “total debacle” - - apparently unaware that he might be undermining the nation’s credibility, and might even compromise his own opportunities to serve as an “observer” for future foreign elections (as he had done several times before in Nicaragua).
At the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, Carter allowed himself to be seated in a balcony right next to propagandizing film maker Michael Moore - - seemingly unaware that his presence adjacent to Moore could be perceived as an endorsement of the man’s offensive tactics (recall that weeks later when Bush was re-elected, Moore further insulted American voters by claiming that the country had become “Jesus Nation”).
In 2005, Carter told an audience at American University in Washington that in 2000 “the country failed abysmally in the presidential election process.” When asked about vote re-counts in the swing state of Ohio during the 2004 election, Carter admitted “I don’t know about that,” but then went on to plant seeds of doubt, claiming that the Ohio Secretary of State was “highly partisan.”
As if we haven’t had enough sour grapes from Carter, this weekend he took his level of outrageous behavior to an all-time high. Speaking to a reporter from Arkansas, Carter labeled the Bush administration the “worst in history,” and criticized everything from Bush’s foreign policy to his privatization approach with social welfare.
He also saw fit to insult the people of Great Britain (one of our nation’s greatest allies ever), describing Prime Minister Blair’s relationship with Bush as one that is “Abominable. Loyal, blind, apparently subservient…"
In lambasting the President this way, Carter bares a tragic resemblance to Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez who, during a visit to New York last year, claimed that Bush was “el Diablo” (not “a devil,” but “the Devil“). Fortunately, New York Congressman Charles Rangel saw fit to tell Chavez that it’s not okay to stand on American soil and criticize “my President.” Additionally, Representative Nancy Pelosi (then the House Minority Leader) had the sense to artfully refer to Chavez as a “thug.”
But now a former President has had his own “el Diablo meltdown moment.” And members of his party need to make it clear that this is “not okay,” either.
Reid, Pelosi, Obama, Clinton, Edwards…….where are you??