Jimmy Carter Goes (Pea)Nutty

Joel Mowbray

9/30/2004 12:00:00 AM - Joel Mowbray

Finally, Jimmy Carter?a man who has given the thumbs up to the ?elections? of some of the world?s worst tyrants?has found an election with which he can take issue.

Too bad the one place in the world he is willing to single out for scolding?preemptively?is Florida.  (And expect the DNC to be waving it in the event of a close race there.)

In an op-ed piece in yesterday?s Washington Post, the former peanut farmer with a fondness for despots warned that a travesty might be brewing in the sunshine state.  Capturing the essence of the polemic is its second paragraph:

The disturbing fact is that a repetition of the problems of 2000 now seems likely, even as many other nations are conducting elections that are internationally certified to be transparent, honest and fair.

What Carter doesn?t say directly?but spends 700 words implying?is that the balloting the Carter Center has overseen in 50 nations is universally superior to what happened (and he believes will happen again) in Florida.  Which might not be so bad if his outfit had been battle-tested in places like the United Kingdom or Australia.

But no, his expertise comes from giving credibility to terrorists and tyrants, like Yasser Arafat and Hugo Chavez.

Mr. Habitat for Humanity?s chief concern with Florida is the ?highly partisan? nature of the state?s election officials:

Four years ago, the top election official, Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, was also the co-chair of the Bush-Cheney state campaign committee. The same strong bias has become evident in her successor, Glenda Hood, who was a highly partisan elector for George W. Bush in 2000.

All that was missing was the usual blather about how Bush was ?selected, not elected? or that he was ?elected President by five men in robes.? 

None of this is to suggest that what happened in Florida was a shining moment for American balloting, but never in the history of the world has so much scrutiny been applied to any electoral process.  And guess what?  Notwithstanding doctored news articles in Fahrenheit 9/11, every single analysis by every major news organization found that no matter the rules for a recount, President Bush won, fair and square.

Was Florida perfect?  Of course not.  Not even Jimmy Carter could point to an election anywhere that ever was.  But if anybody could talk about dictators disguising themselves as democrats through fixed elections, it would be our 39th President.

Because of provisions in the infamous Oslo Accords, Palestinians in 1996 had their first?and to date, only?opportunity to elect their own leader.  Not that they had much of a choice, though.

Controlling all major television and radio, Yasser Arafat made sure that he dominated the airwaves.  Editors and reporters at newspapers not directly under Arafat?s thumb were threatened and intimidated with beatings and arrests.  And Arafat?s sole opponent was a 72-year-old woman, a social worker named Samiha Khalil who got, in the words of the New York Times, a ?surprisingly high? 9% of the vote.

Hardly the stuff of a real election, yet Carter described this mess as ?open and fair.?

Carter?s love of thugs has not waned over the years.  Last month, he certified the widely condemned referendum in which Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez supposedly won by a wide margin of 59-to-41. 

Exit polling conducted by the highly regarded Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates, however, found the exact opposite result: 59% opposed the communist ?President,? with only 41% in favor. 

As explained by the Wall Street Journal?s Mary O?Grady, Carter lacked the ability to prove the exit polls wrong (which could not have been 36 points off), because he only had access to a sampling of the easy-to-manipulate software tabulations printed out by voting booths.  Not that it stopped him, though.

It should come as no surprise that Carter sided with the despot over a respected (Democratic) polling firm.  Not just because of his disturbing track record, but because he and Chavez share a close, mutual friend: Fidel Castro.

In a stomach-turning first-person essay on his trip to Cuba in May 2002 that reads like a ?My summer vacation with a bloodthirsty tyrant,? Jimmy Carter writes, ?President Castro and I had a friendly chat about growing peanuts? on the way to the hotel, and then later ?[t]hat evening President Castro and I had a general discussion of issues and then enjoyed an ornate banquet.? 

With prose that might make even Castro?s PR flacks blush, Carter lavishes praise on Cuba?s ?superb systems of health care and universal education,? ?a remarkable medical school,? and the ?amazing musical and dance performances? of ?mentally retarded and physically handicapped children.?  Then, this doozy: that the ?fundamental right [of civil liberties enjoyed by Americans to change laws] is also guaranteed to Cubans.?

What Carter neglected to mention was that while he was staying at a hotel off-limits to ordinary Cubans, Castro was probably busy killing a political enemy or jailing innocent citizens.

At least Carter didn?t come away empty-handed?he was able to auction off a baseball he co-signed with Castro.

Where?s the ceremonial baseball Carter co-signed with George W. Bush, you ask?  The answer seems clear.  President Bush doesn?t meet the standards to be deemed legitimate by the former peanut farmer?which is probably all the reason any voter should need in order to re-elect him come November.