Paul Greenberg

The Carter Center in Atlanta, a kind of think tank for failed thought, keeps producing bad ideas. This visit to the Mideast is only the latest. You have to wonder if Jimmy Carter will have his picture taken with a terrorist leader who by now has been responsible for the murders of scores of innocent men, women and children - about 250 at last bloody count.

Do you think Mr. Carter will come away with Khaled Meshall's autographed picture to hang proudly in his office - the way American naifs used to accept decorations from Hermann Goering in the '30s, and explain how we could do business with the Nazis? It was all done in the name of peace, of course. We all know how well that worked out.

Jimmy Carter says his goal is peace, too. He's offered to be a conduit between Hamas and the State Department. (Let's just hope he doesn't pass on any bulky vests that give off a suspicious ticking sound.) The former president's naivete about the Middle East is exceeded only by his animus toward Israel. The combination would be silly if it weren't so dangerous.

After that cordial handshake in Damascus, Mr. Carter can scrub his hands till his dying day and not get the blood off. But he's not likely to let a little thing like that bother him. By now he's so deep into self-righteousness, he wouldn't even notice the crimson stain. His sanctimony was already tiresome when he was president; now that he isn't, it becomes more so. That's just the way he is, our former best former president.

Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.