Conservative Political Commentary

...usually with an attempt at historical and economic context

Friday, September 18, 2009

Jimmy Carter Strikes Again


Former President Jimmy Carter, widely recognized for his community-spirit efforts with Habitat for Humanity, his international efforts to help ensure fair elections, and even a Sunday School class that draws many visitors, has received some unfavorable attention last year and this year.

President Carter engineered the Israel-Egypt peace agreement, and received a Nobel Peace Prize, but seemed to accomplish more good things after his term as president was over. As president, he ran into considerable difficulty with “malaise,” and, of course, the Iran hostage crisis, as well as a tough economy. He was unfortunately one our most inept presidents, but most would agree that he was seen as a man of good influence in the world after his presidency ended, in the spirit of his Mideast peace accomplishment.

But despite that, he has made himself a target of justifiable criticism on two fronts in 2008 and 2009. First, he drew the ire of Israel by meeting with Hamas terrorist leaders in April (also against the wishes of the Bush Administration). He also wrote a book very critical of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.

The Anti-Defamation League released the following:
“New York, NY, April 11, 2008 … Abraham H. Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), issued the following statement regarding Jimmy Carter's announcement that he will meet with the head of the terrorist group Hamas.

“Jimmy Carter does it again. His decision to meet with the head of the terrorist group Hamas is one more example of the destructive role the former President is playing with regard to issues affecting Israel and American interests in the Middle East.

“At a time when the anti-terrorist coalition of nations is struggling to maintain pressure on Hamas, Mr. Carter's action can only serve to undermine that effort. Once again, Mr. Carter seems more comfortable with extremists and terrorists than with democratic friends like Israel, which he lambasted in his book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.

“It would be better for all if Mr. Carter would permanently remove the Middle East from his agenda.” [1]

Another article at the ADL website says the following:
“There is much speculation about Carter's motives -- religious, personal, financial. In the end, none of that matters. What does matter is that he is an adversary of the State of Israel and we have our responsibility to treat him accordingly.” [2] (Emphasis added)

More recently, Mr. Carter has been the source of controversy and criticism from both the conservative side and the White House for his statement that Joe Wilson’s shout of “You Lie!” during President Obama’s health care speech of September 9 was motivated by racism. Several prominent people, including RNC Chairman Michael Steele, and White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs (who speaks for Obama) have expressed their disagreement with Carter’s accusation. Or, as New York Daily News senior correspondent David Saltonstall put it: “White House to Jimmy Carter: Stop helping us.” [3]



Carter’s racism accusation fits the pattern of several instances of liberals playing the race card recently. “The suggestion that race is behind criticism of Obama has been made by New York Gov. David Paterson and Reps. Charlie Rangel of New York, Diane Watson of California and Hank Johnson of Georgia, among others…. According to Johnson, people will be putting on ‘white hoods and white uniforms again and riding through the countryside’ if emerging racist attitudes, like those subtly supported by Wilson, are not rebuked.” [4]

Concerning Rep. Joe Wilson: “‘There is not a racist bone in my dad’s body,’ said Alan Wilson [Joe Wilson’s son], an Iraq veteran. ‘He doesn't even laugh at distasteful jokes.’” [5]

It seems to me that former President Jimmy Carter has shown some seriously questionable judgment on these issues and has not contributed constructively, but rather has succeeded in offending and hurting people who didn’t deserve it. He questions their motives, but he might want to look at his own.

[1] “ADL Comments On Jimmy Carter's Intent To Meet With The Head Of Hamas” 04/11/08 at http://www.adl.org/PresRele/IslME_62/5267_62.htm.

[2] Kenneth Jacobson, “Jimmy Carter: So What’s New?” at http://www.adl.org/ADL_Opinions/Israel/20080430-Op-ed.htm.
This article originally appeared in the New Jersey Jewish Standard on May 1, 2008.

[3] David Saltonstall, “Jimmy Carter gets flak for racism charge against Rep. Joe Wilson - even from White House,” at http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/2009/09/17/2009-09-17_jimmy_carter_gets_flak_for_racism_charge__even_from_white_house.html#ixzz0RQjyXzIR.

[4] Fox News, “Carter ‘Racism’ Claim Draws Widespread Criticism,” 09/16/09 at
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/09/16/carter-racism-claim-draws-widespread-criticism/.

[5] Saltonstall, see [3].

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