Bozell Column: Still More Carter-Coddling
While the Bushes have remained dignified and largely silent as ex-presidents, Carter and Bill Clinton just cannot resist venomously attacking Republican presidents and conservative politicians, perhaps because whenever they do this, TV anchors bow and scrape before them and hail their “achievements” and compassion and generosity of spirit toward mankind.
And so we have to put up with this megalomaniacal failure, along with his tired, angry opinions yet again. On CNN, Larry King asked if the Tea Party was racist. (That question is as insulting as King is old, and CNN irrelevant.) Carter answered that it is only a tiny minority, but then added that it’s goaded by Fox News and Newt Gingrich. “I think that Gingrich five years ago would be embarrassed at what Newt Gingrich is saying today and doing today.” He said because Gingrich is running for president, he has to “go hard right and appeal to the extreme.”
But Carter feels poor Obama is “suffering from perhaps the worst Washington environment of any president in history, and I would even include Abraham Lincoln as we led up to the war between the states.” Amazing, isn’t it? Carter can sit there and say ridiculous junk – failing to get one or two Republican votes on liberal bills is a darker and more divided political environment than the prelude to the Civil War? – and Larry King just nods. No wonder he’s been put out to pasture.
Speaking of ludicrous claims, on “60 Minutes,” CBS reporter Lesley Stahl asserted that Carter was the most successful president in modern times, more successful than even Ronald Reagan. "But when all is said and done, and many will be surprised to hear this: Jimmy Carter got more of his programs passed than Reagan and Nixon, Ford, Bush 1, Clinton or Bush 2."
And many would most certainly not be surprised to hear that Lesley Stahl would try to rewrite history this foolishly on national TV. Passing a number of “programs” isn’t a measure of success. Doesn’t it matter if those programs worked? Did Carter’s legislation succeed in whipping inflation and bringing full employment? Or did he preside over the most disastrous economy since the Great Depression? Did he get the hostages home? Or were they sent home out of fear of incoming President Reagan?
Stahl wasn’t done, fortunately for this column, which is writing itself: "A lot of critics of yours, when you were President, say that you've been a fantastic ex-President. You hear that all the time."
Click. Change channel. On “Today,” NBC’s Matt Lauer inquired how Carter might be evaluated today by people who were born after 1980. (In other words, people who didn’t live through the misery of Carter’s incompetence.) If they read Carter’s book, would they think his presidency was a success or failure? Naturally, said Carter, “I think success.” He claimed to advance peace and human rights – despite troubling facts like the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the communist takeover of pretty much every damn country they wanted on his watch.
Carter also took a turn with NBC anchor Brian Williams, who worked as a White House Fellow during Carter’s presidency. (He didn’t mention that.) Williams lauded Carter’s “brutally honest” book, and noticed a recent photo of assembled presidents showed Carter a little off to one side. He asked sympathetically: “What is it about you, you think, the way you've decided to conduct your life in post-presidency? Do you feel listened to? Do you feel that you received your due, or do you feel, in fact, apart from the crowd?”
Carter was brutally honest, all right – about his own inflated self-importance. “No, I feel that my role as a former president is probably superior to that of other presidents, primarily because of the activism and the injection of working of the Carter Center into international affairs, and to some degree domestic affairs.”
Williams did note that after the taping, this statement “raised tension and eyebrows,” but Carter could only retort, not retract: "What I meant was for 27 years the Carter Center has provided me with superior opportunities to do good."
Like King, Williams wanted Carter’s commentary on how “such high numbers of people believe that this American-born Christian president is either foreign-born or a Muslim or both?” Carter obliged by slamming Fox News for “totally distorting everything possible concerning the facts.”
This, from the man who thinks it’s factual that he was better for America than Ronald Reagan.