Why I Have Lost Respect For Jimmy Carter
From my own perspective, I would say that former President Jimmy Carter has been probably the most surprising personality in recent years. His level of outspokenness and willingness to criticize the Bush administration is far beyond anything that I have seen from someone of his stature in my lifetime. We all knew that <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Clinton would be a public figure after his stint in the White House, but I never imagined how forcefully Carter would endeavor to insert himself back into the public spot light.
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I first heard of Carter in early 1976. He was a candidate for the democratic primary. Carter professed to be a born-again Christian. That endeared me to him without further qualification, and appeared to be a refreshing moniker for those who wanted to escape any semblance of the political apparatus lurking in the shadow of Watergate. We were looking for a fresh start, a new approach, a simplistic honesty in government. Carter fit that mold, and I would have voted for him had I not been several months shy of voting age in November of 1976.
I gleefully watched Carter's inauguration during my High School history class. I was convinced that America was entering a new and wonderful age of godliness, renewal and civility. In those days of naiveté, I never distinguished between "liberal" or "conservative" Christians, nor did I consider how a particular candidate would appeal to various socioeconomic categories of people. I just assumed that everyone voted for the statesman they thought was best for America as a whole.
I saw that very clearly as I proceeded on with my life. I volunteered for the Army, and arrived at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, late in August of 1977. One of the first blatantly negative comments about Carter came at that time. A cadre sergeant was leading a group on us who had to process our paperwork. He paused in the hallway of the administrative office where pictures of the "chain-of-command" were affixed to the wall. He pointed to the picture of then President Carter and announced: "Don't worry men; some day we will get a leader who is good for the military again." At the time I was a bit perplexed by his comment, but knew better then to question it.
During my time in the military, I was sheltered from the economic dissatisfaction of the American economy of the late 70's. But I knew what was going on by following current events. From the time that Carter brokered the accord between Egypt and Israel forward, I seemed to become less and less fond of him. It came to the point that in early 1980, when Carter visited a group on Marines in the burn unit at Brooke Army Medical Center, I didn't even bother to go see him. He faced an energy crisis, poor economy, the Iranian revolution, and the aborted hostage rescue mission. The Carter regime had been a miserable failure, but until a few years ago, I greatly respected Jimmy Carter as a person. I thought he was a great example in his work with Habitat for Humanity.
Carter began to lose more esteem in my eyes when he started publicly attacking the policies of President Bush. I felt it was a crass breach of presidential protocol. I can't imagine the senior President Bush lambasting a sitting president as he has routinely done. In my mind, Carter had emerged from the woodwork of his private endeavors to cast senseless aspersions on the way Bush was prosecuting the War on Terrorism. Carter's criticism seemed unwarranted to me, and it smacked of sour grapes, which to me was unbecoming to his demeanor as a Christian gentleman. His positions seemed to be more in line with those of his predecessor, George McGovern, rather than anything I could identify with. I discovered how liberal his politics were and wondered if he was always that leftist in his orientation. I read his recent interview in Mother Jones magazine, in which he criticized the "church and state" positions of Bush and the late Chief Justice Rehnquist. His analysis of that issue was very knee-jerk and uninformed. He wrote a book called "Our Endangered Values," which in places reads like an ultra-liberal manifesto.
In the interview cited above, much concern was voiced over the union between Right-wing politics and religious fundamentalism. What Carter and other liberals overlook in their pseudo-critical analysis, is the vacuum the Democratic Party has created by abandoning personal morality and corresponding public decency. For example, Carter, while admitting a biblical prohibition against homosexual conduct, seems to feel that the right is fixated with opposing it at the neglect of equal vices. He never sees this as a function of the juggernaut of the gay rights agenda, but a phenomenon of inexplicable character. Consequently, Carter, like other liberals, seems willing to confine "morality" to the governmental implementation of certain principles from the "Sermon on the Mount;" thereby creating his own questionable approach to "church and state" separation.
In my mind, it seems Carter is trying to obliterate the legacy of a difficult presidency with radical activism. He has been a disappointing surprise indeed.
Robert E. Meyer
Worldview Weekend Foundation
PO BOX 1690
Collierville, TN, 38027 USA