I don’t know how Jimmy Carter can look himself in the mirror. He has made hypocrisy an art form.
Carter was asked recently about the actions of South Carolina Republican Rep. Joe Wilson, who stunned the crowd during President Barack Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress on health care reform a couple of weeks ago by yelling, "You lie!" at the president’s assertion that reforms would not be made available to illegal immigrants. He opined that Wilson’s remarks were "an act based on racism."
He should know. He is poster boy for acts based on racism. That is how he became governor of Georgia.
You’ve heard it before, but it bears repeating: In 1970, Carter ran one of the nastiest, most racist campaigns imaginable against former Gov. Carl Sanders, who unlike his counterparts in neighboring states had taken the high road on race relations during the turbulent mid-’60s. Carter slandered Sanders every way possible, from calling him a (shudder) "liberal" to looking the other way when his integrity-impaired lackeys showered Klan meetings with photos of Sanders with his arm around a black basketball player.
Sanders had rejected an effort by the legislature to bring race-baiting Alabama Gov. George Wallace to Atlanta, but Carter pledged that if elected he would invite Wallace to address the General Assembly.
Carter also refused to attend the funeral of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968, while his campaign staff noted ominously that Sanders had paid tribute to King.
Carter then had the unmitigated gall in 2006 to appear at Coretta Scott King’s funeral and use his time to trash President George W. Bush, who was seated behind him, instead of apologizing for the disrespect he had shown Dr. King and his followers after the civil rights leader’s assassination. The black opportunists who gave him his soapbox showed an equal lack of class. If they had a shred of decency, they would have remembered those days when Carter was treating them like second-class citizens. Sanders had too much integrity to demean blacks just to get elected. Carter did not.
Keep your fingers crossed, but since Obama became president, you have not seen Carter traipsing around the world, criticizing sitting presidents and trying to make his own foreign policy. I would be sorely disappointed if our current president allowed this egomaniac to jeopardize our national security in order feed his craving for the limelight. Let him write his pontificating op-ed pieces for the New York Times. They deserve each other.
Georgia has produced some great public figures in my lifetime: senators like Richard Russell, Walter George and Sam Nunn; representatives like Carl Vinson, Phil Landrum and Charles Weltner. Carter is not in that group. He is an accident of history and would still be shelling peanuts in Plains had President Gerald Ford not pardoned Richard Nixon and enraged a nation. In 1976, voters would have elected Elmer Fudd president. Instead, they elected Carter. Same difference.
Carter’s one-term presidency (and, yes, I was in Washington the whole time) was a dud and pretty much assures his ranking as one of the worst presidents in our nation’s history. Bush may join him on the list, but I doubt Bush gives a rat’s behind what we think of him. Carter desperately wants to be loved and admired. Good luck with that. Even Ted Kennedy didn’t like him.
I have chosen to ignore most of President Peanut’s holier-than-thou pronouncements because of my wise daddy’s advice: "Consider the source." But when this guy calls anybody a racist, I can’t let that pass. That is like calling a pig ugly.
Jimmy Carter either has a highly selective memory or no shame. Or both.
Side note: This week marks my 500th syndicated column. I wasn’t sure how long I wanted to do this, but I discovered my observations tend to hearten my friends and frustrate my enemies, so I keep on going. Besides, I may be the only columnist who has been able to unite gay groups and flaggers in a common cause: Both hyperventilate at the mention of my name. I consider that high praise.
Dick Yarbrough is a North Georgia resident whose column appears Saturdays and on gainesvilletimes.com.