What are we going to do with Jimmy Carter? The man has gone from being a joke to someone who is suddenly very unfunny.
Some folks I know think he is senile. Others believe he is bitter about his failed presidency and is trying to make sure we all understand that if he can't make it to Mount Rushmore, George W. Bush isn't going to either.
A lot of native Georgians who remember his earlier days in Georgia politics view him as a shameless hypocrite who made a big deal of refusing to attend Dr. Martin Luther King's funeral while running for governor and pandering for racist votes. I waited to hear him apologize for his actions at the funeral of King's widow, Coretta Scott King. I'm still waiting.
But he has outdone himself this time. The nation of Israel has long been one of our staunchest allies, surrounded by a bunch of thug nations dedicated to its destruction. Along with Great Britain, Israel is our only true friend in the world. Or to put it another way, I don't have a lot of faith that anybody in the United Nations gives a hoot for us, except for the size of our checkbook.
As you no doubt know by now, Carter decided to bop over to the Middle East on his own and meet with officials of Hamas. This is an organization that refuses to recognize Israel's existence and is well-known for killing people in Israel and in Palestine region who disagree with them.
Oh, and did I mention that Hamas is listed by the United States, Israel and the European Union as an international terrorist organization? Details, details.
President Peanut laid a wreath at the tomb of Yasser Arafat, the late, unlamented head of the PLO; played huggy-kissy with Nasser Shaer, a senior Hamas politician; and then traipsed off to Syria to meet with Hamas' Damascus-based leader, Khaled Meshaal, who was reported in 2006 as saying, "Before Israel dies, it must be humiliated and degraded. Allah willing, before they die, they will experience humiliation and degradation every day. Allah willing, we will make them lose their eyesight, we will make them lose their brains."
Meshaal seems to have lost his brain several camel trips ago.
With his out-of-control ego in full throttle, Carter has managed to give legitimacy to a hardline terrorist group, has made it harder for moderate Palestinians to play any role in any Middle East peace process and has effectively undermined U.S. foreign policy in the region. All in one single unauthorized trip. He has also positioned Israel as the bad guy, again. Remember, it was Carter who accused the Israelis of practicing apartheid and then refused to debate the issue while hawking his book on the subject.
I will give Carter this much credit. He is willing to sandbag Republicans and Democrats alike. He pulled the same kind of stunt on the Clinton administration in 1994, taking his traveling medicine show to North Korea to broker a nuclear disarmament deal with North Korean dictator Kim Il Sung. That was a flop.
This abortive effort will flop, too. The only thing that will come from it is that Islamic terrorist groups will use his visit to their propaganda advantage and to this nation's detriment. Carter is like the bratty kid who comes to your house, tears the place up and leaves you to clean up the mess he made.
Carter's presidency was a fluke. He had a political genius working for him named Hamilton Jordan who could have gotten Homer Simpson elected president. His opponent, Gerald Ford, had not been elected and had pardoned his disgraced predecessor, Richard Nixon, angering many in the nation.
Carter happened to be in the right place at the right time and was seriously unqualified to be our commander in chief. He proved that in his one-term presidency.
He has been trying to rehabilitate his image ever since. But nothing gives him the right to stick his nose in this nation's foreign policy and give aid and comfort to our enemies.
I would suggest Jimmy Carter stick to woodworking and writing bad poems. We'd all sleep better if he did.
Dick Yarbrough is a North Georgia resident whose column appears Saturdays and on gainesvilletimes.com. You can reach him at P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, GA 31139; or visit his Web site. First published April 26, 2008.