Monday, May 9, 2011


Readers of this blog may have figured out that, to put it politely, I despise former President Jimmy Carter.  Jimmy Carter was an awful president.  His economic policies were a disaster and his foreign policy helped bring us Iran and Islamist fundamentalism on a world scale. Carter was a micro-manager who failed to inspire or lead.

Despite his multiple year campaign to create a post-presidential image as a senior statesmen, peacemaker, and overall do-gooder, his conduct as a former president has been despicable. He often undercuts and embarrasses the sitting president. He seems to have never met a brutal dictator for whom he cannot find time to provide an empathetic ear.  Continuing to demonstrate that he is beholden to Arab despots and their money, he has not yet  noticed that the Arab public is crying out for freedom while their "leaders" fire live ammo at them.  Lastly, he is a bigot; he is a classic Jew hater.

 In his book, Peace Not Apartheid, and in other writings and statements, Carter has helped tremendously the campaign to label Israel an apartheid state, giving vital assistance to those who would demonize, delegitimize, and destroy the only Jewish majority country in the world. 

Some argue that these anti-Israel activities are not evidence of Jew hatred but, rather, simple but strong disagreement with Israel’s policies. So, to make sure there is no doubt about his Jew hatred, Carter has sealed the indictment by repeatedly spouting some classic anti-Semitic canards. When Jews and many others strongly disagreed with assertions and flat-out errors in his book, he has countered that they are trying to stifle debate.  In other words, they control the media.

When pro-Israel Jews lobby strenously on American foreign policy, and a majority of Americans and Congress agree with them, they wield too much power in Congress and control policy.  It could not be that Americans just don’t agree with Carter or that he frequently gets it wrong.  In Jimmy Carter's self-righteous world, he has to be right and those who beat him could not possibly have fought fairly.  So it had to be the Jews' power and control that caused people to reject his arguments. Classic Jew hatred. Nothing new or imaginative.

I have some strong concerns about what I consider President Obama’s naïve, somewhat incoherent and unclear foreign policy, and an overall projection of weakness and confusion. While we may be seeing some changes in approach, I think his Middle East policies have been particularly weak and have helped create a vacuum that Iran and its proxies are happy to fill.

I also feel that the President's initial approach to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute was particularly misguided, unfair to Israel, and destructive to the prospects for peace, if there are any. His seemingly single-minded emphasis on halting building in every “settlement” and his failure to distinguish between types and locations of settlements, threw up a condition that delayed and perhaps destroyed chances for direct negotiations.  Recent fairly frank comments by Palestinian Authority President Abbas confirm that President Obama put Abbas in an untenable position and that the Administration’s efforts at being an intermediary were amateurish.

Despite my very strong objections to President Obama’s foreign policy, I have never put him in the Jimmy Carter category. President Obama is a smart, articulate person, although unfortunately naive and often ignorant when it comes to Israeli-Palestinian affairs.  One does wonder how a leader dedicated to equality and fairness could sit in the pews of a church for 20 some years while his minister spewed hatred.  Still, President Obama has never exhibited anything like the bigotry and hate of Jimmy Carter. 

So, I have been adverse to those that argue President Obama is the second coming of President Carter.  

However, there have been a few eerie developments in the last few weeks.  First, there was the announcement that growth for the quarter sunk to 1.8%. Then came the announcements that inflation may be taking hold, due largely to increased costs of food and fuel. Those old enough can remember the word “stagflation," a term invented to describe the very weak economy and hyper-inflation visited on the nation by the Carter Administration. Then came the topper: a headline declaring that there might be gas shortages in the Eastern U.S.  Ahh, memories of waiting in line to fill up my putrid green/yellow Ford Pinto. (It had a landau top!)

These are some eerie similarities. However, I don’t think this President is stupid enough to blame the problems on the American people themselves as Carter did in the infamous “malaise” speech. By the way, as Ted Kennedy recounted in his autobiography, True Compass, President Carter never actually used the word “malaise.” Someone else tagged the speech with that title. (If you think I am the only one who intensely dislikes Carter, read Kennedy’s chapter on him.)

So short of American embassy employees being taken hostage,  I doubt President Obama will be tagged as the second Jimmy Carter. And if American hostages were to be taken, and if the President felt the situation warranted a military rescue, I have a feeling the rescue effort would look a little different than Carter's attempt to rescue the American embassy workers taken hostage by Iran: six or eight helicopters flying into the desert and quickly becoming disabled due to sand fouling their blades and engines.

I wrote the words above on the airplane ride over from California to Israel.  When I got off the plane, I learned about the assassination of Osama bin Laden, which confirms my feeling that the President wouldn't give the go-ahead to a half-hearted, ill-conceived operation.  He is safe from being called the new Carter, something every president should want to avoid at all costs.

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