CRAWFORD, Texas (Reuters) – The White House on Sunday fired back at former President Jimmy Carter, calling him “increasingly irrelevant” a day after Carter described George W. Bush’s presidency as the worst in history in international relations.Carter, a Democrat, said on Saturday in an interview with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that “as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history.”White House spokesman Tony Fratto had declined to react on Saturday but on Sunday fired back.“I think it’s sad that President Carter’s reckless personal criticism is out there,” Fratto told reporters. “I think it’s unfortunate. And I think he is proving to be increasingly irrelevant with these kinds of comments.”Carter has been an outspoken critic of Bush, but the White House has largely refrained from attacking him in return. Sunday’s sharp response marks a departure from the deference that sitting presidents traditionally have shown their predecessors.In the newspaper interview, Carter said Bush had taken a “radical departure from all previous administration policies” with the Iraq war.“We now have endorsed the concept of pre-emptive war where we go to war with another nation militarily, even though our own security is not directly threatened, if we want to change the regime there or if we fear that some time in the future our security might be endangered,” Carter said.In a separate BBC interview, Carter also denounced the close relationship between Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.“Abominable. Loyal, blind, apparently subservient,” Carter said when asked how he would characterize Blair’s relationship with Bush.”I think that the almost undeviating support by Great Britain for the ill-advised policies of President Bush in Iraq have been a major tragedy for the world,” Carter said.Carter, who was president from 1977-1981 and won the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize for his charitable work, was an outspoken opponent of the invasion of Iraq before it was launched in 2003. [Source: Reuters.com]
Across the blogosphere, conservatives are now making the rather shocking claim that 9/11 occurred as a result of Jimmy Carter’s policies. In a way, it’s amusing, since most of those bloggers are too young to even remember the Carter presidency. As a middle-aged left Libertarian, I remember it well. Jimmy Carter was the first president I ever voted for, although he lost that time around to Ronald Reagan. I voted for Carter because he is a humanist who believes in a strict policy of non-military intervention in international affairs, opting instead for diplomacy, except if our national security is directly threatened. After all, I was alive during Vietnam, and during the height of the Cold War, so that was (and will always be) an extremely important issue for me.
At the same time, it’s typical that conservatives would find a way to blame the actions of George W Bush – decades after Jimmy Carter left office – on a liberal. After all, they can’t blame themselves for re-electing a known warmonger who openly advocates torture and the erosion of our civil rights …. can they?
Let’s compare the two presidents.
Jimmy Carter won the Nobel Peace Prize. George W. Bush couldn’t even win second prize in a beauty contest on Monopoly.
Jimmy Carter is known as a peace-advocating diplomat, and a humanitarian. George W Bush is known as a lying, draft-dodging, bloodthirsty warmongerer.
Don’t blame a man, who advocated peace, for a war that started decades after he left office. And don’t just dismiss him because he dared to say what many, if not most, politically active Americans are already thinking.
Put the blame where the blame is due. This is a war based on lies and deceptions, all of which are directly traceable and attributable to the Bush administration. There were no WMDs, folks, and Bush knew there were no WMDs; but he attacked Iraq anyway because they might one day get WMDs. Huh? I’m still scratching my head about that one. Now, Bush wants to attack even more countries, and the Democrats have already backed off the promises they made when they were elected, to end the war in Iraq. Is it therefore any wonder that third parties are more attractive than ever to voters during the 2008 presidential election cycle?
Where’s Osama bin Laden, incidentally? We can see a quarter on the ground from space, yet we can’t find a strange-looking human giant hiding in the Middle East despite our best military efforts (and despite the fact that the government of Afghanistan offered to hand him over if only the US would provide proof that bin Laden was behind the 9/11 attacks)?
Puh-lease. I suspect we’re not even looking for him, because we already know where he is; and that the Bush administration is sitting on that information so he can be miraculously “captured” closer to the ’08 elections for maximum Republican political gain. After all, as soon as Osama bin Laden is captured, public support for the war will drop to zero, but in the meantime Bush has used the 9/11 attacks as an excuse to not only attack a foreign nation, but also to erode our civil rights to the point of erasure.
Bush and Cheney have greatly increased their personal wealth as a result of this war based on lies, while the average American is paying over $3.00 a gallon for gas, and home foreclosures are at an all-time high. Yet, some people still defend Bush when a past president points out that his warmongering is both damaging and atrocious. Of course Bush’s White House spokesman is going to attack Jimmy Carter for his statements, since that’s his job. Yet, no one elected Fratto to anything, and therefore no intelligent person with a mind of their own cares about his opinions. As a result, the only opinion which is truly irrelevant in this situation is Fratto’s.
If Carter’s opinions were truly irrelevant, the White House would have no need to respond at all. They responded because they know that many, many Americans agree with Jimmy Carter, and that Jimmy Carter still has quite a following in this country. So calling Carter’s comments – and Carter himself – “irrelevant”, is just another pathetic attempt at damage control, by also attempting to render “irrelevant” the considered opinion of millions of Americans.
According to many sources, a minimum of 64,000 Iraqis have died, along with at least 3,000 American soldiers. Official records state that over 23,000 American soldiers have been wounded in this war, while other sources place that number much higher. Read that again. Do more deaths make it right, when no action is being taken to bring the man who ordered 9/11 to justice, and in reality we are attacking a country with no WMDs and which was not responsible for 9/11?
Blaming – and attempting to render irrelevant – past presidents who dare to speak out against the Bush administration’s wartime atrocities will do nothing to change the fact that Bush lied, and tens of thousands died. Thousands more were tortured, and the torture continues. Thousands are being held without charge, in violation of the Constitution. Habeus corpus has been suspended, and all the Bush administration has to say in order to hold someone without charge, and without an attorney, is that they are suspected of war crimes. It doesn’t matter whether that claim true or not, in Bush’s BizarroWorld.
And Congress sits back, and lets these atrocities continue. Sure, they give a lot of lip service, but in the end they have not done, and will not do, what they were specifically elected to accomplish. They will continue to look the other way, until of course someone they know disappears into the torture chambers at Gitmo, or elsewhere. Then, perhaps they’ll realize the gravity of the situation.
Clearly, the mainstream parties have proven, time and again, that they cannot be trusted to truly represent the American people. Many Libertarians now support Ron Paul, but many others distrust Republicans so much that they won’t support Ron Paul even if he looks good on paper, because they just don’t trust politicians from either major party to do anything they promise to do if elected. I fall into the latter category. I have never voted for a Republican presidential candidate, and I will not do so in 2008.
So while Jimmy Carter may wish to soften his statement and say he was comparing Bush only to Nixon, I won’t. George W. Bush will indeed be known as the worst president in American history – a dubious distinction which, in the minds of millions, he already holds.
The LP has an opportunity at this point in history which it may never have again. Forget marijuana legalization, and online gambling. Forget about whether prostitution should be legalized, or whether there should be a law requiring people to wear seatbelts. The average American isn’t focusing on those issues and, compared to war, they are non-issues. If the LP focused on the war issue, pointing out at every juncture how the major parties lied when they got us into it and lied when they said they’d get us out, we’d attract a lot more members, a lot more activists, a lot more financial support, and a lot more votes. This would not be a campaign for the weak of heart, though, because the major parties will strike back, and we need to be ready to defend our stance with facts and statistics.
In other words, the LP needs to be ready, willing, and able to finally step up to the challenges of big-time cut-throat politics, and in the process beat the Republicans and the Democrats over the head with their lies and prevarications, to the point that we can no longer be ignored. We need to come up with a viable plan to get us out of this mess, along with a respectable well-spoken candidate with no major skeletons in their closet, who would be acceptable to and respected by the average American; and keep focusing on the anti-war stance at every political level no matter what the other parties throw at us. That is the only way the LP will make its mark. If the candidates are not willing to do all of the above, they’re wasting their time, and our money.