Former President Jimmy Carter made some news the other day by questioning the “legitimacy” of Donald Trump’s election as president, suggesting that Trump is in office only because of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
What has gotten little attention, though, was the setting in which Carter made the statements. He was conducting his annual human rights conference at the Carter Center in Atlanta, which seeks to call attention to one of the hallmarks of the former president’s single term in office.
Jimmy Carter made human rights arguably the hallmark of his foreign policy, which of course have been virtually ignored by Donald Trump.
While the current president kowtows to dictators, strongmen and despots, the former president called attention to their hideous treatment of fellow human beings.
A foreign hostile power led by a strongman attacked our electoral system in 2016 and the president blows it off. Trump speaks glowingly of a North Korean tyrant, talking about the “beautiful letters” he receives from the overfed Kim Jong Un, who lives in relative luxury while his fellow North Koreans are starving. Oh, and then the president recently spoke directly to Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman, telling him how “honored” he was to meet the man who has been implicated in the gruesome murder and dismemberment of Saudi-born Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
President Carter’s legacy is still being determined. Historians are going to argue perhaps for the rest of time about the quality of his single term in office. On the issue of human rights and the huge stake Carter placed on furthering them, there can be no argument.
Jimmy Carter towers over Donald Trump in that critical regard. If only the current president understood the danger he poses when he cozies up to killers.