Tag Archives: Jimmy Carter

Camp David might have hosted the Taliban? Are you kidding?

The more I think about it the more offended I am at the notion of Taliban war lords/terrorists setting foot on one of our nation’s more honored sites: Camp David.

Donald Trump reportedly — at least that’s what he has said — had planned to bring Taliban goons to Camp David to work out a peace deal between the terror group and U.S. diplomats. Then he canceled the meeting because of the Taliban’s involvement in a recent bombing that killed a U.S. serviceman, among other innocent victims.

Trump called it off on the spot. I don’t object to that decision, per se.

However, what is most objectionable is that he had planned to bring the monsters to this presidential retreat in the Maryland mountains.

The last great diplomatic victory at Camp David took place in the late 1970s, when President Carter played host to Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin to hammer out a peace agreement between those two ancient enemies. It turned out to be a monumental achievement reached by a head of state and a head of government in a setting hosted by another head of state.

Other presidents have played host to other heads of state and government over the years. Camp David — which President Eisenhower renamed after his grandson, David Eisenhower — has served as a place where presidents get to know their international colleagues in a more intimate and casual setting than the White House.

The idea that a new U.S. head of state would “welcome” the Taliban to that hallowed place is offensive on its face.

I need not chronicle what the Taliban have done to their victims as they pervert their Islamic religion in the name of pure evil.

Suffice to say that these are seriously bad actors who have no justification taking part in any sort of activity where such history has occurred.

Human rights, Mr. POTUS; they matter, too!

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.

Wondering how Trump will transition into a former POTUS

Former President Jimmy Carter’s surprisingly tart assessment of Donald Trump’s “legitimacy” as president has prompted me to start thinking about the future.

I’ll explain in a moment.

Carter said Trump was elected president only because the Russians hacked into our electoral system in 2016 and pushed him across the finish line ahead of Hillary Clinton. He is challenging the legitimacy of Trump’s presidency. Trump, quite naturally, fired back. He called Carter a “failed president” and has dismissed the former president’s assertions about the legitimacy of the 2016 election result.

“Look, he was a nice man. He was a terrible president. He’s a Democrat. And it’s a typical talking point. He’s loyal to the Democrats. And I guess you should be,” Trump told reporters in Japan, where he attended the G20 meeting. “As everybody now understands, I won not because of Russia, not because of anybody but myself.”

Historians are still chronicling Jimmy Carter’s single term as president, from 1977 to 1981. However, the jury has returned a verdict on the 39th president’s time since leaving the White House. It has determined that Carter’s dedication to humanitarian causes, to free and fair elections, to his work with Habitat Humanity, his return to a modest lifestyle and his dedication to biblical teaching has made him arguably the greatest former president in U.S. history.

While the current president fires off tweets and makes preposterous statements about President Carter’s legacy, I am left to wonder: What kind of former president will Donald Trump become?

The good news for all of us is that Trump will not be president forever. He’ll either be gone after the 2020 election or he’ll exit the White House, per the Constitution’s requirement, after the 2024 election. I shudder at the prospect of Trump winning re-election.

It is fair to wonder, though, about several aspects of a Trump post-presidential era.

What will this individual do to further the agenda he has sought to build as president? Is this man capable of dedicating himself to good work, to establishing a foundation that seeks to promote some noble endeavor? Can you imagine him working with poor nations, the places he once referred to as “sh**hole countries” as they seek to rid themselves of violence or repression? Is it within anyone’s realm of imagination to picture Donald Trump throwing himself into inner-city turmoil, working with young people to help guide them to productive lives?

Thus, when I hear Donald Trump denigrate a former president, such as Jimmy Carter, who has become the epitome of character, grace, humility, integrity and dignity I am forced to ponder whether No. 45 is even in the same league as No. 39.

I keep coming up with the same answer.

Hell no!

39th POTUS lowers the boom on No. 45

James Earl Carter made a little news today.

I don’t know if it’s ever happened before, but the 39th president of the United States likely is the first former president to question the legitimacy of the current president.

And to think it came from someone — President Carter — who has said publicly that he prays for Donald Trump to succeed while he is serving as president of the United States. Indeed, Carter recently spoke of a phone call he took from Trump in which the president, according to his predecessor, could not have been more gracious, kind and respectful.

Has the former president turned on the current guy in the White House? President Carter said the Russian attack on our election in 2016 was intended to elect Donald Trump. It succeeded. Without the Russian interference, according to Carter, Trump would have lost the election to Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Most remarkable of all, perhaps, is that Vladimir Putin has actually said on the record that he interfered for the expressed purpose of electing Donald Trump.

Therefore, in the former president’s mind, Donald Trump is an “illegitimate” president.

To my way of thinking, the idea that such a condemnation would come from a man of impeccable integrity gives this accusation added gravitas. Of course, one must take into account the undeniable fact that Jimmy Carter likely isn’t privy to the details of what might have occurred while the Russians were attacking our electoral process.

Still, the former president has sounded a stern word of condemnation about one of his presidential successors. We should not dismiss it out of hand.

Lying has become ‘tolerable’ among politicians?

Jimmy Carter once promised that he would never lie to Americans if they elected him president of the United States.

To the best of my knowledge and memory, the 39th president kept that promise. Perhaps he didn’t tell us everything in real time about sensitive negotiations with Egyptian President and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin as they crafted a comprehensive peace treaty. He might have held back on what he told Iranian leaders who held our citizens hostage for 444 days in 1979-80.

I don’t believe he lied.

We fast-forward now to the present day. The current president has demonstrated that he cannot tell the truth.

Donald Trump lies at every level. He lies when he doesn’t need to lie. He lies when it is easier to tell the truth. He lies about matters large and small.

I cannot single out the major lies he has told. They usually involve a political foe. He will say something that puts someone in a negative light. If it’s a lie, well, so be it.

The petty lies are equally remarkable. He lied about his late father being born in Germany; Fred Trump was born in New York City. He lied about losing friends on 9/11; he lost zero friends, he attended zero funerals of those who died on that terrible day.

Trump is lying at an astonishing pace. The Washington Post is keeping a running tabulation the falsehoods; it has passed the 10,000 mark so far and the pace is quickening.

I mention all of this because Donald Trump keeps insisting that he has been “totally exonerated” regarding the Russia matter. No, he hasn’t.

Thus, Trump lies even when the public record demonstrates precisely the opposite to be true. Robert Mueller’s report on his investigation into alleged collusion is clear: The special counsel could not clear Trump of obstruction of justice; nor could he prosecute him. Still, Trump lies when he says he has been “totally exonerated.”

How in the world can we accept a single thing this individual says as truth? My view: We cannot. 

Jimmy Carter: longevity record-setter

Jimmy Carter served a single term as president of the United States. He won the office in a bit of a nail-biter in 1976, defeating incumbent President Gerald Ford.

President Carter lost his re-election bid four years later in a landslide to Ronald Reagan.

He has lived with a decidedly mixed presidential legacy ever since. However, let it be here as the former president becomes the oldest living former president that his legacy is destined to improve as time continues to march on.

President Carter on Friday will surpass the late President George H.W. Bush as the oldest former president. The 39th president already holds the record for being having lived longer than anyone past the time he left the presidency.

I want to salute this good man because he stands in such a sharp contrast to what we are witnessing these days in the White House.

There was never a scandal to besmirch his administration. He vowed never to “lie” to us and as near as I can tell he kept that pledge. President Carter has lived a life according to the Scripture to which he has been devoted. He left office after a stunning landslide loss and then became arguably the most admired former president in recent history. He has built houses for underprivileged people worldwide for Habitat for Humanity. He founded the Carter Center in Atlanta, using the center as a forum to promote free and fair elections and to be a watchdog on behalf of human rights, one of the hallmark themes of his presidency.

I know the president had a mixed record as our head of state. He did, though, broker a permanent peace deal between Israel and Egypt. Yes, he launched that ill-fated mission to rescue Americans held captive in Iran and struggled for 444 days trying to negotiate those who were taken hostage by Iranian radicals in November 1979.

All of that and a floundering economy contributed to his crushing defeat. He left office as proud as he was when he entered it and has gone on to live a modest life in his beloved Plains, Ga. He is still teaching Sunday school at his church and has battled cancer.

He is a champion worthy of admiration of a nation he led.

Congratulations, Mr. President.

How might Joe Biden channel The Gipper? Here’s how

Joe Biden is the political star of the moment.

Democrats are waiting with bated breath for the former vice president to declare his expected candidacy for the presidency of the United States. He’s dropping hints all over the place that he’s decided to make one final run for the top job.

Oh, and then we have former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke who’s playing a similar cat-and-mouse game with Democrats and the media. He, too, is sounding and looking like a candidate in the making.

Here’s my thought about all of that.

Biden is in his late 70s; Beto is in his mid-40s. I harken back to 1976 when former California Gov. Ronald Reagan challenged President Ford for the Republican presidential nomination.

Gov. Reagan shook things up a good bit by naming Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. Richard Schweiker as his running mate prior to the GOP nominating convention in Kansas City, Mo.

Is there an avenue for Biden to select O’Rourke as his VP running mate and the two of them could run as a ticket for the Democratic Party’s nomination next year?

Oh, probably not. If they both run for POTUS, they’re going to run against each other. Then one of them will drop out. Maybe they both will, which of course makes this whole notion a moot point.

But suppose Biden’s support among rank-and-file Democratic voters holds up and he secures the nomination next year in Milwaukee. I could see him declare that he would serve just one term and then he could select someone such as Beto as his running mate.

Biden would be the candidate who could clear out the Trump wreckage. Beto would be the candidate of the future who could carry Biden’s message past the president’s single term.

This is not a prediction. It’s merely a scenario that has played out before. Granted, Ronald Reagan didn’t get the GOP nomination in 1976. He laid the groundwork, though, for his 1980 campaign and subsequent landslide victory over President Carter.

I believe that if Biden runs, this will be it. If so, then he could have a ready-made successor waiting in the wings.

This judge set the bar quite high for others to clear

I do not believe it is an overstatement to declare that the Texas Panhandle legal community has lost a legendary figure.

Senior U.S. District Judge Mary Lou Robinson was that rare individual whom others aspired to emulate. She died this past weekend at the age of 92. To say she will be “missed” is to say that the Super Bowl is “just another football game.”

During my nearly 18 years as editorial page editor of the Amarillo Globe-News, I was privileged to interview dozens of candidates for state and county judgeships. Most of them were serious about seeking the job and in serving their community and state. Almost to a person they would include a laudatory statement about Judge Robinson. They would say that this veteran jurist set the standard for judicial excellence. They intended to pattern their conduct on the bench after her.

Yes, she was revered by those within the legal community.

Judge Robinson was a pioneering individual. She was the first woman to serve on the Potter County court at law bench; she would serve on the state district court bench and then on the Seventh Court of Appeals. After that she became the first judge appointed to fill a seat in the newly created Northern U.S. Judicial District of Texas. President Carter appointed her in 1980 and she worked full time as a federal judge until only recently, when she took “senior status,” enabling her to preside over trials of her choosing.

And let us not forget her presiding over the widely covered “beef trial” involving Oprah Winfrey, who got sued by some Panhandle cattlemen over a remark she made about mad cow disease during one of her TV shows. The cattlemen wanted the trial to occur in Amarillo, perhaps thinking they could get a favorable ruling from a local judge.

Winfrey prevailed in the lawsuit.

I did not know Judge Robinson well, although we did serve in the same Rotary Club for many years. She was always gracious, even though she knew I was a member of the media. I mention that because Judge Robinson rarely conducted interviews; I always had the sense that she was mildly uncomfortable with those of us who reported on and commented on issues of the day.

I want to share one more quick story. The Globe-News welcomed a young reporter some years ago who I believe was assigned to cover the courts. He wanted to meet Judge Robinson, who he knew only by reputation; he asked me if I could arrange the meeting. I approached the judge at a Rotary Club meeting and asked her if she would be willing to meet this young man. She agreed.

They met in her office in downtown Amarillo and, according to my colleague, she could not have been warmer, more welcoming and gracious. I recall him telling me she wanted to talk mostly “about her grandchildren” and showed off pictures of her family.

The jurists who will continue to seek to emulate this judicial icon could not have chosen a better model.

Former POTUSes deny supporting The Wall

There he goes again: lying when he simply could remain silent, let alone tell the truth.

Donald Trump has said that every living former president supports his desire to build The Wall along our border with Mexico.

Oops! Except that they don’t.

Three of the four former presidents have declared that Trump hasn’t discussed the issue with him. Jimmy Carter has just joined Bill Clinton and George W. Bush in denying that they support building The Wall; Barack Obama has been quiet on this particular matter, but his views on The Wall already are well known.

“I have not discussed the border wall with President Trump, and do not support him on the issue,” President Carter said in a statement issued by the Carter Center in Atlanta.

So, I’ll ask the question once again: Why in the name of truth-telling does Donald Trump insist on tossing out these gratuitous lies?

Good grief! The guy can just keep his trap shut. He could simply that “others” support his goofy notion. But oh, no! He’s got to say that the former presidents of the United States have joined him in this idiocy. Except that all of them are of sound mind and are able to speak for themselves, and what do you know . . . they have disputed categorically what Trump has declared.

This is what I mean when I suggest that Donald Trump is so very indelicate and imprudent in his lying. He is a bad liar. He cannot control his impulse to lie when he doesn’t need to lie.

His lawyers all have questioned whether he should agree to talk to special counsel Robert Mueller about “The Russia Thing,” fearing that he could get caught in a “perjury trap.”

The president’s lying about the ex-presidents’ alleged “support” for The Wall now seems to affirm his counsels’ fear about the president committing perjury.

Get ready for the thundering herd . . . of candidates

Lawrence O’Donnell, a noted MSNBC commentator, believes the upcoming campaign for the 2020 Democratic Party presidential nomination is going to be a very crowded affair.

He believes the number of candidates will “start with the number two,” meaning that he expects more than 20 politicians to seek the nomination in hopes of running against Donald J. Trump.

On almost any level, this is an astounding story if it develops as O’Donnell believes it will. We might have an incumbent seeking re-election. Incumbency is supposed to build in a lot of advantages: platform, visibility, name ID, the perks of power.

Incumbent presidents often seek re-election miles ahead of any challenger.

Not this time. Not this president.

In 2016, we had 17 Republicans declare for their party’s nomination at the start of the primary season. Trump knocked them one by one over the course of the GOP primary campaign. He won the nomination on the first ballot and then, well, the rest is history. Meanwhile, Democrats fielded four candidates at the start of their season. Hillary Rodham Clinton emerged as the nominee. Again, you know it turned out for her.

That number seemed high at the time, although we had no incumbent running in 2016. President Obama had to bow out, according to the 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The expected massive field of Democrats well might not even be the biggest story of the 2020 campaign. I am wondering — although not predicting — whether the president is going to receive a primary challenge from, oh, as many as two or three Republicans. Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee might be in the mix. Same for Ohio Gov. John Kasich — my favorite Republican from the 2016 campaign. Then there might be Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona.

History shows that incumbents who receive primary challenges often do not fare well when the smoke clears and they have to run against the other party’s nominee in the fall. Just consider what happened to President Gerald Ford, President Jimmy Carter and President George H.W. Bush when they ran and lost in 1976, 1980 and 1992 respectively.

So, the new year begins with two Democrats already getting set to launch their campaigns. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro are planning to form exploratory committees as precursors to their candidacies. There will be many more to come.

Oh, and then we have the Robert Mueller investigation and whether his final report might inflict more political damage to an already wounded incumbent.

I am so looking forward to this new year.