Tag Archives: Jimmy Carter

Happy birthday, Mr. President

(AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

Jimmy Carter turned 98 years of age the other day and I missed offering the good man a happy day … not that it really mattered to the nation’s 39th president.

I want to spend a moment or two, though, extolling the virtues of his presidency. It has become all too common over many years to look fondly on the post-presidential years of Carter’s life while dismissing the accomplishments he achieved during his single term in office.

You never will read anything on this blog that vilifies President Carter’s term. Indeed, I happen to believe the longest-living former president deserves far more credit than he has gotten — so far — from historians assessing his presidency.

I want to start with the monumental peace agreement he forged between Israel and Egypt in those arduous Camp David Accords. He persuaded the late Egyptian President Anwar Sadat to sit down with the late Israelis Prime Minister Menachem Begin to hammer out a permanent peace agreement.

The men shook hands at the White House. The image of Sadat shaking hands with Begin likely was to blame for Sadat’s assassination in 1981.

Carter negotiated the turning over of the Panama Canal to the Panamanians. He led a worldwide protest against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, resulting in a boycott of the 1980 Olympics in Moscow.

OK, he suffered mightily when the Iranian terrorists captured our embassy in Tehran and held our hostages captive for 444 days. However, I want to point out that Carter’s team did negotiate their release, albeit occurring on the day Ronald Reagan took office as president.

Furthermore, I refuse to suggest that Jimmy Carter’s presidency was a failed endeavor. The man did experience success while serving this nation. He took his commitment to public service with him when he exited the White House in 1981. Jimmy Carter’s involvement building houses with Habitat for Humanity has become almost legendary as historians assess this good man’s post-presidential life.

He has been a champion for human rights, for electoral integrity. I admire him greatly.

President Carter has dedicated his life to his bride for the 75 years of their marriage, to his devotion to his faith and to his commitment to serving others. I want to salute him as he marks his 98th year on this good Earth.


Carter walks the walk … of faith

This social media meme showed up today and it serves as a reminder of how great men and women can — and do — become models for others to emulate.

President Jimmy Carter, as near as I can recall, never has felt the need to bellow or bluster about his Christian faith. He merely practices it every waking minute of every day.

If only others in public life could or would follow the standard that Jimmy Carter has set. He has built houses for poor people; he has taught Sunday school classes at his hometown church in Plains, Ga. He lives a quiet life with his wife of 75-plus years, Rosalynn.

I just saw this today and want to offer a salute and tribute to the 39th president of the United States. President Carter’s quiet example of living a life of faith in God should inspire all of us.

Thank you, Mr. President, for your service to the country and for your service to all of humankind.


What happened to Meghan?

Hey, I swear I remember Meghan McCain — the former “The View” co-host who’s taken on a new gig as a columnist for a British newspaper — saying how she “loves” President Biden and would be hard-pressed to say anything negative about him.

Now she writes in The Daily Mail that Joe Biden is on track to be a “worse” president than Jimmy Carter.

Whoa, Meghan McCain! Hold the phone!

MEGHAN McCAIN: Joe Biden is shaping up to be a worse president than Jimmy Carter  | Daily Mail Online

McCain is the daughter, let’s recall, of the late U.S. Sen. John McCain, one of Joe Biden’s best friends in the Senate. McCain was a Republican; Biden is a Democrat. Their friendship was forged shortly after McCain joined a Senate staff as a military adviser to a committee on which Biden served.

Now the young woman who said she “loves” the president has turned on him, calling him feckless, unreliable and cantankerous.

Look, she’s entitled to change her mind about politicians, even those who hold occupy a special place in her heart. I am just waiting, though, for an explanation from Meghan McCain on the dramatic change in her feelings toward the president of the United States.

As for President Biden being “worse” than President Carter, I need to remind McCain that Jimmy Carter did manage to negotiate a peace deal between Israel and Egypt … which has held firm and solid through thick and thin.

So, let’s stop with the Carter-bashing. Hmmm?


Biden honors Carter

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

President Biden ventured today to Georgia to do two things.

He sought to tout the accomplishments of his first 100 days in office. Biden also paid a visit to one of his first political heroes, Jimmy Carter, the nation’s 39th president.

President and Mrs. Biden visited former President and Mrs. Carter at their home in Plains, Ga.

He said something, though, that I want to echo. “He showed us throughout his entire life what it means to be a public servant,” Biden said of Carter.

President Carter is 96 years of age now. His health keeps him home most of the time. He and his wife of 70-plus years, Rosalynn, have dedicated their lives to advancing the work of the Carter Center in Atlanta and, of course, in the former president’s efforts to build homes for Americans in need for Habitat for Humanity.

Biden was a young U.S. senator in 1976 when he endorsed the former Georgia governor’s bid for the presidency. That endorsement forged a friendship that has lasted all these decades.

At so many levels, President Carter has shown us how to serve others. The former president doesn’t appear intent on forging his own historical niche, but his commitment to serving others is worthy of high honor.

Are we better off? Umm, no!

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Ronald Reagan once asked famously during a 1980 presidential debate with President Carter whether the nation was “better off than we were four years ago.”

The question seared the audience that heard him ask it. Voters responded on Election Day 1980 with a stunning verdict: The answer was “no,” and they delivered a landslide victory to Reagan.

Rahm Emanuel, a former Chicago mayor and an acknowledged Democratic partisan, asked  that question today in terms of Donald Trump’s tenure as president. The answer, according to Emanuel, is an equally resounding “no.”

Therein lies the reason why Trump lost his bid for a second term, just as President Carter lost his own second-term run 40 years ago. The nation is fundamentally worse off today than we were when Trump took office.

Trump has presided over a horrendous coarsening of our national debate; he has inflicted heavy damage on our international alliances; Trump has governed by chaos and tossed continuity into the crapper; the POTUS has made full-throated lying an acceptable form of communication … and we have the pandemic.

I will not blame Trump for the virus that has killed more than 300,000 Americans. I do blame him fully for the shabby, shoddy and shameful response he has orchestrated. He lied to us about its severity from the get-go; he has contradicted the advice of his medical experts; Trump has put Americans at grave risk of death as a result.

The pandemic is an existential threat to our national security and Donald Trump has failed to remain faithful to the oath he took when he became president.

Have there been successes along the way? Sure. Israel’s relationships in the Middle East with neighboring Arab nations gives us hope for a more lasting peace in that region; prior to the pandemic’s arrival a year ago, our economy was experiencing significant growth. I will not short-sell those positive outcomes.

The pandemic and all the other failures, though, have left us worse off today than we were when Donald Trump took office and delivered an inaugural address that produced precisely one memorable moment: that “the American carnage” would come to an immediate end. Well, guess what. It hasn’t ended.

President-elect Biden has a monumental task awaiting him when he takes office in 31 days. Just as Americans spoke decisively 40 years when we elected President Reagan — who posed what has become the threshold question for all politicians — we have spoken yet again in electing President Biden.

Who’s the man of faith?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I am sharing two pictures that showed up on my Facebook page today. They depict two presidents of the United States.

You know who they are.

The guy in the first picture is revered by the evangelical Christian movement. They like Donald Trump’s court appointments. They like his so-called “conservative” values he mouths when he hears them touted by right-wing radio and TV talking heads. The evangelicals give him a pass for the flings about which he has boasted, such as with the young woman pictured with him. Hey, no problem, they say. He’s one of us! Good grief!

The other president served a single term from 1977 to 1981. He teaches a Sunday school class at his church in Plains, Ga. Jimmy Carter also builds houses for poor folks as part of Habitat for Humanity.

The evangelical Christian movement sought actively in the 1980 campaign to deny him a second term as president. They preferred another fellow, Ronald Reagan, whose own commitment to matters of faith had been questioned as well, as he rarely darkened the doors of churches.

Jimmy Carter is the real deal. He just turned 96 years of age. He has battled cancer and has been the target of pundits who claim unfairly that he was a “failed president.”

I do not consider myself an “evangelical,” although I do profess my faith openly and joyfully. Still, I am left to wonder about the priorities of those who stand with a lying, conniving philanderer and who scorn a man who practices the faith in which he is committed deeply.

Would he dare skip the inaugural?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Given that Donald Trump has exhibited a seemingly bottomless pit of boorishness, I cannot get the following thought out of my mind.

Just suppose Joe Biden is elected the nation’s 46th president. Is it possible that the 45th president would skip the inaugural in a demonstration of maximum pique and petulance?

Trump keeps yammering about a “rigged election” in the event of a Biden victory. I cannot stop thinking about whether he truly believes it and whether he would be act on that belief by not showing up for the ceremonial transfer of power from one president to the next.

I mean, the Constitution doesn’t require the outgoing president to sit there and listen to the new one offer a grand vision of what he intends to do.

Moreover, it wouldn’t be an unprecedented act. President John Quincy Adams didn’t attend the inaugural for the man who beat him, President Andrew Jackson. But geez, that was in 1829! It was a bitter campaign and I guess Adams never got over the mean things Jackson said about him.

Other campaigns have produced plenty of bitterness. I recall the 1977 inaugural of President Carter, who in his opening remarks to the crowd, thanked President Ford for all he had done to “heal our land” after Watergate. That was a tough race, too. The men became fast friends for the remainder of President Ford’s life.

Donald Trump, though, harbors the deepest, meanest, most authentic sense of personal animus of anyone I’ve ever witnessed.

I will not predict such a thing from occurring, but merely am saying that should Joe Biden become President Biden, I wouldn’t be surprised to witness the ceremony occurring without Donald Trump anywhere to be seen … or (thankfully) heard.

Trump’s lying becomes legendary

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Jimmy Carter once made a pledge while campaigning for the presidency in 1976 that he would “never lie” to us were he elected to the office.

I am not prepared at this moment to document whether President Carter actually kept his promise. Carter served for four years and faced more than a few national crises during his term in office, so he well might have fudged the truth a time or two to protect a national secret.

Flashing forward to the present day, we are left now to ponder the incessant, relentless, gratuitous lying that has come from the mouth of Donald J. “Liar in Chief” Trump. In an astonishing sense, though, Trump’s lying has become so pervasive, so commonplace that Americans have become damn near numbed to the lies.

Americans say they care about whether the president tells them the truth, but when he doesn’t — which is a daily occurrence — there is so little public outrage expressed.

My goodness. Is this part of the new normal of American presidential politics?

I do not expect Joe Biden to make a pledge similar to what Jimmy Carter promised more than four decades ago. I do expect him at least to speak truthfully — presuming he gets elected president in November — when the national interest demands he tell us the truth.

A “truth-telling Donald Trump” has become an oxymoron. This man’s lying knows no bounds. Nothing is off limits from this individual’s prevarication. His lying has become the stuff of legend.

He is an utterly and categorically dangerous man. If only Americans would call him out when they hear him lie to our face.

Whatever happened to the Republican Party?

Oh, yoo-hoo! Are you out there, somewhere, Republican Party members, folks who once stood for principles that appear to have been vanquished and trampled asunder in this Age of Donald John Trump?

I have been looking for those folks for some time. To no avail, I am afraid to admit. You remember how those good folks. If not, I’ll offer a reminder.

I think of the Republicans of 1980 and those of 1994. They presented candidates and platforms that represented a specific ideology and point of view.

The Grand Old Party in 1980 was led by a former B-movie actor-turned California governor, Ronald “The Gipper” Reagan. Gov. Reagan became the Republican nominee that year. He and his party then proceeded to savage President Jimmy Carter because he had the temerity to stand watch while the federal budget ran a deficit of $43 billion in that election year.

Fort-three billion bucks, man! Why, you’d have thought the nation was heading for bankruptcy to hear the Republicans tell it.

Fast-forward 40 years and the budget deficit this year is going to top $1 trillion. Yes, a Republican is now president of the United States. Where is the outcry? Where are the calls for fiscal restraint?

The sound of crickets you are hearing is the sound of a political party that has tossed aside the principle of fiscal efficiency because its members have become beholden to the man who leads the party, the man who before he ran for president had no discernible connection to the party under whose banner he ran for the only public office he ever has sought.

Amazing, yes? I believe so.

Then the GOP of 1994 came and went. These were the politicians who campaigned for Congress on the Character Matters mantra. The object of their scorn in that election year was a Democratic president who had been elected two years earlier despite allegations of womanizing. Bill Clinton won the 1992 election and then two years later, the GOP — led by a House backbench flamethrower named Newt Gingrich — set about campaigning on the Character Matters platform.

Republicans won control of both congressional houses that year, then sought the impeachment of President Clinton, ostensibly after seeking the goods on a scandal called Whitewater, a real estate deal that caught the GOP’s attention. The probe ended up producing a tawdry relationship between the president and a White House intern. Clinton took an oath to tell the truth to a grand jury, then he lied to jurors. Perjury! Clinton broke the law! Then he got impeached. He stood trial and was acquitted in early 1999.

Well, that version of the Republican Party has vanished, too. Gingrich became speaker of the House after the 1994 congressional takeover, then the GOP lost seats in Congress in the 1998 midterm election, all while Gingrich was being revealed as a philanderer … even as he was bemoaning the president’s crappy conduct.

It’s gotten worse. The GOP these days rallies behind a president who makes all of that seem like schoolyard frolic.

So, I have to ask: What in the world has become of a once-great political party?

A man of deep faith is ‘at peace’ with death

Jimmy Carter’s abiding faith in God is well-known and has been chronicled extensively since the moment he burst onto the national political scene more than four decades ago.

So, when he tells a Sunday school audience that he is “at peace” with the prospect of death, should the rest of us be surprised? Of course not! Those are the words of a man committed to his deep Christian faith.

Christianity tells us that faith and belief in Jesus’s teaching and his existence as the son of God means we pass from worldly life to eternal life. That has been President Carter’s credo. It has sustained him through an amazing life of service to his country and then, through his faith, to his fellow humans.

This former president has set at least three remarkable records.

  • President Carter is the oldest living man who has held the nation’s highest office.
  • He has lived longer in his post-presidency than any other former president.
  • Oh, and his marriage of 73 years to his beloved Rosalynn is the longest presidential marriage in U.S. history.

Jimmy Carter, the nation’s 39th president, has lived an exemplary life. He has committed himself to others, choosing to forgo a life of personal enrichment.

It is totally in keeping with this man’s good life that he would be “at peace” with knowing that his time on Earth will end.

You may count me as one American who wants him to remain among us for as long as is humanly possible.

Thank you, Mr. President, for your glorious service to the nation — and to the world.