Tag Archives: Jimmy Carter

Give this man his due … and some grace

He became the butt of jokes and misdirected criticism back in the day … not so much now that the man you see in this picture is so frail and is grieving the loss of his wife of more than 70 years.

You know him as James Earl Carter, the nation’s 39th president. He served one term in the White House before losing to Ronald Reagan in 1980. Republicans running for POTUS too often paint President Carter’s term as a failure. It wasn’t. His term, though, was damaged grievously by inflationary pressure and by the capture and prolonged imprisonment of those 55 American hostages held by Islamic militants in Iran.

Let’s understand something about this good man. He lived his deep Christian faith. He didn’t just talk about it or pose in awkward and phony photo ops to call attention to it. He rolled up his sleeves and went to work with his wife in building homes for those who needed one.

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter helped make Habitat for Humanity a household word.

Beyond that, though, President Carter taught us to live life to its fullest and to avoid taking credit for the good work he does. One does not hear this man boast about the work he has done, or how he spreads the teachings of Jesus Christ, to whom he is deeply faithful.

I have seen this social media meme proclaiming that “this is how a true Christian” demonstrates his faith. It shows Jimmy Carter working to build a home and it makes a direct comparison to the phony brand of faith preached by the likes of Republican former POTUS Donald Trump.

The meme is meant to illustrate how this topsy-turvy world has been turned on its ear with political operatives hijacking Americans’ deep religious faith and perverting it for political purposes.

It is utterly anathema to the life that President Jimmy Carter continues to live.

Christie gives up ‘favorite’ status

Chris Christie nearly had me … then he nearly lost me.

I was prepared to anoint the former New Jersey governor as my favorite Republican running for president in 2024. Then he popped off with a statement on TV this weekend in which he declared Joe Biden to be the “most incompetent president since Jimmy Carter.”

Ouch, man!

OK, let me try to clear a couple of things up. First, President Carter was far from an incompetent chief executive. He scored a couple of huge foreign-policy triumphs, starting with the Israel-Egypt peace treaty as well as turning over the Panama Canal to the Panamanians. Carter has gotten a bum rap for the past 40-plus years and I am one American who is sick of it.

Second, I am still trying to determine where in the world these GOP pretenders keep seeing “incompetence” on the part of President Biden.

Joe Biden has managed, while facing the MAGA-led caucus in Congress, to do a number of memorable deeds. With the help of Democrats, we have an infrastructure improvement bill enacted; Biden passed the Inflation Reduction Act that saves jobs and cuts the deficit by billions of bucks; we have policies aimed directly at battling climate change; the president and the GOP speaker of the House cobbled together a package that takes the debt ceiling non-crisis off the table for two years; the jobless rate has dropped to historic lows.

On Biden’s watch, we are adding hundreds of thousands of jobs each month; we are aiding Ukraine in its war against naked aggression by Russia; our European alliances are stronger than ever.

To be clear, Biden’s term hasn’t been perfect. I have never said it has been.

Chris Christie is repeating the MAGA mantra about presidential incompetence because it plays well with the slobbering GOP base that buys into issues such as The Big Lie and goofy QAnon conspiracies.

I will give Christie credit for taking on directly the immense personal and political failures of the 45th POTUS. It doesn’t give him license, though, to repeat the lies about POTUS No. 46, Joseph R. Biden Jr.

C’mon, Gov. Christie. If you expect many of us to take you seriously, you need to stick with the facts. Here is one fact worth remembering: Joe Biden has gotten more done in the first half of a term than any president in history.


Jimmy Carter: a wonderful life

Tributes have been pouring in to President Jimmy Carter’s home in Plains, Ga., after the announcement that he is entering hospice care.

I am fully aware of what that likely means, but I want to offer this brief tribute to a man who’s led perhaps the most extraordinary life imaginable. Furthermore, I will not presume he is headed for the Great Beyond … at least not just yet.

He has beaten cancer already. You’ll recall when he seemed to offer a heartfelt goodbye to this world when he announced he had the killer disease. Then he beat it into remission. That was in 2015.

Jimmy Carter did not, contrary to what many have said about him since his landslide loss in 1980, serve a “failed presidency.” It was nothing of the sort. He forged a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt; he negotiated the transfer of the Panama Canal to the country it splits in two; and, yes, he got our hostages out of Iran safely, albeit on the day Ronald Reagan took the presidential oath of office in 1981.

Carter didn’t sulk after losing to Reagan.

Instead, this man of deep and abiding Christian faith formed the Carter Center in 1982, dedicating its work to the pursuit of world peace; that work earned him the Nobel Peace Prize.

And then, of course, he became involved with Habitat for Humanity, building homes for needy people around the world.

He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, served as a submariner, entered politics in Georgia and then, in 1976, announced, “My name is Jimmy Carter and I’m running for president.” He defeated President Gerald Ford that year and even after a bitter battle, the two men became the best of friends.

Jimmy Carter is a great man who has lived an astonishingly full life. More importantly, so many around him — and far beyond — have been enriched by the fullness of this man’s time on Earth.

Yes, we can speculate on what the future might hold for the nation’s 39th president. I won’t dwell at this moment on what may lie ahead. I just want to honor this good man’s character and thank him for serving his country — and the world — with honor and dignity.


Such cynical times, indeed

Oh, how we live in an era full of cynicism and spite, as a friend posted on a social media message board overnight.

My friend Rick noted that upon hearing of former President Carter’s decision to commit to hospice care one of the first thoughts that entered my friend’s mind was the tasteless, tactless and narcissistic comment that is likely to come from Donald Trump.

Yes, despite the presence of several former presidents, most of whom possess grace and class, my friend had to mention what we might expect from the Election Denier in Chief who has become damn near legendary in his penchant for saying exactly the wrong thing.

I despise this cynical age.


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.