Tag Archives: Jimmy Carter

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.

Carter earns even higher praise just by showing up

Jimmy Carter just turned 95 years young.

Then he fell at home. He is wearing a doozy of a shiner under his left eye. He took some stitches to repair cuts he suffered when he took the spill.

So what does the former president of the United States do? Does he sit at home and mope because he had a clumsy spell? Does he sulk and pout?

Oh, no. He travels to Tennessee. He picks up a hammer, some nails, a power drill — and builds houses for folks who need help from those with generous souls and spirits … such as President Carter. Habitat for Humanity has been one of the former president’s passions since he left office in January 1981.

My goodness. This man has become my hero.

God bless you, Mr. President.

Happy birthday, Mr. President

James Earl Carter is a force of nature.

He builds houses for poor people; he writes books; he lectures Americans on the value of ethics in politics; he teaches Sunday school at his rural Georgia church; he has monitored elections around the world; he lives modestly with his wife of more than seven decades.

Today he becomes the oldest former president of the United States. He already holds the record for living the longest past the time he left office; he exited the White House in 1981, which means he has lived 38 years past his presidency.

President Carter turns 95.

He has beaten cancer. He ran for president more than four decades ago, defeating a crowded field of Democratic Party primary foes. He ran a tough and bitter race against an embattled incumbent, Gerald R. Ford, and won with 297 electoral votes, which reflected his narrow popular vote majority; he and President Ford would then forge a friendship that lasted until Ford’s death in 2006.

President Carter lost his bid for re-election in a landslide to Ronald Reagan in 1980, but he didn’t skulk off to pout over his loss. Instead he poured his energy into building the Carter Center in Atlanta and then building houses for Habitat for Humanity, a faith-based organization that does the Lord’s work around the world.

I will not engage in a debate over whether he was a successful president. I will say that he has been the most consequential former president in the past century, or maybe even longer than that.

President Carter is getting lots of good wishes from around the country and the world today. This good and godly man deserves all of them.

Happy birthday, Mr. President.

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!