Former President Jimmy Carter pulled no punches in a recent interview with The New York Times, and his somewhat surprising critique of certain left-leaning politicians has his usually laudatory supporters unnerved.
By S.T. Patrick
Once hailed as a great president and an even greater ex-president by the political and historical left, Jimmy Carter has now unnerved his loyal followers by declaring in an Oct. 21 New York Times interview that the Russians didn’t steal the 2016 election for President Donald Trump, that Barack Obama woefully underperformed in his two-term presidency, that he and wife Rosalynn didn’t vote for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the primaries, that the media has been harder on Trump than any other president, and that NFL players should stand for the national anthem.
The headline assigned by the Times was that Carter “lusts” to go to North Korea as a special envoy for the Trump administration. Following this narrative would be par for the modern journalistic course that largely favors a view of Carter as the “Great Peacemaker” as much as President Ronald Reagan was the “Great Communicator.”
When asked if the Russians purloined the 2016 election from Clinton, Carter answered that he “[doesn’t] think there’s any evidence that what the Russians did changed enough votes, or any votes.” The Carter Center, which the former president founded in 1982, has a positive working relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The discussion of the Clinton loss prompted the Carters to reveal that they did not vote for Mrs. Clinton in the party primaries.
“We voted for Bernie (Sanders),” the former president noted. When the Times asked Carter to compare the Clinton Foundation with the Carter Center, he firmly replied, “Rosie and I put money in the Carter Center. We never take money out.”
Asked to assess the “hope and change” that was to characterize the Obama legacy, Carter seemed unimpressed, especially on issues in the Middle East.
“He made some very wonderful statements, in my opinion, when he first got in office,” Carter said, “and then he reneged on that.” He noted specifically that Obama refused to dialogue with North Korea and took part in the bombing of Yemen, which Carter referred to as the most interesting place he has ever been.
A recent Harvard University study showed that 93% of the media coverage regarding Trump has been negative. Carter didn’t disagree.
“I think the media have been harder on Trump than any other president certainly that I’ve known about,” Carter said. “I think they feel free to claim that Trump is mentally deranged and everything else without hesitation.”
The Carters still reside in Plains, Ga., 150 miles from Atlanta, home of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons. While a vast majority of the left are backing the decision of many NFL players not to stand during the national anthem, Carter believes differently.
“I think they ought to find a different way to object, to demonstrate,” he said. “I would rather see all the players stand during the American anthem.”
As evidenced by his appearance at a recent hurricane relief fundraiser, Carter still chooses to place his hand over his heart during the anthem. It is not overly surprising that Carter would accept a Trump posting as special envoy to North Korea. The Carter Center believes in talking to dictators as a means by which peace can be waged.
Carter believes he was successful when he flew to Pyongyang in 1994 and struck a deal with Kim Il-sung, the grandfather of current leader Kim Jong-un. Despite President Bill Clinton’s public objections to Carter’s unilateral diplomacy, some historians believe that Clinton privately accepted, encouraged, and guided Carter’s negotiations with Kim Il-sung.
Carter questions the level of Chinese influence over the current North Korean regime.
“(W)e greatly overestimate China’s influence on North Korea, particularly to Kim Jong-un,” Carter said. “He’s never, so far as I know, been to China. And they have no relationship. Kim Jong-il did go to China and was very close to them.”
Carter relayed his availability through National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, who asked to sit next to the former president at the funeral of globalist Zbigniew Brzezinski.
“I told him I was available if they ever need me,” Carter said.
Surprising to some, Carter also seemed optimistic that Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner could make progress in Saudi Arabia. Trump pointed to the family ties as a potential benefit to progress.
“I’ve seen in the Arab world, including the Palestinian world,” he said, “the high esteem that they pay to a member of one’s own family.”
Carter and Trump do have a history, as outlined in Trump’s 1987 book The Art of the Deal. Carter visited Trump to ask for $5 million to help build his presidential library. Trump turned him down.
It is not unusual for former presidents to take a giant leap for political independence as they age. Harry Truman questioned his own decision to form the Central Intelligence Agency. Richard Nixon wrote a series of foreign policy books not tied to the strategies of either mainstream party. The Bushes have often worked with the Clintons, even forming a joint foundation.
Carter’s newfound support for the Trump administration, as well as his anti-Clinton rhetoric, is sure to send a measurable level of shock-and-awe through Democratic National Committee offices busily strategizing every county for 2020. Yet it has made Carter interesting in such a way that there is now widespread speculation over what his next move will be.
S.T. Patrick holds degrees in both journalism and social studies education. He spent ten years as an educator and now hosts the “Midnight Writer” News Show. His email is [email protected].