Not content to be regarded as one of the worst presidents in U.S. history, Jimmy Carter now seems determined to become the worst ex-president in U.S. history. While Bill Clinton, the only other living Democratic president, has largely refrained from attacking his Republican successor’s foreign policy, Jimmy Carter has made it his business to lambaste President Bush. (Indeed, some of Mr. Clinton’s recent statements have shown support for Mr. Bush’s policies, even for the liberation of Iraq.)
Now this failed former chief executive is at it again calling on the United States to close down the Guantanamo Bay prison. To be sure, Mr. Carter did fault Amnesty International for calling the prison “the gulag of our time,” but by publicly asking his nation to shut down the prison, he only helps reinforce the false impression that American officials have committed gross violations of human rights there.
To be sure, allegations have been raised about inappropriate conduct by guards and investigators, but those charges have been investigated and when substantiated, the guards (and investigators) responsible have been disciplined or dismissed. The military has adopted new policies to prevent such violations from recurring.
Mr. Carter’s call, however, suggests that our government has not taken action against the allegations. Not only that. By addressing this issue in a public forum, he helps those who wish to exaggerate the severity of those allegations. If Mr. Carter were truly concerned with what was going on there, he could contact the White House privately and work behind the scenes to effect change. Unlike most Americans, former presidents have means to communicate directly with the incumbent and his closest advisors.
Lorie Byrd, whose post on Polipundit, alerted me to Mr. Carter’s latest public attack on the Administration, sees his continued bellyaching as “Twenty-five Years of Sour Grapes.” She believes still harbors resentment over his landslide loss to Ronald Reagan in 1980. (Contrast that with the president’s father who has become friendly with Bill Clinton who soundly defeated him in 1992.)
While former President Nixon traveled widely in the 1980s and spoke frequently on foreign policy issues, he refrained from criticizing the policies of his successors in public fora. Mr. Carter should show the same respect for his nation and its elected chief executive, the same statesmanlike qualities. Yes, he owes it to his nation to speak honestly. But, he should always bear in mind the prominent position a former president enjoys, realizing how his words could tarnish our great nation’s image abroad.
If Mr. Carter loves his country more than he resents his Republican successors, he would temper his criticism and show greater respect for the office he once held. He should refuse to join foreign and media critics eager to cast the current administration’s policies in the worst possible light.
-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com