Honestly, I don’t know. My understanding is that President Carter did an ok job while in office and has since done lots of humanitarian work (Habitat for Humanity is huge and excellent). I don’t exactly have the man’s life history memorized by heart, but he’s been talking like a certified crazy person lately. On Hardball, Chris Matthews asked President Carter for parallels between the war in Iraq and the Revolutionary War. The response:
CARTER: Well, one parallel is that the Revolutionary War, more than any other war up until recently, has been the most bloody war we’ve fought. I think another parallel is that in some ways the Revolutionary War could have been avoided. It was an unnecessary war.
Carter goes on to say that, like Canada and Australia, we could have eventually gained independence through peaceful means. As someone with a limited understanding of history, there are two aspects of President Carter’s response that make me wonder if maybe someone should change the dosage on his medication.
First, Carter says the Revolutionary War parallels the Iraq war in that it “has been the most bloody war we’ve fought.” Does he remember the Civil War, or World War II, or World War I, or Vietnam, or Korea? If Iraq is one of the bloodiest wars in America’s history, what would Jimmy consider a less-bloody war? Yes Mr. Carter, we understand that war is bad. No Mr. Carter, we are not on the train when you say Iraq is a violent war relative to the other conflicts in the nation’s history. That is obviously untrue, and not an assertion you’d expect a sane person to make.
Second, Carter says that the Revolutionary War was unnecessary. Really? I’m not sure if we’d asked a little nicer or a few more times Britain would have said, “Well sure, I guess we’ve got enough continents already anyway.” But the way the former President talks, it sounds like we should have just waited for independence until Britain got tired of us. America should have politely been an overseas British suburb for another twenty, or fifty, or 100 years.
Chris Matthews asked his question in such a way that it would have been easy to support or dispute potential parallels between American soldiers in Iraq currently and British soldiers in America during the Revolutionary War. Instead, President Carter felt it necessary to take two broad strokes and paint a dismal picture of the Iraq war. His first is downright false on the Iraq end. His second is defensible on the Iraq end, and completely bizarre on the Revolutionary War end.
I don’t question the good things Jimmy Carter has done for America and the world. His philanthropic contributions are generous and should be respected. But if he can’t answer a simple question without spouting random craziness, maybe he should take a step back from the microphone. Granted, the same thing could be said about a number of ‘political analysts,’ but President Carter has a continuing obligation to live and speak responsibly, and he’s currently failing to keep it.