Way to Go, James Earl!
October 22, 2002
Kevin Dawson

The Republican right wing, who never stops characterizing Al Gore as an ungracious loser still pouting over the 2000 election (he's not the only one), cannot manage so much as "Congratulations" to disco-era president Jimmy Carter for the Nobel Prize he was awarded. In fact, many have demanded that Mr. Carter give the prize back, even to the point of making racist cracks about the Nobel Committee! Have a Billy Beer and calm down!

Reaganites have yet to figure out how to credit the 1978 Mideast peace accord to their hero, to whom they credit everything else (except where Iraq got its nuclear wherewithal in the first place) from the discovering of America to ending the Cold War (which, let's face it, merely fizzled away on its own and R.R. was in the right place at the right time, a la GWB on 9/11/01). Perhaps they could claim that Mssrs. Begin and Sadat had been forewarned, "You boys better work things out with the peanut farmer, or else in two years you'll be dealt with by Big Daddy!"

Okay, so the late seventies were dreary. Is that any reason to begrudge a man his Nobel? People were tired; the previous fifteen years had been feverish. And Jimmy Carter was, to the public, a nice man you didn't have to think too much about. It was certainly a nicer time. Charlton Heston was still making movies instead of trouble. Indeed, the closest things to weapons I remember my fellow high school classmates bringing to school were those odd-shaped combs (usually lodged in the back pocket of one's designer jeans) for raking their odd-shaped hair during a dull class. (Today, we're told by the NRA-backed boys in charge that if we all had guns we'd all be safe from sniper attacks. So why are the NRA-backed boys in charge itching to go to war with other countries simply for having weapons?)

True, Mr. Carter got much flak for "bungling" the rescue of the hostages in Iran. (He also took full responsibility, unlike our current crop of politicians who when they screw up say "Yeah, but Clinton...") At the time there was none of this "Mustn't criticize the president, we're at war" stuff which we hear so much of today. In fact, the consensus of opinion seems to be that Carter has proven to be a more effective ex-president than a president (Bush pere, on the other hand, rests on his laurels despite the fact that, as it turns out, Desert Storm didn't tame Hussein after all). Shouldn't that be to his credit?

Amy Carter, you'll recall (or not if you're under 30), got her share of cracks, as have all presidential daughters since Alice Roosevelt. Only now have we been told to lay off the Bush girls. Come on - I bet Sean Hannity laughed when Rush Limbaugh called Chelsea Clinton "the White House dog." And imagine the uproar if C.C. had ever so much as jaywalked. (If Gore had become president in 2000, you have to know that the twins would be on the perpetual pan.)

Jimmy Carter has criticized the war effort, unlike his fellow Christians who want the Ten Commandments posted on every public building yet can't wait to break "Thou Shalt Not Kill." "But we were attacked!" we're reminded. "How many times must I forgive my brother," Jesus was asked, "seven?" Jesus replied, "No, I say seventy times seven" (which, if you're good at arithmetic, makes 490). Remember, now, that George We're-at-War Bush once cited Jesus as his personal philosopher. Carter lives his beliefs and otherwise shuts up about them. Good for him. (Of course Bush has no cause to forgive his brother - who got him into the White House, after all; just help him with his "devious plans.")

Despite the right-wing dwelling on the "slap in the face" to President Parvenu (everything about GWB always has to be in terms of somebody else), James Earl Carter, for his considerable humanitarian efforts, is well deserving of a prize called Peace. Good Southerner that he is, he echoes Scarlett's disdainful "War, war, war. Fiddle-dee-dee!"

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: A number of letter-to-the-editor writers want to know: "What's the matter, are you Bush-bashers afraid of finding out what a great leader he really is?" Which is like accusing people who avoid Pauly Shore movies of doing so for fear of discovering that Mr. Shore is the greatest comic genius since Chaplin.

Kevin Dawson, who discovered Democratic Underground relatively recently, is responsible for the web site http://insomniacs.bizland.com, which plugs a book of his.