Understanding Carter

The New Republic

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THE SPINE DECEMBER 1, 2006

Understanding Carter

Yes, I'm back to Jimmy Carter, the most self-righteous of our contemporary presidents and, if I knew more about the rest of them, perhaps also all of our presidents. My, just compare him even to Woodrow Wilson, the son of a Presbyterian minister from Virginia and governor of New Jersey, and you'll find this supercilious Southern Baptist, who was governor of Georgia and so full of amour-propre and so full of disdain for his co-religionists, that you want (or, at least, I want) to turn off the television set whenever his mouth is on it. In comparison to the peanut farmer, Wilson, the president of Princeton and professor of politics there, comes off as a very rational radical idealist, indeed.

Now, I confess that I may not be entitled to speak as surely as I do about what Carter says. Why is that? you ask. Because I can't understand his Southern accent. Plain and simple. Plains, Georgia and simple. I'm not proud of this. But, when he was president and, willy nilly, I needed to know what he said, I wished that there'd be English subtitles at the bottom of the TV screen.

In any case, he is perfectly understandable now. His wrath and rancor at Israel is self-evident. You doubt it? Here's the website of the Jim Lehrer NewsHour. An interview with the former president conducted on November 28 by Judy Woodruff is all the evidence you need. Ms. Woodruff is a sharp and relentless reporter.

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