Wednesday, September 16, 2009

541. You don't say, Mr. Carter?

The other night during his speech on healthcare, President Barack Obama used some language - well at least one word - which a lot of us were waiting for. He used the word lies. He used that word to describe some of what has been said by those across the aisle, an aisle which keeps getting wider and wider as the Republican Party keeps painting itself into a smaller and smaller place on the political spectrum.

And then, after the probably-planned outburst of Congressman Joe Wilson, a tool used for fundraising no less, the president became just another in a long line of policy wonks, settling back into the political correctness that abounds amongst the more civil side of Washington DC.

Beginning back in 1980, the first year I could cast a vote for president, the Democratic nominees for president have mostly been a series of overly intelligent rather boring policy wonks. Mr. Obama is, at his core, another in this line. Sure, he was razzling and dazzling them [me] last year, but that was campaign mode. Now he is president and is being presidential, which is to say politically correct. It is the nature of policy wonks to be so. In order since 1980 were Jimmy Carter, Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry, and Mr. Obama. And let's be honest. The only two who were elected in my voting career were only slightly less boring than the others. Bill Clinton had a southern accent and something of a swagger, which seemed to have wide appeal. Barack Obama was seen by some as almost messianic. But, at their base, all of the nominees, all uber-intelligent, all over-achievers, are also all basically boring as Hell, as is most of their ilk. That doesn't make them bad, just very smart and very boring, and sometimes boring when they should be raising some Hell.

Jimmy Carter was the Democratic nominee in 1980, the year of my first vote. He was running as the incumbent, having slipped into office on the disgruntled heels of Watergate. Naval Engineer of some sort, professional large-scale farmer of Georgia peanuts, and former governor of that state, his term in office as the 39th President did not prove successful.

Earlier today over on the Twitter, LEO writer Phillip M. Bailey, whom I follow (to use the proper Twitter-term) entered the idea of re-electing Mr. Carter as president, this in response to the former president's very correct statement that race plays a large part in many folks' oppostion to the tall skinny dude in the White House. We know that to be the case with many voters in Kentucky, and not just in southern, western, or eastern Kentucky, but also in central Kentucky amongst the well-heeled and well-educated, as well as in Jefferson County, in all regions excepting those in the West End and Newburg, where, to be honest race played a role in the other direction as candidate Obama scored about 95% of the vote in these African-American areas.

Bailey's tweet, to use another proper Twitter term, prompted me to respond that I had not supported Mr. Carter, neither in the Primary against Teddy Kennedy, nor in November, when I voted for the Independent candidate, Congressman John Anderson of Illinois. (For the record, I did that response in 140 spaces or fewer). Mr. Anderson was the first of three Illinoians I have supported for president, the other two being Paul Simon in 1988 and the current officeholder. Anderson, Simon (who is deceased), and Obama all fit the mode of boring policy wonk. Anderson, though, was a Republican running as an Independent. In that respect, he is different. Anderson, of course, did not win that race. In fact, he failed to carry one precinct anywhere in the Republic. Carter lost too. They both lost to the 43rd Best President the country has ever endured, the big-spending, big-borrowing, alleged government-hating Ronald Wilson Reagan, one of the Great Prevaricators of the 20th Century. But, I digress.

This entry is about Jimmy Carter calling a spade a spade, to use a potentially really bad analogy. Jimmy Carter suggested that Joe Wilson's probably-planned outburst of "You Lie" during the president's speech on September 9th was rooted in racism. As I do not know Mr. Wilson, I will accept his son's challenge to that thought stating that his father is not a racist. But the sentiments expressed at the Town Hall meetings during the August Congressional Recess strongly suggest that a large number of white people have a problem with the skinny black man with a funny name living in the White House. I'm sure more than a few of those with such a view are residents and voters of South Carolina's Second Congressional District, represented by Congressman Wilson. And Wilson himself admitted that the outburst was influenced by sentiments at recent Town Hall meetings.

President Carter commented in an interview with NBC News, saying, "Racism ... still exists and I think it has bubbled up to the surface because of a belief among many white people, not just in the south but around the country, that African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great country."

Joe Wilson may in fact be among those people who do not hold such a belief. But I am confident President Carter is correct. Mr. Carter has, since leaving office, gone through a Hooverisation. Like Herbert Hoover, who was a grossly unsuccessful president, Mr. Carter has rebuilt his reputation in retirement and is considered one of the great humanitarians of our day, just as Mr. Hoover did in the mid-20th Century.

My real problem today is why is the current president saying Mr. Carter got it wrong?

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The Archives at Milepost 606


Louisville, Kentucky, United States
Never married, liberal Democrat, born in 1960, opinionated but generally pleasant, member of the Episcopal Church. Graduate of Prestonia Elementary, Durrett High, and Spalding University; the first two now-closed Jefferson County Public Schools, the latter a very small liberal arts college in downtown Louisville affiliated with the Roman Catholic Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. My vocation and avocation is politics. My favorite pastime is driving the backroads of Kentucky and southern Indiana, visiting small towns, political hangouts, courthouses, churches, and cemeteries. You are welcome to ride with me sometime.