Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Snap! Don't Make Me Crack You Like a Peanut Shell, Biatch!

Venerable statesman, retired peanut farmer, and former President James Earl Carter gets all up in Zell Miller's face, know whut I'm sayin?

You seem to have forgotten that loyal Democrats elected you as mayor and as state senator. Loyal Democrats, including members of my family and me, elected you as lieutenant governor and as governor. It was a loyal Democrat, Lester Maddox, who assigned you to high positions in the state government when you were out of office. It was a loyal Democrat, Roy Barnes, who appointed you as U.S. Senator when you were out of office. By your historically unprecedented disloyalty, you have betrayed our trust.

Yes, Zell Miller betrayed his party; he's a Benedict Arnold, a Quisling. But Carter isn't one for Republicanesque/O'Reillyesque demands of zero dissent, which is why Carter and many Democrats are decent if often wrong where the other side is concentrated evil. But I digress.

Great Georgia Democrats who served in the past, including Walter George, Richard Russell, Herman Talmadge, and Sam Nunn disagreed strongly with the policies of Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and me, but they remained loyal to the party in which they gained their public office. Other Democrats, because of philosophical differences or the race issue, like Bo Callaway and Strom Thurmond, at least had the decency to become Republicans.

Zing! That Strom Thurmond reference has gotta sting, even though the much-dread Sully is probably right (for once) in thinking that it wouldn't sting Miller personally. But the point is that one can disagree without publicly and extravagantly urinating on the base and mechanics that put one in high office. Contrast Zell to, say, Ben Nighthorse Campbell.

Everyone knows that you were chosen to speak at the Republican Convention because of your being a “Democrat,” and it’s quite possible that your rabid and mean-spirited speech damaged our party and paid the Republicans some transient dividends.

For now it has, at least. But even if that trend doesn't continue (and I doubt it will), what matters is Miller's intent, and Carter knows it.

Perhaps more troublesome of all is seeing you adopt an established and very effective Republican campaign technique of destroying the character of opponents by wild and false allegations. The Bush campaign’s personal attacks on the character of John McCain in South Carolina in 2000 was a vivid example. The claim that war hero Max Cleland was a disloyal American and an ally of Osama bin Laden should have given you pause, but you have joined in this ploy by your bizarre claims that another war hero, John Kerry, would not defend the security of our nation except with spitballs. (This is the same man whom you described previously as “one of this nation's authentic heroes, one of this party's best-known and greatest leaders -- and a good friend.")

I love that "should have given you pause". Jimmy Carter, still using the mild jargon of diplomacy (he did triumph at Camp David, after all) when it's evident that he is blisteringly angry.

I, myself, never claimed to have been a war hero, but I served in the navy from 1942 to 1953, and, as president, greatly strengthened our military forces and protected our nation and its interests in every way. I don’t believe this warrants your referring to me as a pacificist.

Well, of course it doesn't but then Miller has bought the whole Republican ball of lies. I'll have more to say pertaining to this passage later. For now, notice Carter's modesty.

Zell, I have known you for forty-two years and have, in the past, respected you as a trustworthy political leader and a personal friend. But now, there are many of us loyal Democrats who feel uncomfortable in seeing that you have chosen the rich over the poor, unilateral preemptive war over a strong nation united with others for peace, lies and obfuscation over the truth, and the political technique of personal character assassination as a way to win elections or to garner a few moments of applause. These are not the characteristics of great Democrats whose legacy you and I have inherited.

Which means, "You're not worthy, biatch." How true.

All this is due attention because Carter, famously mild, has become wrath here and I love it.

Jimmy Carter was not a good president, even though his successors have done their collective best to make him look good in comparison. Carter's faults lay in poor execution and bad luck, but not in lack of integrity and ideals. This last is what makes the right especially despise him.

The right's myth of Ronald Reagan holds that he was a peace-loving, gentle, decent Christian man who was above dirty tricks and had a courageous common sense that trumped supposedly vascilating pointy-headed liberal "intellectualism." No surprise that all except that last are in truth applicible to Carter but can only be falsely applied to Ronald Reagan, whose campaign stole Jimmy Carter's debate notebook and engineered the October Surprise release of hostages from Iran (which, when added to Iran-Contra hostage bargaining and the sacking of Alexander Haig and subsequent withdrawl of US forces from Lebannon, nicely explodes the myth that Reagan was some sort of stalwart -- on the other hand, Carter at least attempted a militarised hostage rescue, which was of course an embarrassing failure of execution).

Carter advocated the decriminalisation of marijuana, while Reagan infamously wanted people to "just say no" and if they didn't, had the book thrown at them. Which is Christian as in tolerant and which is Puritan as in mean-spirited? Also, which makes the most "common sense" policy-wise? Carter, unlike Reagan, practiced what Reagan preached with regard to family values. Thus, divorcee Reagan was a hypocrite who didn't recognise his own children, while Carter was actually "Christian" about it and what's more had the decency to refrain from pushing it on others. Reagan famously slept most of the day, was so inattentive otherwise that he could get away with lying about Iran-Contra by saying that he wasn't informed and had little recollection. He had little knowledge of geopolitics and history (Armenian genocide?) and had a penchant for slander (President Gerald Ford "is a communist!") that would do Richard Nixon justice. On the other hand, Carter was considered a workaholic by nearly everyone, as far as I know never slandered (or "misspoke" in a conveniently slanderous way) his poltical opponents, and at least had the IQ to become a nuclear engineer, something which Zell Miller's President-of-choice can't even pronounce much less wrap his head round the concept of. Such facts make for wrathful Conservatives.

Again, Carter wasn't an effective President. He listened, disasterously, to Zbigniew Brzezinki more than he did to Cyrus Vance, and the results, in funding the mujahadin in Afghanistan, may or may not have been acceptable for the time but doubtless laid the groundwork, which Reagan continued and expanded, to 9/11. (Maybe he should have listened more to Robert Redford? No, just kidding.) Anyway, this is the first case where an acting president listened too much to the advice of a neocon, and we know how well all the subsequent cases have turned out. Carter's wheat embargo on the Soviet Union was a disaster for American farmers, and his boycott of the Moscow 1980 Olympics, while understandable as a symbol at the time, pretty much destroyed the popularity of the event when the Soviets reciprocated in '84; still, he employed symbol and force in the Cold War, and so cannot be considered "pacifistic."

..except when compared to the litany of liars that menaced him so, and who are very much like the dishonest fuck-ups whom Zell Miller has now embraced. But that doesn't make Miller's accusation true, it just makes it a ridiculous exercise in semantics. Thus, being careful is being "pacifistic" while being reckless and dishonest is the preferable course in Zell's eyes. Jimmy Carter is more than right to send this letter to Miller which renders Ol' Zell into so much crunchy Skippy peanut butter (I'll resist the urge to write "Peanut Butter and Zelly").

**Update: Not to pat myself on the back, but I thought I was right to avoid crapulent license with Zell's name: it's been done to death. But that doesn't stop Jonah Goldberg, whose wordplays on Zell's name get ever more eye-rolling.

**Update Again : I am a sloppy writer and excreable proofreader. I changed a completely inappropriate word. Also clarified a different sentence.