There used to be a code among former presidents that you did not speak ill of other occupants of the White House. In the summer of 1998, President Ford told me that he would not comment on President Clinton’s personal problems, saying only that he hoped “respect for the presidency would be restored soon.” A couple of weeks ago, George W. Bush also declined to speak about President Obama, except to say that raising taxes on anyone right now would not be a good idea.
But former President Jimmy Carter is apparently not a code keeper. On his recent book tour, Mr. Carter has taken to blasting the Republican Party and Bush-the-Younger. Carter is also very, very disenchanted with Fox News.
Speaking to liberal NPR host Diane Rehm, Carter put forth, “Public broadcasting networks on radio and TV basically tell the honest and objective truth. I think republicans who [want funding for public broadcasting cut] basically would like everyone to have one channel and that’s Fox News.”
Since there are very few conservative commentators on the public broadcasting payroll while dozens of liberal pundits are collecting paychecks, the fair and balanced claim by the committed liberal Carter is kind of suspect. But his hatred of Fox News (he calls us vicious) is interesting in light of his stature.
Mr. Carter’s main beef seems to be that the media is not totally dominated by left-wing thought as it was during his time in office. If you analyze the campaign between Carter and Gerald Ford in 1976, you will find that the media tilted strong for the man from Plains. Ford was portrayed as a bumbling fool on Saturday Night Live and that was often echoed by the press. The fact that President Ford pardoned Richard Nixon for Watergate activities sent the liberal media into a frenzy that persists to this day.
But now it is President Obama who is getting roughed up, and Mr. Carter doesn’t like it one bit. In fact, the former president has even implied that some of the current criticism is race-based. Carter is a big Obama fan and is very protective of the president.
Nothing wrong with that, unless you become hysterical, which Jimmy Carter has. I believe he identifies with the Obama administration because the same kind of problems that sunk him, the economy and Iran, just to name two, are vexing the White House today. Carter does not believe he received a fair shake in the court of public opinion and sees President Obama as being in the same boat. Thus, he’s acting out.
But Jimmy Carter should remember that he once held the most prestigious position this country has to offer. Running around whining about unfair media coverage and Republican meanness is beneath his station. As much as Carter loathes what George W. Bush stands for, he should take a page from W’s posture on public criticism. Button it, Jimmy. It’s just making you look small.