Wednesday, April 06, 2005

"Gimmie" Carter

To NBC, this was the story they found most compelling today, to the point that Matt Lauer felt compelled to deeply explore the matter this morning on the Today Show.

The flap is this: President Bush did not permit Jimmy Carter to attend the Pope's funeral with the U.S. delegation. The delegation has five spots, occupied by the President and First Lady, President Bush 41, President Clinton, and Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. The President explained that there were 5 slots allotted, and that there was no more room for Mr. Carter.

And so the analysis began. Was this a snub? Was it that there was one person too many? Is Bush being his usual mean-spirited self? And then most interestingly, the discussion came to the point of wondering whether Condoleeza Rice should have turned over her place to the former President who, by the by, is head of the Carter Center which monitors free elections, and is a Nobel Laureate? Put a different way, should the sitting Secretary of State abandon a diplomatic event to indulge the personal desires of a former president to attend who has relegated himself to irrelevancy as a result of a failed presidency, used his moral authority to endorse a stolen election in Venezuela which left a pro-Castro dictator in power, and spewed irresponsible pacifist rhetoric since September 11 which caused a few Swedes to swoon?

I certainly think that Carter's singularly obnoxious behavior over the past four years, trying to undercut the Administration's foreign policy at every turn did not warm the President to him. And while the president probably could have asked the Vatican for an extra spot, why would he want to be so publicly gracious to someone who refuses to offer him the same public graces, and in fact profits from such behavior?

But the really crude suggestion, that Secretary Rice step aside in deference to Carter, is revealing of the lack of respect the media and the left have for her. Carter has sought to undercut the foreign policy which she has crafted. He has been a public thorn in her side. To grant him anything is to somehow truncate her role as Secretary of State. And I doubt that the same request would have been made of Colin Powell. Lastly, the story had to come from somewhere, meaning that the media is advocating on its own for Carter, which isn't too likely, or Carter picked up the phone to a reporter for the purpose of creating a media controversy because he did not get his way.

And while I realize that this is not his specific intention, the suggestion that Secretary Rice give up her seat for former President Carter gives off the tiniest scent of an arrogant southern white man telling a southern black woman to go to the back of the bus.


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