Posted: June 5, 07                               ב"ה       
י"ט בסיון, תשס"ז

Mr. Carter, You Had Your Chance
Rabbi Shea Hecht
About the Author

Each presidential election seems to heat up earlier than the one before. The presidential election of 2008 is no different and is accelerating at a steady pace. For some reason one name keeps on showing up all over the place, that of former president Jimmy Carter.


I was young and not as involved in politics when Carter was elected so I don't remember every last thing he did. However I do keep hearing that he was the worst president in the twentieth century, and perhaps in our history. Yet, the Democratic party props the former president up on pillows as an ornament for all to see. He has written a book full of inaccuracies that is touted all over the place and his opinion is sought on numerous matters that he had messed up during his own presidency.


Knowing Mr. Carter's history I found it interesting that he recently made and then retracted some negative remarks about our present president and his administration.


I have a bit of advice for the former president regarding his comments. There is a simple exercise that can have powerful ramifications on one's ability to control their tongue from saying negative or hurtful things. The suggestion is to take three thoughts, out of the thousands that flit through our minds each day, and hold back from expressing them. The point of this exercise is that if people consciously select a specific thought and hold it back from becoming actual words, they train their minds to diminish the speed in which thoughts turn to speech.


I feel strongly that had Mr. Carter practiced this exercise over the years, perhaps he wouldn't have had to retract his exceedingly foolish statement in which he called President Bush's international relations "the worst in history." Mr. Carter also took aim at Bush's environmental policies and the administration's "quite disturbing" faith-based initiative program.


Aside from perhaps thinking before making such a comment on President Bush's ability to lead the country, both in domestic and foreign affairs, Mr. Carter could have studied the Talmudic dictum, "Whoever disqualifies others, disqualifies them with his own faults."  The meaning of this passage is that one who has a fault sees it in others. Mr. Carter is no different than anyone else.


President Carter had his chance and there seems to be some trouble remembering the glorious and successful four years he thinks had in office, judging from his comments. Does Mr. Carter think that no one can remember as far back as the 1970's? Did he perhaps believe that if he disappears off the radar screen for 20 years we would forget?


If we wanted to look back at how Carter's administration dealt with domestic issues we would see that the economy was plagued by sky-high double digit inflation, the people waited on long gas lines, banks had high interest rates and there was a high unemployment level.


In foreign affairs, Mr. Carter has a failed 444-day American hostage crisis in Iran to his credit, the Panama Canal fiasco and much more.


For his own sake, I think that perhaps former president Carter should refrain from casting his negative opinion and smug self righteousness on presidents that follow him into the oval office. No president in recent history criticized their successors to the office during their lifetime and his own record tells us that he shouldn't be the one to start.  


It would seem to me that had Mr. Carter thought twice before he spoke he wouldn't have said that the present presidential administration is the worst in history. Perhaps he would have just used that thought as one of the three he kept to himself


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