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Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Jimmy Carter: The Director's Cut

CNN has a transcript of Jimmy Carter's speech to the Democratic National Convention. I think there were a few lines left out, so I've put them back in. Think of it as closed captioning, or subtitles.

My name is Jimmy Carter, and I'm not running for president.
It didn't go so well the last time.


Twenty-eight years ago, I was running for president. And I said then, "I want a government as good and as honest and as decent and as competent and as compassionate as are the American people."
I said that twenty-four years ago, too, and Ronald Reagan was elected.


As many of you may know, my first chosen career was in the United States Navy, where I served as a submarine officer.
I was on a nucular sub.

At that time, my shipmates and I were ready for combat and prepared to give our lives to defend our nation and its principles. At the same time, we always prayed that our readiness would preserve the peace.
It was the praying that did it, not the guns and stuff.

I served under two presidents, Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower, men who represented different political parties, both of whom had faced their active military responsibilities with honor.

They knew the horrors of war. And later as commanders in chief, they exercised restraint and judgment, and they had a clear sense of mission.

We had a confidence that our leaders, both military and civilian, would not put our soldiers and sailors in harm's way by initiating wars of choice unless America's vital interests were in danger.

Nobody ever had any doubts about Korea, or the Cold War, ever. Nobody's tried to second-guess the A-bomb drop, either.


Today, our Democratic Party is led by another former naval officer, one who volunteered for military service. He showed up when assigned to duty, and he served with honor and distinction.

He also knows the horrors of war and the responsibilities of leadership.

In particular, his leadership is responsible for some of those horrors of war. Or so he's said.


As you all know, our country faces many challenges at home involving energy, taxation, the environment, education and health. To meet these challenges, we need new leaders in Washington whose policies are shaped by working American families instead of the super-rich...
Like John Kerry...oops!

Today, our dominant international challenge is to restore the greatness of America...
(Our European friends can just forget I said that; I know it scares them.)

...based on telling the truth, a commitment to peace, and respect for civil liberties at home and basic human rights around the world.
As long as it doesn't involve fighting.


After 9/11, America stood proud -- wounded, but determined and united. A cowardly attack on innocent civilians brought us an unprecedented level of cooperation and understanding around the world. But in just 34 months, we have watched with deep concern as all this good will has been squandered by a virtually unbroken series of mistakes and miscalculations.
Made by the French, the Germans, the Russians, the UN, and Saddam Hussein.

Unilateral acts and demands have isolated the United States from the very nations we need to join us in combating terrorism.
Such as the British, the Australians, the Italians, the...

Let us not forget that the Soviets lost the Cold War because the American people combined the exercise of power with adherence to basic principles, based on sustained bipartisan support.
The Democrats backed the Cold War 100%!

We understood the positive link between the defense of our own freedom and the promotion of human rights.
Unlike, say, George Bush.

But recent policies have cost our nation its reputation as the world's most admired champion of freedom and justice.
Taking out Saddam was a blow against freedom and justice everywhere!

What a difference these few months of extremism have made.
I'm talking about Bush here. Bin Laden? Who's that?


With our allies disunited, the world resenting us, and the Middle East ablaze...
Just like it was twenty-four years ago, when I left office...


In the meantime, the Middle East peace process has come to a screeching halt.
And yet, paradoxically, Israel has been more peaceful since then. Pay that no mind.


The achievements of Camp David a quarter century ago and the more recent progress made by President Bill Clinton are now in peril.
I brokered a great peace deal a quarter century ago. Have you heard? It's in all the history books. Of course, there's been no peace since then...


Elsewhere, North Korea's nuclear menace, a threat far more real and immediate than any posed by Saddam Hussein, has been allowed to advance unheeded, with potentially ominous consequences for peace and stability in Northeast Asia.
Not that we should confront North Korea!

These are some of the prices of our government has paid for this radical departure from the basic American principles and values that are espoused by John Kerry.
Er, a list of those values and principles was supposed to go here, but he never got back to me on that. Just use your imaginations.

In repudiating extremism, we need to recommit ourselves to a few common-sense principles that should transcend partisan differences.
NOTE: "extremism" = "Bush". Not Islamism. Islam is a religion of peace. Bush is the extremist.

First, we cannot enhance our own security if we place in jeopardy what is most precious to us, namely the centrality of human rights in our daily lives and in global affairs.
And that means leaving dictators alone!

Second, we cannot maintain our historic self-confidence as a people if we generate public panic.
Or if we want to keep the French happy.

Third, we cannot do our duty as citizens and patriots if we pursue an agenda that polarizes and divides our country.
So I'm going to have Michael Moore taken out and shot. Ha ha! Just kidding.


You can't be a war president one day and claim to be a peace president the
next, depending on the latest political polls.

Oops! John, that was going to be a private remark to you. Don't know how it got in the speech.

When our national security requires military action, John Kerry has already proven in Vietnam that he will not hesitate to act.
He will not hesitate to act in a flashy yet ultimately pointless manner, claim glory, then engage in shallow public breast beating when polls so decree.

And as a proven defender of our national security, John Kerry will strengthen the global alliance against terrorism while avoiding unnecessary wars.
He chides! He bribes! He makes kissy face with Chirac while being stabbed in the back!

Ultimately, the basic issue is whether America will provide global leadership that springs from the unity and the integrity of the American people...
We'll be all unified and integral and stuff, and they'll have to follow us! We won't have to do a thing!

...or whether extremist doctrines, the manipulation of the truth, will define America's role in the world.
Remember: Bush is the extremist truth manipulator here. There are no other threats.

At stake is nothing less than our nation's soul.

In a few months, I will, God willing, enter my 81st year of my life.


Thank you, and God bless America.

Remember, Europeans: my invocations of God are harmless; Bush's invocations of God show a man in the grip of a terrifying religious fervor.


Well, that's all in good clean fun. I am sorry, but not surprised, to hear Carter talk like this. He thinks that "leadership" is being wise and strong and sitting here on our unity and integrity, and yet not doing a single blessed thing. In case he's forgotten, this is pretty much what did his presidency in, the touching yet naive belief that good intentions alone would earn the respect of the world. News flash: People without good intentions don't respect them. And even some with good intentions think that "leadership" (whatever that may mean at a given moment) requires that we do something more than sit quietly with our self-placed halos shining smugly around us. We have the UN for that.

Many bloggers have said that they don't believe a Kerry administration will do anything much different than Bush has done. I don't know what to think, really. This David Brooks column pretty much sums it up for me:

Kerry has been talking for years, and yet such is the thicket of his verbiage that he has achieved almost complete strategic ambiguity.

... Is Kerry a little dull because he is steady and sensible, or is he just incapable of making up his mind? Is he prudential because in times of crisis the nation needs a steady hand, or is he cautious because he simply doesn't grasp that we're in a new world, confronted by a rabid ideological foe?

Good questions. I don't know the answer.

But I'm pretty sure I know what our poor abandoned "traditional allies" will do if Kerry is elected. Where Bush got a cold shoulder and a curt brush-off, Kerry will get a warm embrace and a polite brush-off. Kerry and the Europeans will have wonderful dinners where the champagne freely flows, and they will speak in beautiful French, and get along so amiably.

And Kerry will be able to get our European friends to come to certain agreements with us, unlike that vulgar cowboy Bush. But there will be qualifications, you understand. Exceptions. Nuance. And we all (especially Kerry) will walk away quite satisfied, despite the fact that the agreements have been qualified and nuanced into futility. It isn't that the Europeans will have put one over on Kerry, but more the fact that he understands all this subtlety and sophistication. He understands the importance of coming to meaningless agreements. After all, we have agreed! We have consulted our allies! And isn't that what's really important? Actually getting things done comes a distant second.