Ethics Hero: Former President Jimmy Carter

jimmy-carter

As its stands now, only Jimmy Carter among the four surviving former Presidents of the United States will be attending Donald Trump’s inauguration in Washington, D.C. on January 20. The others, Bill Clinton and the two George Bushes, will not, if their failure so far to RSVP to their official invitations means what most think it means.

President George H.W. Bush can be given a pass due to his advanced age and and precarious health; not so his son and Bill Clinton. Their absence will be petty and unpatriotic. Jimmy Carter knows what his duty is, and will do it. Good for him.

The inauguration of a new President is a national ritual and a vital one, signalling the support of the nation for a  leader duly elected to take the mantle of Washington, Lincoln and the rest. It is a tradition to celebrate the nation and its remarkable  system of peaceful transfer of power, and not, as I will soon explain to the Rockettes, the individual who will be President when the ceremony is over. It is a day to unite the country after an election, not to further divide it.

For former Presidents Bush and Clinton not to recognize this is no less than disgraceful…specially these Presidents, one who himself won office while losing the popular vote, and the other who never received a majority of votes cast in two elections. We know why Clinton and Bush are sulking. President Elect Trump, in his ugly campaign, personally insulted both Bush 43 and his younger brother Jeb, and Jeb may well regard his brother’s attendance at the Inaugural a betrayal. Well, Jeb needs to grow up. January 20 is about the United States of America, not hurt feelings or family solidarity. George Bush has an obligation to be there, not back in Texas snubbing the nation to get back at Trump.

Clinton’s pique is, if anything, even less defensible. He has thrown a post-election hissy fit, first race-baiting by attributing Trump’s support to “angry white men” and then blaming his wife’s shocking loss on FBI director James Comey. The uncomfortable truth for Bill is that if Comey hurt Hillary, it is only because Bill made it necessary for him to elaborate on the decision not to charge her after Clinton’s tarmac ambush of AG Loretta Lynch threw a cloud of suspicion of  former president -tampering over the FBI investigation.  Clinton’s serial sexual predation also wounded his wife’s chances, an example of just desserts missing the main miscreant and splatting like custard pie into a not-so-innocent bystander. What Bill Clinton was ethically obligated to say, if he wanted to be statesmanlike and a healing influence rather than a divisive one, was that Trump prevailed in a hard-fought campaign against daunting odds, and deserved credit and respect.

Nah. Bill has chosen to ignore the Golden Rule, and join with his fellow Democrats in trying to delegitimize a newly elected President before he takes office.

I hope both Bill and George find their ethical sides and follow the example of elder statesman James Earl Carter, Jr. He knows what the ethical course for a former POTUS is on January 20, no matter who is being sworn in.

UPDATE (1/3/17): It was announced today that Presidents Bush and Clinton, as well as Hillary Clinton, will be attending. Good for all of them, but especially Hillary. This will be hard.

56 Comments

Filed under Character, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Heroes, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Family, Government & Politics, Leadership, U.S. Society

56 responses to “Ethics Hero: Former President Jimmy Carter

  1. Zanshin

    Again “legitimize” missing de-?

  2. VPJ

    I think you mean de-legitimize the newly-elected president.

  3. Clinton’s serial sexual predation also wounded his wife’s chances, an example of just desserts missing the main miscreant and splatting like custard pie into a not-so-innocent bystander.

    The Democratic leadership at the time actually defending his misconduct only aggravated it .

    If you’re mystified about Trump and the death of outrage and lack of character evidenced in our national political actors, here’s what you could do.

    Find a dark room with a mirror. Bring with you a small lit candle. Stand before that mirror and spend three minutes in complete silence wondering about the death of outrage, then repeat after me:

    “Bill Clinton. Bill Clinton. Bill Clinton.”

    If that doesn’t work, try one of these: “It’s only about sex,” or “Everybody does it” or “It’s a private matter.”

    Repeat until the words lose all meaning, becoming mere sounds, unintelligible, so they’ll transport you to your safe meditative space.

    If that doesn’t work, there’s one more. Repeat the following:

    “If you drag a hundred-dollar bill through a trailer park, you never know what you’ll find.”

    Those immortal words belong to James Carville, the Clinton Democratic operative who — with Hillary’s assent — set the tone on how the Clintons would treat women who dared accuse former President Clinton of sexual harassment.

  4. I suspect that President Trump’s term in office will be much like that of President Carter, because I believe the Washington insiders of both parties will do everything they can to sabotage the outsider who would attempt to open their lair to the light of day.

    While I do not always agree with President Carter’s ideology, I believe his heart yearns always to achieve that which is beneficial for the American People. Though I have never met the man, President Carter is a distant relative to me. I have always been proud of his service to our country.

  5. Other Bill

    Outrageous that Clinton and the younger Bush are not attending. Shocking, really. Petty, grade school playground stuff.

  6. Good for Jimmy Carter! I’ve always like Jimmy Carter the man in spite of some of his political views.

    Right now I think there’s still “politicking” going on; in the end and barring illness, I suspect that George & Barbara Bush along with Bill & Hillary Clinton will show up too.

  7. dragin_dragon

    Just idle curiosity…does this election mean that we are now and forever, done with the Clintons? I sure hope so. Even though I never really liked Carter and still feel that he was a really BAD President, he was a pretty class act in some areas. Hard to figure how the same ideology (Democratic) fielded an ass-wipe like Clinton.

    • The difference is that Carter believes in the ideology whereas the Clintons use it only as a means of furthering their political careers and enhancing their personal power.

    • “[D]oes this election mean that we are now and forever, done with the Clintons? I sure hope so.”

      I hope so, too (that is, that “we are done with the Cntons”), but I’ll believe it only if I can live to see it. No: the power is just too irresistible, and Hlary still feels she is entitled to that power – and more and more power, once she occupies the office in the White House to which she is entitled. Sanders ran for the emocrat party nomination at age 74, so why shouldn’t she? After all (getting into her icky head for a moment, and channeling momentarily the stinkiest shit-for-brains of the unhinged Left), SHE should have been the President-elect now, not the Apprentice (Trump) – and, she would have been the President-elect now – if it were not for that evil, Fox News-led conspiracy of Comey and the Russians and the racists and the misogynists (including the female misogynists) and the evangelicals and the teabaggers and the news-fakers and so many stupid, angry, hateful, unhinged, white, homophobic pussy-grabbing males.

      I think this past November’s elections mean that we have only just begun to see the Cntons’ vengeance on the world (but especially, on the Trumps) for not being handed the White House with no questions asked. I would not be surprised if incessant Trump-bashing becomes the dominant narrative that helps to focus the bitter, angry Left’s many negative energies into a wide-open competition between former presidents Cnton and Obama, to determine which spouse (Hlary or Michelle) gets promoted most the next four years to front-running presidential candidate status.

      • luckyesteeyoreman

        I *am* happy to see that at least one former president is planning to attend the Apprentice’s inaugural. Does that make him an ethics hero? No, not in my book. It does suggest some decency dwells in the man. Perhaps Carter recognizes that as far as coming to live and rule in the White House as an outsider is concerned, he has lived to see himself out-outsidered.

  8. Patrice

    I too suspect that, in the end, the Clintons and the younger Bushes will attend, not because it’s the right thing to do but because they will face extreme and deserved scorn if they do not. The elder Bushes might if health will allow, but yes they deserve a pass due to age.

    I am a lifelong Jimmy Carter fan and already know him to be an ethics hero. Say what you want about him, about his politics, about the outcomes of his presidency, he will always be a hero to me. My mother was an extreme fan and received birthday greetings from him on her 90th birthday. A peak moment for her til the end of her life.

  9. Wayne

    It’s difficult to see Jimmy Carter as “Ethics Hero” about anything. I give him a little credit for showing up at the Inauguration ceremony. However, his anti-Semitic remarks about Israel and his drawing a moral equivalency between Hamas and Israel is shocking. Sure it’s fine that he shows up but he’s not a hero in any regard.

  10. Steve-O-in-NJ

    In all fairness to GWB, he hasn’t said he won’t be attending, in fact he said he would announce in a week whether he would or would not. I think your projections are accurate, but he may well surprise us by doing the right thing. Still, family is family, and maybe GWB prioritizes peace at Thanksgiving dinner going forward over paying homage to the man who called his brother low energy and implied his sister in law was basically a wetback.

    As for Bill, his behavior is indefensible, but doesn’t come as a surprise. Trump committed the ultimate sin: he opposed Hillary and won, and not only denied her the office that was hers by right of gender, political alignment, and marriage, he denied Bill Clinton eight more years of unfettered access to all those hot interns.

    It’s of course also about ideology as well. Trump isn’t just one of those misguided, icky conservatives like Bush the Elder or GWB before he got delusions of remaking the world like Woodrow Wilson. He’s not even a Magnificent Bastard like Ronald Reagan, who would have been a hero if he’d only done a few things differently…like throw a ton of Federal money into AIDS early on and follow Samantha Smith’s lead on the Cold War.

    Trump is just plain evil, he hates Muslims, who everyone who thinks the right way knows are just good people a little unhappy with those who stole one country out of 26 in the region and who make it necessary to every so often remind the West of their wrong thinking with a little throat slitting here, a shooting there, maybe a truck attack now and then on special occasions. He also hates Mexicans, who are just fellow Americans (everyone in the hemisphere is an American)in search of a better life. He thinks women are just there for the taking, or at least that’s come to light now, when he didn’t earn the privilege by pushing ultra-liberal abortion policies or draconian punishments for any male who even looks at a female the wrong way.

    Dammit, he’s just out of touch with the smarter, better, cooler, and right way of doing things, and, just like white, straight men need to be ostracized, shut out, and never allowed the slightest benefit of the doubt until they prove themselves worthy to kneel before their darker betters or kiss the dust before their mistresses’ feet, he needs to be treated like the combination of shit and Sauron that he is. That’s why everybody from the coolness capitals of NYC and Hollywood is fleeing from the inauguration like the Black Plague and why their fanbases are letting it be known which side they are on. That’s why the remaining liberal leaders like Bernie Sanders, like Jerry Brown, like the venerable Civil Rights Movement vets, are letting it be known they will fight Trump at every turn. That’s also why liberal hero Michael Moore is going to do his best to force Trump’s oath of office behind closed doors.

    • Wayne B

      “Trump is just plain evil, he hates Muslims, who everyone who thinks the right way knows are just good people a little unhappy with those who stole one country out of 26 in the region and who make it necessary to every so often remind the West of their wrong thinking with a little throat slitting here, a shooting there, maybe a truck attack now and then on special occasions. He also hates Mexicans, who are just fellow Americans (everyone in the hemisphere is an American)in search of a better life. . .” I’m taking this passage for satire and it’s pretty funny yet appalling how many liberal progressives would be nodding their pointed little heads in agreement. Carter of course will be called a traitor to the cause so I’m refining my opinion of him a little bit for showing up at the Inauguration.

  11. Chris

    The inauguration of a new President is a national ritual and a vital one, signalling the support of the nation for a leader duly elected to take the mantle of Washington, Lincoln and the rest.

    Please take a look at Trump’s last five tweets and explain to me why we our nation should unite to support him as a leader without resorting to “Because he’s going to be president.”

    The man is unhinged. He does not deserve the support of the nation. The fact that he has the lowest approval rating of any presidential elect before taking office is a GOOD thing. It shows that a majority of Americans can still recognize reality, which is that Trump is unfit for the office, as he conforms with every new tweet.

    It is our patriotic duty to show that we do NOT support Trump, and that we will NOT support him just because he is president.

  12. Chris

    Yes, these tweets show him to be unhinged. This is not normal behavior. It isn’t mentally healthy behavior. And this doesn’t even get into his saber-rattling tweet about escalating nuclear weapons! There is no excuse for this, Jack.

    Trump is dividing this country. Blaming those who refuse to attend the inauguration of such a man for dividing the country is ridiculous.

    Your last two sentences are unethical, irrational, harmful, hypocritical, foolish and wrong, just as they would have been wrong spoken about any previous President.

    They would have been wrong spoken about any past presidents. They are not wrong about Trump. Stop pretending that Trump is anything like any past presidents. He isn’t, for reasons well documented by YOU.

    I do not support all tactics to oppose Trump. Yelling at his daughter on a plane in front of her children is wrong. Not showing up to his inauguration is the LEAST past presidents can do to signal their opposition, and to recognize the fact that Trump is not fit for the office they served. His election is itself a disgrace to the office. Similar measures to delegitimize Trump are not only ethical, but necessary until he is impeached.

    • 1. Presidents are still Presidents.
      2. Ethical conduct doesn’t get suspended because you don’t like someone.
      3. There is nothing “unhinged” about any of those tweets. At worst they are careless and silly.
      4. No one can say enough bad about the UN to bother me.
      5. And your last sentence is more unethical and unhinged than anything Trump has tweeted yet. We don’t impeach Presidents for opposing smug partisan cant that the media pretended was working just fine but wasn’t.

      • Chris

        1. Presidents are still Presidents.

        Meaningless. I’m not saying he won’t be president. I’m saying he will be one that must be actively opposed at every opportunity. That starts on Day 1.

        2. Ethical conduct doesn’t get suspended because you don’t like someone.

        No one has an ethical duty to go to any president’s inauguration. George H.W. Bush certainly isn’t obligated to go to the inauguration of a man who said of his son Jeb, “He has to like Mexican illegals because of his wife.” Jeb’s brother doesn’t have an ethical obligation to do that either. Bill Clinton doesn’t have an ethical obligation to go to the inauguration of someone who threatened to imprison his wife.

        3. There is nothing “unhinged” about any of those tweets. At worst they are careless and silly.

        A president elect consistently tweeting “careless and silly” things–which can and have had international impact–in defiance of all common sense, as well as criticism that he is over-sensitive and tweets too much–is unhinged.

        4. No one can say enough bad about the UN to bother me.

        I would think it would bother you, given the “two presidents” dilemma you’ve previously described.

        5. And your last sentence is more unethical and unhinged than anything Trump has tweeted yet. We don’t impeach Presidents for opposing smug partisan cant that the media pretended was working just fine but wasn’t.

        That is obviously not why I think he should be impeached.

        • 1. Presidents are still Presidents.

          Meaningless. I’m not saying he won’t be president. I’m saying he will be one that must be actively opposed at every opportunity. That starts on Day 1.

          And how is that fair, unifying, responsible or ethical? What President other Lincoln was treated that way?

          2. Ethical conduct doesn’t get suspended because you don’t like someone.

          No one has an ethical duty to go to any president’s inauguration. George H.W. Bush certainly isn’t obligated to go to the inauguration of a man who said of his son Jeb, “He has to like Mexican illegals because of his wife.” Jeb’s brother doesn’t have an ethical obligation to do that either. Bill Clinton doesn’t have an ethical obligation to go to the inauguration of someone who threatened to imprison his wife.

          Of course they do. Obama has an ethical duty. Congress has a duty. It’s the duty to show respect for the country. You just as well might say that a bride’s family has no ethical duty to go to her wedding. Not going is unethical.

          3. There is nothing “unhinged” about any of those tweets. At worst they are careless and silly.

          A president elect consistently tweeting “careless and silly” things–which can and have had international impact–in defiance of all common sense, as well as criticism that he is over-sensitive and tweets too much–is unhinged.

          That’s beyond belief. You disagree with his style; that doesn’t make him unhinged. Obama has done more substantive harm in a weak than all of Trump’s tweets combined: he’s not in power yet, Not one tweet will be remembered a month from now, and he knows it.

          4. No one can say enough bad about the UN to bother me.

          I would think it would bother you, given the “two presidents” dilemma you’ve previously described.

          What bothers me is an outgoing President putting the incoming one in that kind of a bind, while stabbing the only Middle East democracy right between the shoulder blades.

          5. And your last sentence is more unethical and unhinged than anything Trump has tweeted yet. We don’t impeach Presidents for opposing smug partisan cant that the media pretended was working just fine but wasn’t.

          That is obviously not why I think he should be impeached.

          You think he should be impeached because the Democrats want to gain the government by fiat and disruption, since they can’t get control on merit and through the system, is that it? No President can be impeached based on acts or words performed while President Elect, short of treason. The statement about impeachment is smoking gun bias. Anyone who can say that at this point disqualifies themselves a fair observer and a respectable critic.

          • Chris

            And how is that fair, unifying, responsible or ethical? What President other Lincoln was treated that way?

            It is fair, responsible, and ethical, because Trump’s behavior has never once been presidential, because he is unfit for the office, because he puts his own ego above the good of the country, and because many of his policy proposals are illegal and unconstitutional. It isn’t “unifying,” because it is irresponsible, unfair and unethical to suggest we “unify” behind a monster.

            Of course they do. Obama has an ethical duty. Congress has a duty. It’s the duty to show respect for the country. You just as well might say that a bride’s family has no ethical duty to go to her wedding. Not going is unethical.

            The past presidents and Congress are not Trump’s “family,” and have no such obligation. They have an obligation to their country, not to Trump. Perhaps they think it would be better for the country if they refuse to legitimize Trump by attending his inauguration. If so, I agree with them.

            That’s beyond belief. You disagree with his style;

            I seriously can’t believe you can look at those tweets and simply think the critiques are about “style.” What about his tweet that we should ramp up production of nuclear weapons? His tweet praising Putin’s condemnation of our current president? Those are unhinged, and once again show him to be too irresponsible and immature for this job.

            Obama has done more substantive harm in a weak than all of Trump’s tweets combined:

            Bullshit.

            What bothers me is an outgoing President putting the incoming one in that kind of a bind, while stabbing the only Middle East democracy right between the shoulder blades.

            Ridiculous. Stupid. Obama has done no such thing. Every president since LBJ has refused to veto more anti-Israel UN resolutions than Obama has. This is not even a slight break from US policy on Israel. The claim that it is is hysterical partisan nonsense, and I expect better from you.

            http://www.cbsnews.com/news/why-are-people-so-upset-over-the-latest-united-nations-resolution-about-israel/

            You think he should be impeached because the Democrats want to gain the government by fiat and disruption, since they can’t get control on merit and through the system, is that it?

            Stop. You spent an entire year chronicling the many reasons Trump is unfit for the office, and will make our nation worse. Now the only reason to oppose him is because I’m a Democrat? This is gaslighting, Jack.

            No President can be impeached based on acts or words performed while President Elect, short of treason.

            Given his actions re: Russia, we’ll wait and see.

    • Steve-O-in-NJ

      “His election is itself a disgrace to the office. Similar measures to delegitimize Trump are not only ethical, but necessary until he is impeached.”

      Who’s unhinged now, you whack job? That sounds exactly like something out of the mouth of Michael Moore. If I said the same thing about Obama you’d say I was a racist pig, but now that the proverbial shoe is on the other foot it’s everyone’s patriotic duty to rise up like the Civil Rights Movement until we undo what we just did last month by impeaching a President who hasn’t even taken the oath of office yet.

      I meant what I said in my post above as a parody of American liberals’ ridiculous views regarding Trump and their prioritization of everyone’s interests EXCEPT this country’s, but you sound dangerously close to one of those folks that Wayne B described as nodding right along.

      The arguably greatest President of them all, Abraham Lincoln, said that a house divided against itself cannot stand, yet that’s precisely what you are advocating for here. I think you need to snap out of it. There isn’t going to be some beautiful wave of popular opposition that’s going to rise up and shut the country down, nonviolently, of course, until such time as Trump and his administration see the light and step down like whipped dogs. This isn’t 1947 and there is no Gandhi to serve as a saintly symbol. This isn’t even 1922, and there is no Michael Collins to lead a clever campaign of assassination and murder among a sympathetic population until continuation of the status quo is impossible.

      Trump actually has huge support in most of the country, we were not electing a queen of California. The people of this nation aren’t interested in rising up and throwing him out, and doing that would not be objectively good for the country, at least not until he actually commits misconduct in or abuse of the office, which hasn’t happened yet.

      This isn’t the 60s, and the people’s sympathy right now isn’t with some popular protest movement against an unpopular government that’s doing the wrong thing. If you believe otherwise, go ahead, go to Washington in a month. Stand in the middle of the street with a sign with some idiotic slogan while trying to disrupt the inauguration. But if you do, don’t complain to me when you are lying in a cell with the side of your head creased by a baton.

      • “The arguably greatest President of them all, Abraham Lincoln, said that a house divided against itself cannot stand”

        But it isn’t a quote original to Lincoln.

      • Patrice

        “But if you do, don’t complain to me when you are lying in a cell with the side of your head creased by a baton.”

        Seriously? What do you think THAT says about the incoming administration? That doesn’t say “unhinged” to me, but it does say fascism.

  13. I’ll give Bill Clinton a pass. After the election, Trump still trashed Hillary. You talk about tradition. Well, that’s not traditional. And what exactly is the tradition regarding attending the inauguration for someone who threatens to throw your wife in jail?

    • Chris

      Great point, Windypundit. I remain confused as to why everyone else must be held to a higher standard than Donald Trump.

      • Just to be clear, I’m not arguing that other people do not have to be ethical because Trump is unethical. I’m saying that an appeal to tradition loses it’s strength when dealing with someone who abuses those traditions.

      • Pure distortion of the point, which is that Trump be held to the exact same standard of every other President Elect: given the opportunity to actually be President before his policies are rejected and he is opposed. The events of the campaign are irrelevant, becuasehis election was a statement that he should be President in spite of them, and all the protests to the contrary are supposed to recede into: elections have conseqences. Among the most shameful and discrediting features of the progressive/ Democratic freak-out is that these are teh cynics who were arguing—with ME among others—when Bill Clinton had been thoroughly exposed as a liar, a louse, an exploiter of women and a sociopath, that character didn’t matter, that only policies mattered. This is a sore point with me: in 1996, I produced a revival of Gore Vidal’s “The Best Man,” a play about a Presidential nomination and the role of honesty and integrity, or lack of it, in the process. The Washington Post’s critic slammed the play as “dated,” writing that the idea that anything mattered but policies was naive and archaic.

        Trump’s critics want to use an entirely different standard for him, just as the media did, just as Hillary Clinton tried to do: Donald’s misogyny is disqualifying, but Bill’s was “just sex.”

        There is only one standard that is relevant: A President gets a clean slate. Every President. Trump is no exception.

        • Chris

          The events of the campaign are irrelevant,

          Even if I grant this ridiculous premise–do you also believe his actions since he won the election are irrelevant? Does nothing he says from now until inauguration matter?

          Trump has had weeks since the election to show skeptics that he is a rational, competent adult who will treat this job with the respect and maturity it demands. He has rejected that opportunity literally dozens of times since then. Many people told me to wait and see what he would do after the election; would he moderate his tone? Would he stop using Twitter to bash his critics? Would he stop shamelessly flirting with Putin? The answers to those questions are “No, no, and no.” And now you want me to wait and see until after the inauguration? No.

          Trump has shown us who he is, Believe him.

          that character didn’t matter, that only policies mattered.

          Are you seriously going to pretend that Trump’s critics haven’t vigorously opposed his policies?!

          Trump’s idiotic policies are intimately tied into his poor character. He said women should be punished for an abortion because he’s a misogynist. He tweeted that we need to escalate our production of nuclear weapons because he’s a fake tough guy. He helped change the GOP’s stance on the Ukraine because he’s easily flattered and Putin has said nice things about him. He said we should build a giant wall and deport every single illegal immigrant because he’s a xenophobic moron.

          The idea that his policies have not been criticized to the same degree as his character, or that you can easily separate the two, is ludicrous, Jack. I can’t believe you’d suggest such a thing.

  14. Steve-O-in-NJ

    Just for what it’s worth, both Bill and Hillary and GWB and Laura did announce that they will be attending the inauguration. As you said, we can give GHWB a pass due to the fact that he’s 92 and in less than wonderful health. They just decided to wait to announce until after the holidays. Unfortunately, I don’t think their presence will move any of the A-list celebs into performing, however, It really doesn’t matter. The president is supposed to govern, not take every chance to hobnob with actors and singers.

    That said, will Bill around as well as Trump, Jackie Evancho better watch from both directions.

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