Monday, February 20, 2006

Considering Mr. Peanut

Christ(of His mercy infinite)

i pray to see;and Olaf,too

preponderatingly because

unless statistics lie he was

more brave than me:more blond than you.

                         — e.e. cummins

I am not as good as Jimmy Carter, and neither are you. Rather than deter us from socially progressive behavior, that should inspire us.

The depth and persistence of disdain for former President Carter continues to astound and disappoint. We must assume that he continues to embarrass the greedy, the cowardly, the self-interested, the bigoted, the lowest common denominators, both in and out of government.

We are a nation that took one of our vilest leaders, the odious R.M. Nixon, and rehabilitated and reconstituted him as a statesman, when he had only slithered back into our consciousness to increase his wealth and further inflate his ego. Likewise, the majority of the country clings to fantasies that the failed presidency and disastrous economic policies of Ronald Reagan were somehow heroic and sensible. His entrenchment of bloated tax-and-spend government alone should send him forever to the inner rings of historic hell.

Do we so identify with these base bipeds? Must we scorn those who show us how to act and praise those whom we fear reflect our real thoughts?

The Gen-X and Gen-Y sorts are likewise trapped by historical clich├ęs. The Entitlement Generation used to be applied fairly by sociologists and historians to the end of the WWII and all of the Korean War folk, the AARP set. Indeed, it was "We fought a war, you owe us forever ...subsidized mortgages, never-ending, ever increasing Social Security and Medicare benefits that always outpace inflation...blah, blah." Ironically, it was this set who called their own Boomers the Me Generation. Recently, from nowhere in particular, the Boomers have responded to whining younger Americans by shifting that Entitlement phrase to them.

Despite the sacrifices that Boomers and younger generations have made and continue to make, the oldsters do not want to share in any lessening of their own entitlements. The silly slurs the Boomers and Gen-X and Y types fling are meaningless in the face of the debts they face to pay for the excesses of the Greatest Generation.

So, the 20 and 30 somethings have a shameful default of I-wasn't-even-born-yet when discussing recent U.S. history. That's as lame an excuse for mindless behavior and ignorance as any, ever. Yet, Jimmy is right in there. Young adults grow hearing of a worthless presidency.

Pick up or click to an encyclopedia, even Wikipedia, to cruise Jimmy's gubernatorial and presidential pluses and minuses. The plus side definitely wins. In addition, he lived his faith in a way that shames other nominal Christians, in and out of politics. He was socially progressive in the extreme — no discrimination against anyone by color, sexual orientation, or otherwise. In addition, he was the only Democrat who was successful internationally. He also understood protecting the planet when the rest of us were popping beers and tossing styrofoam.

Along with Woodrow Wilson and Thomas Jefferson, Jimmy Carter was decidedly one of the brightest presidents we ever had. Yet, he was unable to get his own party to pass national health-care. Also, his term saw rapid inflation.

A key factor that Gen-X and Yers do not often hear is that Jimmy was the only outsider in the modern Presidency. He so favored human rights, fairness to the poor, and other Biblical ideal that he did not play the political games (much like some Boston mayors and Council presidents). That was in fact his fatal flaw and undoing. He did not compromise enough, did not promise enough to get the pigs at the trough to look up often enough. He did the same as governor of Georgia. Right trumped expedient every time.

Even now, he has been unrelenting in the past 25 years. Brokering peace agreements and truces where others fail, building houses for the poor (with his own hands), speaking for the least connected here and abroad. As my mother used to say, for crying out loud in a bucket, what else do you want?

Other ex-Presidents seek adulation and wealth. Jimmy has done good his whole life. At 81, he apparently sees no reason to stop.

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