Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Yet Again, Carter Dares Utter the Unutterable

Over the weekend, at a press conference in the UK, Jimmy Carter “revealed” that Israel has at least 150 nuclear weapons. Israel has never admitted to having any, though no one doubts that it does. Nevertheless it tries hard to keep the facts from view. Mordecai Vanunu can testify to that. Since 1986, when he delivered indisputable evidence of Israel’s nuclear program to The Times of London, Israel has persecuted him relentlessly, turning his case into an international cause celèbre. But Carter did say one thing that is not widely known -- the number 150. He also said that Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip is “one of the greatest human rights crimes now existing on Earth.”

Now watch the Democrats squirm and watch Barack Obama distance himself from the former President as surely as if he were Obama’s former pastor who also let some “outrageous” and “inflammatory” but perfectly obvious truths sneak into his preaching. Unlike Hillary Clinton, Obama might not do literally anything to win; but he’ll do a great deal.

Could it be that for a Democrat to say true things about subjects the party holds taboo, he has to have already been President? That would be a plausible conjecture but for the obvious counter-example. But then Bill Clinton still has a dog in the fight. [In order not to further enrage the good women of Clinton Supporters Count Too, I’ll refrain from using the correct, sex-specific term.] Also, not being beyond being on the make, not just in the obvious way but financially and politically as well, Clinton is far less able than the octogenarian Carter to free himself from the constraints that tie down would-be players. But whatever it is in his situation that frees Jimmy Carter from the need to pander to the Party’s paymasters is, at most, only a necessary condition for his possession of that rarest of body parts in a politician, a backbone. The decisive thing is his character; the fact that he is a man of decency and integrity -- much as it grieves me to say this about someone whose politics has always been, at best, just barely centrist. So Bravo, yet again, to Jimmy Carter – not only the best former President the Democrats have going, but also the best Democratic President in many a generation, not that Bill Clinton or LBJ or the overrated but “inspiring” JFK or the vastly overrated and thoroughly uninspiring Harry Truman give him a whole lot of competition. Just don’t expect to see much of him this summer in Denver.

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