Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Please Support CounterPunch’s Annual Fund Drive
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We only ask you once a year, but when we ask we mean it. So, please, help as much as you can. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. All contributions are tax-deductible.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Scandal That Wasn’t

Okay, I admit it. Everybody’s got a weakness. For some, it’s Godiva chocolates. For me, it’s Jimmy Carter. How can one not like a man who says things like “Usually a president’s image is enhanced by going to war. That didn’t appeal to me?”

Okay, so he may surround himself with more controversy than secret service, but no one will ever accuse the former peanut farmer, and president of being a phony. He has antagonized just about every important political figure of our time, including his immediate successor Ronald Reagan. He alienated many by calling Israel an “apartheid state.”

Remember that it was then President Carter who refused to go along with pagan chants to bomb Iran when those 52 American hostages were taken, a move that may have cost him reelection.

As a form of timed release as Mr. Carter’s “White House Diary” comes out, Jimmy Carter sat down for an interview with Leslie Stahl (no relation) and, true to form, shocked yet again by saying that it was he who had what he called “comprehensive” health reform legislation first, and that his then political rival, Senator Ted Kennedy, “killed the bill.” He portrayed the lion of the Senate as “abusive,” and Stahl read selections from Carter’s “Diary” that suggested Kennedy had been kicked out of college, and other scurrilous things.

Disclosure number two: I’m also a big fan of Ted Kennedy’s.

This is not about liking or disliking. This is not about defamation of character. This is not about speaking ill of the dead. In his book, and during the interview, it was pointed out that Mr. Carter roundly criticized Ronald Reagan, suggesting that a renaissance in racism happened on Reagan’s watch.

But, the obvious is often the most elusive element in the equation. Jimmy Carter was being interviewed about his newly published diary which he wrote while he was president of the United States. Ostensibly, each day he was in office, he recounted his experiences, his ruminations, events of importance, any trials and tribulations.

Forget location, context is everything. Should his “Diary” be an autobiography, or a memoir, it may be fair to question the judgment of a president, and a man, who would speak poorly of a former colleague, but no one should be expected to redact, or bury any personal complications that arose with one of his peers.

At the close of the 60 Minutes interview, correspondent Leslie Stahl made sure to note that whatever enmity may have existed between Carter and Kennedy was resolved, and the two worked closely and amicably after Carter left the White House.

Ultimately, it comes down to this. If you don’t want to hear what he really thinks, don’t ask Jimmy Carter. That’s one of his great virtues. He calls them as he sees them as did Senator Kennedy. Ted Kennedy was no stranger to speaking his mind. That is what I respect most about both men.

Mr. Carter’s outspokenness on the subject of Ted Kennedy is not the stuff from which a scandal emerges. They are the reflections of a man who maybe resents having the four years he presided over a peaceful country seen as a failed presidency. These are the words of a man who wants to set the record straight more than to demonize any past political rivals

Should Jimmy Carter be made to retract, or recant his statements about Ted Kennedy or anyone else, it would be a huge disservice to history, and one that Mr. Kennedy himself would abjure.

JAYNE LYN STAHL is a widely published poet, essayist, playwright, and screenwriter, member of PEN American Center, and PEN USA.

More articles by:

JAYNE LYN STAHL is a widely published poet, essayist, playwright, and screenwriter, member of PEN American Center, and PEN USA.

October 15, 2018
Rob Urie
Climate Crisis is Upon Us
Conn Hallinan
Syria’s Chessboard
Patrick Cockburn
The Saudi Atrocities in Yemen are a Worse Story Than the Disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi
Sheldon Richman
Trump’s Middle East Delusions Persist
Justin T. McPhee
Uberrima Fides? Witness K, East Timor and the Economy of Espionage
Tom Gill
Spain’s Left Turn?
Jeff Cohen
Few Democrats Offer Alternatives to War-Weary Voters
Dean Baker
Corporate Debt Scares
Gary Leupp
The Khashoggi Affair and and the Anti-Iran Axis
Russell Mokhiber
Sarah Chayes Calls on West Virginians to Write In No More Manchins
Clark T. Scott
Acclimated Behaviorisms
Kary Love
Evolution of Religion
Colin Todhunter
From GM Potatoes to Glyphosate: Regulatory Delinquency and Toxic Agriculture
Binoy Kampmark
Evacuating Nauru: Médecins Sans Frontières and Australia’s Refugee Dilemma
Marvin Kitman
The Kitman Plan for Peace in the Middle East: Two Proposals
Weekend Edition
October 12, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Becky Grant
My History with Alexander Cockburn and The Financial Future of CounterPunch
Paul Street
For Popular Sovereignty, Beyond Absurdity
Nick Pemberton
The Colonial Pantsuit: What We Didn’t Want to Know About Africa
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Summer of No Return
Jeff Halper
Choices Made: From Zionist Settler Colonialism to Decolonization
Gary Leupp
The Khashoggi Incident: Trump’s Special Relationship With the Saudi Monarchy
Andrew Levine
Democrats: Boost, Knock, Enthuse
Barbara Kantz
The Deportation Crisis: Report From Long Island
Doug Johnson
Nate Silver and 538’s Measurable 3.5% Democratic Bias and the 2018 House Race
Gwen Carr
This Stops Today: Seeking Justice for My Son Eric Garner
Robert Hunziker
Peak Carbon Emissions By 2020, or Else!
Arshad Khan
Is There Hope on a World Warming at 1.5 Degrees Celsius?
David Rosen
Packing the Supreme Court in the 21stCentury
Brian Cloughley
Trump’s Threats of Death and Destruction
Joel A. Harrison
The Case for a Non-Profit Single-Payer Healthcare System
Ramzy Baroud
That Single Line of Blood: Nassir al-Mosabeh and Mohammed al-Durrah
Zhivko Illeieff
Addiction and Microtargeting: How “Social” Networks Expose us to Manipulation
ADRIAN KUZMINSKI
What is Truth?
Michael Doliner
Were the Constitution and the Bill of Rights a Mistake?
Victor Grossman
Cassandra Calls
Ralph E. Shaffer
Could Kavanaugh’s Confirmation Hearing Ended Differently?
Vanessa Cid
Our Everyday Family Separations
Walaa Al Ghussein
The Risks of Being a Journalist in Gaza
Ron Jacobs
Betrayal and Treachery—The Extremism of Moderates
James Munson
Identity Politics and the Ruling Class
P. Sainath
The Floods of Kerala: the Bank That Went Under…Almost
Ariel Dorfman
How We Roasted Donald Duck, Disney’s Agent of Imperialism
Joe Emersberger
Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno’s Assault on Human Rights and Judicial Independence
Ed Meek
White Victimhood: Brett Kavanaugh and the New GOP Brand
Andrew McLean, MD
A Call for “Open Space”
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail