Monday, May 21, 2007

Why I'm Glad to Live in Alabama, Part 1

1. I no longer reside in the state which gave us Jimmy Carter.

I'm no fan of Jimmy Carter, especially when it comes to his political decisions. Habitat for Humanity is a great thing, and I'll credit where it's due, but Jimmy Carter has lost me with the things he's said in the last 10 years.

Most recently, he said that George Bush's administration is "the worst in history." Really?

I would like to point the former President to a couple examples in history, most notably the Warren G. Harding administration. But, I think President Carter could stand to hold a mirror up to himself for a second. When he left office, American power was at perhaps its lowest ebb since 1914. I view the Carter presidency as a failure to act. He seems to me a man who cannot translate the knowledge of what is right into the actions that must follow therefrom.

On the positive side, however, Carter reminds me of some pretty good literature. His is the wisdom of Tolkein's Denethor. He also reminds me of a poet I studied this semester. If any of ya'll have read Wallace Stevens, perhaps you will allow me to quote some lines that remind me Carter.

From "Sunday Morning"

We live in an old chaos of the sun,
Or old dependency of day and night,
Or island solitude, unsponsored, free,
Of that wide water, inescapable.
Deer walk upon our mountains, and the quail
Whistle about us their spontaneous cries;
Sweet berries ripen in the wilderness;
And, in the isolation of the sky,
At evening, casual flocks of pigeons make
Ambiguous undulations as they sink,
Downward to darkness, on extended wings.

Well, it turns out that Carter didn't intend to criticize Bush personally, but rather intended his remarks at "the administration."

This clarification strikes me as odd. I have not been aware of this administration being inept--the main criticism of our government in the last years is that it is doing the wrong thing. Invading Iraq was wrong. Taxcuts are wrong.

To judge this administration is to judge, I think, the rightness or wrongness of its goals. The Bush Presidency has been all about big things (which is odd and needs its own post). I am not aware that the Bush administration is governing in a manner less apt than prior administrations--the problem is not how good the administration is at governing but rather is that the adminstration is governing towards the wrong things.

And I think almost all of us would agree that George W. Bush has a lot to do with the things towards which his government strives. Unless or course Dick Cheney is behind it...

If Carter really meant to say that the administration is bungling and inept, he is making a criticism which does not seem to have much basis. If, however, he is really talking about the goals Bush is setting, he should not have backed down. One way or another, the "clarification" has made things worse.

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