Given that Mika Brzezinski's late father Zbigniew Brzezinski served as Jimmy Carter's national security adviser, you knew that Morning Joe would go out of its way to celebrate Carter on the occasion of his becoming the oldest living former President.
And sure enough, on Friday's show, Joe Scarborough glorified Carter as an "extraordinary human being, a wonderful man," working in a gratuitous swipe at President Trump by adding, "just a great contrast with, unfortunately, what we're struggling through right now." Scarborough commended Carter for Camp David, and even claimed that his support for human rights contributed to the fall of the Iron Curtain.
But the show took things an unpardonable step too far by absolving Carter of his multiple failures. First, Scarborough claimed that the Iranian hostage crisis and the oil crisis were "beyond his control." A bit later, Scarborough claimed that Carter's 1980 loss to Reagan wasn't due to his own failed leadership, but to Democrats' past mistakes that "fell on his shoulders." Poor Jimmy.
The Iranian crisis and the oil crisis were "beyond his control?" Really? The Iranian hostages were released the day that President Ronald Reagan assumed office, demonstrating that strong leadership could make all the difference. As to the oil crisis, Carter based his misguided policies on totally false assumptions, including the claims that oil and gas reserves were "running out," that within a few years "demand would overtake production," and that “we can’t substantially increase our domestic production.” Wrong, wrong, and wrong.
And Carter's 489-49 Electoral College thumping was due not to Dems' past mistakes, but to Carter's own weak leadership and pessimistic view of America. The country was eager for Ronald Reagan's bold affirmation of America's greatness.
Finally, Jon Meacham defended Carter's infamous "malaise" speech, claiming that "in a lot of division of the moment, we're seeing a manifestation of the forces that he bluntly worried about." Translation: the Prophet Jimmy foretold the rise of terrible Trump!
Note: Morning Joe began the segment with a clip of Carter's 2015 appearance on the show. Predictably, the "wonderful" man was blaming Israel in general and Netanyahu in particular for the failure of the peace process. Not surprising from a man who accepted millions in Arab oil money for the Carter Center, and wrote a book scurrilously accusing Israel of "apartheid."
Here's the transcript.
6:01 am EDT
JIMMY CARTER: The new Netanyahu government has almost completely rejected any two-state solution. The two-state solution is one that the United States and all the other nations in the world endorse and accept, except for Israel. And the United States is basically -- has basically relinquished its previous preeminence as a trusted mediator.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Former President Jimmy Carter discussing Middle East peace policy on Morning Joe. That was back in 2015. And the reason we begin there today -- at the age of 94 and 172 days, Carter becomes the longest-living president in US history today.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: And just really quickly about Jimmy Carter, here's a man again, an extraordinary human being, a wonderful man. Just a great contrast with, unfortunately, what we're struggling through right now as a nation. But here's somebody who was the only president in our lifetime to bring Middle East peace.
SCARBOROUGH: The president that opened, actually opened diplomatic relations to China 40 years ago as you, Mika, and your family know so well. And also a man who championed human rights. Human rights leading into the 1980s when that call not only from Jimmy Carter and later Ronald Reagan and the Pope and Margaret Thatcher and others actually eventually led to the fall of the Iron Curtain.
. . .
Jimmy Carter, Jimmy Carter, obviously defeated in 1980. There was an Iranian hostage crisis, obviously quite a few oil shocks, many things beyond his control. I would suggest, looking back historically, you actually had 20, 30 years of excesses that the Democratic party had brought, overreaches, that all seemed to fall on the shoulders of Jimmy Carter in that 1980 election.
. . .
JON MEACHAM: I just happened to read the other day, because it's the kind of thing that I do to pass the time. I reread his "Crisis of Confidence" speech. But it's actually an interesting document. And if people have this kind of caricatured view, should take a look at it. He was talking about national will, he was talking about our devotion to each other, to the national experiment. And we're seeing, in a lot of the division of the moment, we're seeing a manifestation of the kind of forces that he bluntly worried about.
SCARBOROUGH: Yep. And was, of course, right.