This past Sunday on Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood, viewers were treated to an interview of former President Jimmy Carter conducted by reporter Rita Braver. Most of the subject matter that was covered was fluff, what President Carter does to keep himself busy, trips he’s taken, elections he’s overseen and so forth. Yet, Braver eventually delves into the realm of politics, stressing Carter’s criticism of the Bush administration, but whitewashing over his own shortcomings.
Though the fact that the economy tanked and hostages were held in Iran during President Carter’s term, Braver only mentions that in passing:
"The economy floundered but what really doomed his Presidency was when Iranian radicals took over the US Embassy in Tehran and held dozens of Americans hostage for more than a year."
Floundered is a bit of an understatement to describe the economy under Carter. There was a misery index that reached 20.5 in 1980, the last year of his Presidency, the extended fuel shortages, and it wasn’t the fact that hostages were taken in Iran that doomed his Presidency; it was his utter failure to get them out.
But, it should be noted, that Rita Braver’s husband, Robert Barnett, worked on the Carter campaigns in 1976 and 1980 and has had a role in many other Democratic campaigns.
A transcript of portions relating to current politics and President Carter’s administration follows:
Rita Braver: "President Carter's humanitarian efforts earned him the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002. It was especially sweet because as he said, Jimmy Carter did not leave the White House voluntarily, but now the credibility he's established over the years has been a major factor in propelling his latest book, his 20th by the way, to the top of the best seller lists. The book is called 'Our Endangered Values: America's Moral Crisis."
"You have said that you were a little hesitant, you were a little worried about writing the book."
Jimmy Carter: "Well I did it with some trepidation, some hesitancy."
Rita Braver: "And no wonder, Carter is highly critical of current White House policies, especially the decision to go to war in Iraq."
Jimmy Carter: "Some of the top advisers of President Bush, in my opinion, had a strong inclination to have a war in Iraq even before President Bush was elected."
Rita Braver: "You say, with false and distorted claims this administration misled the US Congress and the American people into believing that Saddam Hussein had somehow been responsible for the dastardly attack on September 11th, umm that's a pretty tough statement."
Jimmy Carter: "Well I don't think there's any doubt that it's a true statement, and I was very careful in the book not ever to criticize President Bush."
Rita Braver: "You do single out Vice President Cheney in your book."
Jimmy Carter: "Well sometimes I think the Vice President has been somewhat careless with the truth, yes."
Rita Braver: "Jimmy Carter is well aware that there are plenty of critiques of his own Presidency. A one term Georgia Governor, he was elected in 1976 in the wake of Watergate and Gerald Ford's pardon of Richard Nixon. As President, Carter engineered the return of the Panama Canal, launched the departments of Energy and Education, forged the SALT II Missile Treaty with the Soviet Union, and presided over the Camp David peace agreement between Israel and Egypt. But, he often seemed ill at ease in the job. The economy floundered but what really doomed his Presidency was when Iranian radicals took over the US Embassy in Tehran and held dozens of Americans hostage for more than a year. Jimmy Carter was defeated by Ronald Reagan in 1980."