Just when you thought Jimmy Carter couldn't possibly embarrass himself or the country once again, he manages to do exactly that. He recently allowed himself to be a useful idiot to yet another terrorist group, this time Hamas.
First he met with Nasser al-Shaer, head of the Palestinian education system. This is the guy who teaches Palestinian children that Jews descended from pigs and dogs.
Then he put a wreath on Yasser Arafat's grave. Arafat was simply the father of terrorism as we know it today, but Jimmy still considers him a "very dear friend." If that wasn't enough, he went on to visit, with hugs, kisses and handshakes, Khaled Mashaal, the head of Hamas and now the guest of Syria. This monster proudly claims responsibility for the organizing of numerous suicide bombings, killing many innocent Israeli and American civilians.
While he is causing this mess, he claims to be simply a private citizen concerned only about peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. It doesn't matter to him that Hamas is considered an international terrorist organization by the United States, Israel and the European Union.
Carter, in his self-righteous, ego-driven, morally superior image of himself, ignores all State Department requests not to proceed with the trip and does what he pleases.
He is utterly clueless when it comes to being used as a tool by our enemies and claims he does only good and causes no harm.
This is not how our enemy sees it. Instead of keeping Hamas and other terrorist groups isolated, his visit gives these goons legitimacy. Immediately after his meetings, Hamas declared, "Political isolation by the American administration has begun to crumble." Carter is still bitter that the American people weren't smart enough to re-elect him to another four years. He still can't accept the fact that he is probably one of the worst presidents in American history and his constant efforts to polish his legacy only make him look worse.
This column can't begin to list all his failings, but I must mention a few. He was only elected in the first place because people wanted change. He barely won over Gerald Ford in 1976 by 50.1 to 48.0 percent and 297 electoral votes to Ford's 240. If only people knew what they were in for during the next four years of his "leadership," they would have elected Ford by the same huge margin that they elected Ronald Reagan.
Reagan won 91 percent of the electoral vote while Carter won only six states and the District of Columbia.
During his term, he decimated our military readiness. In his first month alone, he cut the defense budget by $6 billion and continued to cut throughout his tenure.
We had to live through double-digit inflation, 7+ percent unemployment, high interest rates with the prime rate hitting 21.5 percent and mortgage rates hitting 18 percent.
We had fuel shortages, unprecedented Soviet expansion with no fear of any consequence, and he saw fit to punish the Soviets for their invasion of Afghanistan by choosing not to participate in the 1980 Moscow Olympics.
The only people who were punished by this act were our athletes, who had sacrificed and trained for years to represent our country.
Oh yes, he turned his back on our most solid ally in the Middle East, the Shah of Iran, allowing a bunch of crazed Mullahs to take over the country.
We were rewarded by our embassy being seized, our citizens held as hostages for more than 14 months and our embarrassing rescue attempt that killed several of our soldiers.
We were the laughingstock of the world.
There were, however, some presidential firsts. He was the first and only president interviewed by Playboy. He was the first president attacked by a rabbit. This happened in April 1979. The only good thing that happened during his reign was that he was unable to appoint anyone to the Supreme Court.
Remember when we thought the crazy Carter was his brother, Billy? Boy, were we wrong.
As for his latest trip, Rep. Sue Myrick, R-N.C., had the right idea when she wanted the State Department to revoke Carter's passport. If only this could have been done while he was still overseas.
White House spokesman Tony Fratello hit the nail on the head when he said that Carter had become "increasingly irrelevant with these kind of actions." Even the Democrats are embarrassed by him. Rep. Howard Berman, D-Calif., chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said, "Jimmy Carter's view of the forces at work in the Middle East and how he likes to attribute blame and responsibility is so warped, to my way of thinking, that I'm skeptical of any initiative he undertakes."
So Jimmy, go back to doing the only good thing you ever did; build some more houses.
Tom Sears is a professor of accounting at Hartwick College in Oneonta. He can be reached at SearsT@hartwick.edu. His column appears every other week.