The Magazine

Jimmy Carter, anti-Semitism, and more.

Nov 1, 2004, Vol. 10, No. 08 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
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Abu Yankee Al-Doodle

Jimmy Carter was on MSNBC's Hardball early last week, ostensibly to promote the new paperback edition of his widely panned 2003 novel, The Hornet's Nest, a Revolutionary War tale set in the Carolinas and Georgia. There's what appears to be a great lot of library-culled research in the book; it was seven years in the writing, Carter notes in his acknowledgments. So Hardball host Chris Matthews was curious whether the former president--"as an historian now and studying the Revolutionary War"--thought there might these days be something especially relevant about that subject. Specifically, about "the Revolutionary War as...[an] insurgency against a powerful British force," Matthews wondered whether President Carter saw "any parallels between the fighting we did on our side and the fighting that is going on in Iraq today?"

In other words: Whaddya think? Is Abu Musab al Zarqawi sorta like George Washington?

In response to which Jimmy Carter--who is just about the most embarrassing American alive, when you get right down to it--replied: Yes.

"One parallel," Mr. Carter began, "is that the Revolutionary War, more than any other war up until recently, has been the most bloody war we've fought." THE SCRAPBOOK can't see how there's any other way to parse this sentence; near as we can tell, the former president is here suggesting that more American soldiers have been killed or wounded in Operation Iraqi Freedom than in any other military engagement since the British surrendered at Yorktown. And we've looked it up: He's right about that--except for the Mexican War, the Korean War, Vietnam, World War I, the Civil War, and World War II.

But wait, there's more. "I think another parallel [with Iraq]," Carter continued, "is that in some ways the Revolutionary War could have been avoided. It was an unnecessary war. Had the British Parliament been a little more sensitive to the colonials' really legitimate complaints and requests the war could have been avoided completely, and of course now we would have been a free country now as is Canada and India and Australia, having gotten our independence in a nonviolent way."

Indeed, both Canada and Australia secured formal legal independence from Great Britain without a single shot being fired: the former in 1982, the latter in 1986. India achieved its freedom even earlier, in 1947, amid a hideous and protracted civil war that killed two million people. But hey, who's counting?

We Report, You Decide

"The president has demanded unquestioning faith from his followers, his staff, his senior aides and his kindred in the Republican Party. Once he makes a decision--often swiftly, based on a creed or moral position--he expects complete faith in its rightness. . . . Bush's intolerance of doubters has, if anything, increased, and few dare to question him now. A writ of infallibility--a premise beneath the powerful Bushian certainty that has, in many ways, moved mountains--is not just for public consumption: it has guided the inner life of the White House."

--Story by Ron Suskind, New York Times Magazine, Sunday, October 17

"Mr. Bush, more than most recent presidents, has tolerated--even encouraged--a constant battle in his administration over how to shape its approach to the world."

--Story by David E. Sanger, New York Times "Week in Review," same day

What Would Lindbergh Do?

The Presbyterian Church (USA) currently has a 24-person delegation touring the Middle East. And one stop they made on October 17 has already caused a bit of controversy: The group visited a prison run by Hezbollah in southern Lebanon and then held a joint press conference with one Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, that terrorist organization's regional capo. Nasrallah used his time before the cameras to denounce President Bush. Presbyterian Elder Ronald Stone then thanked him for it.

"We treasure the precious words of Hezbollah and your expression of goodwill towards the American people," Stone said, referring, remember, to an outfit responsible for the 1983 murder of 241 U.S. Marines in their Beirut barracks. "Also," Stone went on, "we praise your initiative for dialogue and mutual understanding." And "we cherish these statements that bring us closer to you." And--here comes the kicker--"as an elder of our church, I'd like to say that according to my recent experience, relations and conversations with Islamic leaders are a lot easier than dealings and dialogue with Jewish leaders."

Got that? Mr. Stone thinks the head of Hezbollah in southern Lebanon is a more reasonable man than any of those "Jewish leaders" he's previously met.