The Current Crisis

Canoist Without a Paddle

All glory to Jimmy Carter, hero of the Anti-American Axis.

By 10.16.02

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Washington -- If anyone has doubted the growth of Anti-Americanism in Europe, their doubts surely were silenced when the Nobel Prize Committee gave its "Peace Prize" to Jimmy Carter. For over twenty years every American who loves this country and takes pride in its achievements has avoided mentioning Jimmy as president, perhaps as carpenter, perhaps as peanut farmer, but not as president, and surely not as diplomat or peacemaker. Practically every country he leaves after his peace posturing he leaves a corrupt despotism or perhaps at best a corrupt oligarchy.

He was the worst president of the Twentieth Century. After him members of the Harding family could again hold their heads high. He followed President Gerald Ford in office, which should not have been a hard act to follow. When he handed the keys of the White House to that second-rate actor he so preposterously patronized, our economy was so feeble and our status in the world so low that members of the Ford family too could again hold their heads high. A Nobel Peace Prize for Carter? How about conferring a Nobel Prize for Literature on Ford?

Actually, considering Jimmy's pathetic poetry with its little-boy qualities of petulance and self-absorption, the Nobel Committee's next act of anti-Americanism might be to give Jimmy their prize for literature. The Nobel Committee really does seem to have a dispendious contempt for America. Gunnar Berge, the insufferably smug chairman of the Nobel Committee, upon conferring his absurd prize on Carter boasted of it as a "kick in the leg" to the Bush Administration for its resolute approach to the butcher, Saddam Hussein. Berge prides himself as a man of peace, though not many genuine men of peace speak of kicking people in the leg. For that matter not many genuine men of peace are mere poseurs.

What does Berge know about ensuring peace in the world? His committee never conferred a peace prize on Ronald Reagan or on his successor George Bush. Instead in 1990 the Committee raised up a failed Communist dictator, Mikhail Gorbachev, recognizing one of history's great incompetents and ignoring totally America's role in bringing the Cold War to a peaceful conclusion. Or does Berge believe that a reelected Carter could have achieved the irenic effect that Reagan and Bush achieved?

Those two American presidents really did bring peace to the world. Without Ronald Reagan Berge and his countrymen would still be living under the shadow of Soviet tyranny and the daily fear of nuclear holocaust. Bush I stopped Saddam's aggression, dealt sensitively with the broken Soviet regime and the humbled Russian government, and assured a new era of peace in the world. That he tried Berge's revered "moderate point of view" with the defeated Saddam is a testimonial to how flexible Americans can be and how futile such flexibility is in dealing with a Saddam or a Hitler.

In the 1930s one can see Berge giving Winston Churchill a "kick in the leg" and conferring his Peace Prize on Neville Chamberlain. The whole history of the Nobel Peace Prize is a history of placing appeasement on a pedestal. There have been rare exceptions, perhaps when it gave its award to genuine men of war such as Yasser Arafat and North Vietnam's Le Duc Tho -- though in their cases they are men of surreptitious war. Both treated the Nobel Committee as an element in world progress just like them.

But to return to Jimmy Carter -- he has always been a fraud and an opportunist. His prey has always been the liberal sap. In running for the presidency in 1976 he gave these as his credentials: "I am a Southerner and an American. I am a farmer, an engineer, a father and a husband, a Christian, a politician and a former governor, a planner, a businessman, a nuclear physicist, a naval officer, a canoist, and among other things, a lover of Bob Dylan's songs and Dylan Thomas' poetry. " That colossal statement of balder and dash appeared in James David Barber's nonsensical tome, Presidential Greatness, where Barber explained that he expected Carter to be a great president in the rank of Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and John F. Kennedy.

Now the Nobel Committee has reinforced Carter's claim to greatness, but we Americans know better. He confirms what we all know about political prizes. They go to political charlatans.

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About the Author
R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. is the founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator. He is the author of The Death of Liberalism, published by Thomas Nelson Inc. His previous books include the New York Times bestseller Boy Clinton: the Political Biography; The Impeachment of William Jefferson Clinton; The Liberal Crack-Up; The Conservative Crack-Up; Public Nuisances; The Future that Doesn't Work: Social Democracy's Failure in Britain; Madame Hillary: The Dark Road to the White House; The Clinton Crack-Up; and After the Hangover: The Conservatives' Road to Recovery.