aired Aug. 22, 2015 on Dave’s Gone By. Youtube clip: http://youtu.be/yPTkGQHGmUU
Shalom, Dammit! This is Rabbi Sol Solomon with a Rabbinical Reflection for the week of August 23, 2015.
Two weeks ago, 90-year-old former president Jimmy Carter announced that he was battling an advanced stage of cancer—or, as Jewish people call it (whispers) cancer. Snipped from his liver was a tumor, but they also found badness elsewhere, which is not surprising since both of Carter’s parents, his two sisters, and his brother all died of pancreatic you-know-what.
Jimmy still has his 87-year-old wife, Rosalynn, who says she will be “right there with him” throughout his treatment. So will the town of Plains, Georgia, and a lot of Americans who remember Carter as one of the smartest, most honest, and most decent of men to occupy the oval office.
My feelings are a mite more mixed, however. Just because Carter was a mensch doesn’t mean he was a good President. In fact, up until George W. Bush, he was the worst Commander in Chief in a hundred years. And considering that crop included Richard Nixon and Warren G. Harding, that’s saying something.
In case you weren’t around from 1977 to 1981, what you missed was the recession, the oil crisis, the hostage crisis, the Cold War, and the confidence crisis. You know your President is a bona fide schlemiel when he has to go on television to tell everyone, “It’s not me, it’s you. Have a little faith.” Faith is hard to come by when you’re idling at the gas station for two hours on odd and even days, or when you can’t find a job to pay what gasoline costs, or you’re turning your thermostat to 50 because the Mullahs at OPEC want you to.
And speaking of the Arabs, the Carter years were also, of course, the years of the Ayatollah Khomeini. Fifty-two American hostages were taken prisoner as part of the Iranian Revolution. I suppose we should be grateful all the hostages survived. If they were captured now, Isis would cut their limbs off and rape the stumps. Still, these Americans remained in captivity for a year and a half, until Ronald Reagan made backroom deals to have them released on the first day of his presidency.
Until then, Jimmy Carter had three responses to the Iranian hostage crisis: He barricaded himself in his office for a hundred days, because as any eight-year-old knows, if you hide in the closet, nobody knows you’re there, and all the bad stuff goes away. His second tactic was to wear sweaters, because that’ll show those big bad oil sheiks we can live without heat. And finally, he sent helicopters to try a rescue mission—and they all crashed in the desert.
It was right about then America stopped laughing at Billy Carter and turned her woeful eyes on his older brother. If Watergate was a cancer on the Presidency, Jimmy Carter was a herpes all over it.
Still, lousy as Carter’s term was, I would still want to respect the man. After all, he brokered an impossible deal between Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat to create a small piece of peace in the Middle East. It truly was and remains an unbelievable, wonderful, and, alas, one-of-a-kind event in that region. And yet, can peanut boy leave well enough alone?
No, he spends the last few years bleeding through his sleeve for the poor, poor Palestinians. He writes a damn book with the inflammatory title, “Palestine: Peace, not Apartheid,” equating Israel with racist South Africa—even though the Palestinians are demanding land that belongs to Israel, land Israel annexed after being attacked, land that should be for Jews and Israeli citizens because the Arabs have a zillion other places to live.
Carter tries to play both sides of the fence. He sometimes makes nice-nice to Israel, saying he doesn’t support a boycott of the country over its policies. But then he turns around and chastises Eretz Yisroel for the way she conducts a war against an enemy that’s lobbing rockets in her backyard.
Like so many liberals and misinformed do-gooders, Jimmy Carter loves to invent a moral equivalency when there isn’t one. “Both Israel and Hamas are equally wrong and share equal blame,” which is not true; and let’s harp on Israel but be really gentle with the Arabs because we don’t want to make them mad. After all, Islam, the religion of peace, blows a ton of shit up, peacefully.
My main point is: considering his failure at almost every aspect of domestic and foreign leadership, and how he was humiliated by the Ayatollah—a guy who looked like Sean Connery wearing a microwavable heat wrap on his head—Jimmy Carter has as much business telling Israel what to do about the Muslims, as Michelle Duggar has telling the Pritzkers how to raise children. Of all people, Jimmy Carter should be the last one to believe you can reason with radicals, bargain with bullies, and mollify murderers.
After all, as we speak, Jimmy Carter’s body is being invaded by cancer cells that mean him only harm. Should the president’s doctor say, “Well, it’s not right to kill these invaders; it’s your fault for having a desirable host they want to live in. But tell you what. Why don’t you sacrifice so you can live in harmony with your cancer. Let them take your pancreas, your liver, your balls and your bones, and you can live side by side. And they promise never ever ever to move into your blood. Or least not for a week or two. Whaddya say?”
I say, “Jimmy Carter, you’ve done some good in this world, so I don’t wish you prolonged suffering. Still, if you had to get the big C, couldn’t you have gotten it in your mouth?”
This has been a Rabbinical Reflection from Rabbi Sol Solomon, Temple Sons of Bitches, in Great Neck, New York.
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