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Another "I" Word: Irrelevant


When White House spokesman, Tony Fratto, called Jimmy Carter's comments made on Saturday to an Arkansas newspaper "increasingly irrelevant," he was not only impugning the intellectual integrity of a former president, but one who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002. As a private citizen, Mr. Carter is entitled to say what he will about anyone in office without having to field accusations of "reckless personal criticism" from anyone on the president's staff. As Mr. Carter rightly suggests, the only thing he leads now is the Carter Center." (AP)

Obviously, the former president was quoted out of context. As you recall, his remarks dealt specifically with foreign policy. He was comparing the foreign policies of George W. Bush with that of Richard Nixon. No one can deny that Mr. Nixon was an expert marksman when it came to foreign policy. On the other hand, Dick Cheney amply demonstrates the kind of marksmanship at which this administration excels. Clearly, there was nothing "reckless" about anything Mr. Carter said, especially about the erosion of religious freedom, and separation of church and state... What is "reckless" is the attempt to bully former presidents, and anyone who publicly disagrees with this president, and his administration.

Moreover, Mr. Bush's spokesperson may not realize it, but when he denounces comments made by a Nobel Peace Prize winner, he implicitly condemns the committee that awarded him his prize. But, what the hey, why not challenge the Nobel Committee -- while they're at it; this administration has already challenged the Geneva Conventions, the Magna Carta, and Habeas Corpus, too. This is a higher octane hubris we're seeing, and one that may yet outlast the Ever-ready Battery.

Jimmy Carter has every right to express his opinion as a private citizen, or as a former president. There is absolutely no reason for him to back down from saying what he thinks. If anything, Mr. Bush's people should retreat, and issue a formal apology for his insolence. The unmitigated arrogance of this administration never fails to amaze one.

That the White House would dismiss observations made by a Nobel Peace Prize winner as irrelevant should come as no surprise in light of their actions. After all, they increasingly demonstrate they consider the concept of peace irrelevant, too.

Follow Jayne Lyn Stahl on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jaynelynstahl