As Jimmy Carter portrays conservatives as violent racists, it’s worth remembering Carter’s own history of racial demagoguery. Carter campaigned for governor of Georgia as a self-proclaimed â€œredneck,â€ in an era when that word had pronounced racial connotations. His campaign distributed a photo of his gubernatorial opponent Carl Sanders being embraced by black basketball players to a Ku Klux Klan rally. Carter pledged to invite Alabama’s infamous segregationist governor George Wallace to Georgia if elected. He once said he was â€œproudâ€ to have the equally segregationist Lester Maddox as his lieutenant governor following the 1970 election, calling Governor Axe-handle â€œthe essence of the Democratic Partyâ€ (which he was).
In 1972, Carter promised â€“ then broke his promise â€“ to the newly crippled Wallace to nominate or second him at the Democratic National Convention in Miami, jumping at the opportunity to give the nomination speech for Henry â€œScoopâ€ Jackson (and the national exposure that would bring; see Obama, Barack).
According to his son, Jack Carter, the man from Plains had his surrogates lobby aggressively to become ultra-leftist George McGovernâ€™s vice president. By 1976, “Jimmy Who” had traded his “redneck” status for a pose as the “Born Again” exemplar of the New South.Â (His religiosity poll-tested well. He actually won more Southern Baptist votes than Ronald Reagan in 1980.)
Since the country’s near-unanimous repudiation of his presidency, Carter has lashed out at evangelical Christians, conservatives, the late Pope John Paul II, “Neoconservatives,” and anyone else who — well, everyone who isn’t a Southern “progressive” Baptist who admires Liberation Theology. In his 2005 book, Our Endangered Values, he described “fundamentalists” as people who believe “they are right and that anyone who contradicts them is ignorant and possibly evil.” They tend “to demagogue emotional issues.” Moreover, “They are often angry and sometimes resort to verbal or even physical abuse against those who interfere with the implementation of their agenda.”
That sounds very much like the Obama administration’s race-baiting surrogates, including Jimmy Carter, who was willing to stoke those fires when it worked to his advantage.