A Jimmy Thing
06-02-2009
I always find it hard to pass up an item that takes me back to the heat of the 2008 presidential campaign. In this case, it is a Politico.com piece detailing former President Jimmy Carter’s disappointment with recent Obama Administration national security decisions on the detainee abuse photos and torture/enhanced interrogation techniques. While Carter did not sharply criticize President Obama, he made it clear that he is unhappy with the decisions.
 
This took me back to April of 2008, when Carter flirted with an early official endorsement of the Obama campaign, just as the former president prepared to meet with representatives of Hamas during a trip to Syria. At the time, I wrote a series of posts on the delicate dance performed by the Obama campaign, as it tried to avoid offending progressives who appreciate Carter’s record on human rights, while also keeping sufficient distance from him to undercut Republicans who were salivating at the prospect of painting Obama as the second coming of President Carter. You can track back through the posts starting with this one (and here is a bonus Carter/McCain post from June of 2008).
 
In the end, the Obama campaign seemed to achieve the balance it sought, but I remember finding their contortions at the time to be a fascinating study in political custom and intra-party politics. As for the current discontent, the Obama Administration is already well aware that many on the left are unhappy with these decisions. But when you mix in Obama’s pragmatic political streak, and the mixed nature of broader public opinion on the subject, it is pretty clear that Carter’s criticism won’t affect the policy direction in any meaningful way.


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