Whatever considerations might have been behind the criticisms, surprise certainly should not have been among them.
Soon after the 2006 elections in Palestine, to which Carter was a close witness, and the fairness and openness of which he had testified, the former president told CNN’s Larry King, “If you sponsor an election or promote democracy and freedom around the world, then when people make their own decision about their leaders, I think that all the governments should recognize that administration and let them form their government.” He went on to tell the talk show host and his sizable audience that “there’s a good chance” that Hamas, which has operated a network of successful social and charitable organizations for Palestinians, could become a nonviolent organization. There is little doubt that these observations were not designed to curry political favor at home or abroad.
Palestine is a long way from Washington, DC, to be sure (although not as distant as once thought), and conversations with the most militant advocates of the Palestinian cause in 2008 may seem a far cry from a fight over federally funded water projects in the United States three decades before, but when talking about Jimmy Carter, it is no stretch whatsoever.
Jimmy Carter has never shied away from controversy; in fact, he seems to welcome it. He is also not afraid to tackle the toughest of issues, regardless of the political consequences, and never has been. And, frankly, as one who once worked for Carter and who has tremendous admiration and affection for him still, I have come to the conclusion that sometimes he just doesn’t give a damn what people think of him, his words, or his actions.
Over the course of a late January weekend in 2007, on the thirtieth anniversary of Jimmy Carter’s inauguration as our 39th president, a few hundred people—including President and Mrs.