Known as a do-nothing President who drifted with the political winds, Carter is an excellent choice for an appearance at the convention. Incumbent President Barack Hussein Obama learned a great deal from Carter, and is now giving the former president due deference. Both presidents managed to change the proverbial question “who's in charge here?” into the simple statement “nobody's in charge here.”
Obama and Carter share very thin skins. Even a moderate suggestion that the president might be off-target produces bristling and condemnation, although Obama has been more successful at using his Justice Department to silence critics and reward loyal disciples. Many Democrats have joined Republicans in proclaiming Carter near the top of the list of worst presidents. He has the clear title of worst ex-president ever. Obama is trying to steal both of those crowns, but he wants to be sure that people know he owes it all to his role model.
Carter did better on job creation. His record was miserable, but he places tenth or eleventh in that area among the past twelve presidents. Obama holds the title of worst job-producer. Carter showed small gains in job-creation, while Obama has lost far more jobs than were created in his first three and a half years. Carter did everything right to make himself a one-term president, and Obama is working hard to follow his lead.
Carter at least waited until he left office to alienate an important part of the liberal Democratic base. Obama has not been so circumspect. Jewish voters clung to the liberal wing of the Democratic Party and Obama by 78% in 2008. After slighting Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu while spouting moral equivalencies between the Palestinian thugs and Israel, Obama's support is now down to around 64% or 65%.
In the past few weeks, the Obama administration realized it was bleeding votes from its very important Jewish constituency. Obama began what has been called a charm offensive to win them back. He actually spoke respectfully with Netanyahu, and promised more aid to Israel in light of the current situation in Iran. It was having a small effect right up to the announcement that Carter would be speaking at the Democratic convention.
National Jewish Democratic Council President David Harris had this to say about the Carter invitation: “When it comes to Israel and the Middle East, President Carter has unfortunately embarrassed himself—as his analysis has been stubbornly wrong, harmful to the peace process, and getting worse all the time.” What goodwill Obama was gaining was lost almost overnight. Before Obama became the official head of his party, smarter and cooler heads determined that Carter should not be invited to the 2008 convention to speak or as an honored guest. Nothing has changed much since then, except that an anti-Israel speaker seems to appeal to The One.
Obama has also followed Carter's lead in refusing to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's proper capital. Pandering to the so-called Palestinians is a Carter-Obama shared value. Though he has not outright endorsed it, Obama clearly favors Carter's view that Israel should seek peace by withdrawing to its pre-1967 borders. There are those who suggest that if anything, Obama is even more anti-Israel and more pro-Arab than Carter. And at least Carter never declared America to be “one of the world's largest Muslim nations.”
All things considered, it seems to me that Obama is not intentionally challenging his Jewish base. It seems more like another example of his complete tone-deafness. If he wanted to honor an ex-president from his own party, having Carter sit in the gallery would have been more than sufficient. But in a speaker's list which includes Sandra Fluke (the Georgetown Law student who can't afford $7 a month for birth control), and Elizabeth Warren (non-Native American Native-American), I suppose nothing should surprise me. But then, I'm not Jewish.