Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Defending the President

Every season has "big games", but they don't come much bigger than the one my beloved Hawkeyes had last Saturday. The opponent: Ohio State, the venue, Ohio Stadium, which holds 105,000 people, 99% of them pulling for the home team, the hurdle: having to start a freshman quarterback in place of the injured starter. The game was on network TV (even here!), and you'll seldom see a better one. The results? Ohio Sate wins in overtime to get a date at the Rose Bowl. And for Iowa? First the duty of beating Minnesota this Saturday, then find out which bowl they'll be playing in, which takes some guessing because there are more than 30 bowls every year. But only one Rose Bowl. Dang.

Now to this week's subject. I've mentioned before the dubious habit I have of reading the on-line version of the church-owned Deseret News (and that's the correct spelling) from Salt Lake City. It's a way of checking how my opinions compare to other readers whose postings are found by the bucketful every day. I'm in there tooth and nail with my own comments, though I refrain from actual insults against the other posters. I admit that some days it's a fine line.
I'm surprised at some of the folks these conservative, but usually likable, people choose to demonize. Their feelings about President Jimmy Carter, for instance, always leave me wondering how anyone could be so vicious against someone they never met. Now it's true that I've had ungracious things to say about a number of well-known Republicans, with Cheney and Bush heading the list, but gee, Carter left office a full 28 years ago, and has been doing good Christian things ever since even though he's now past 80 years old. He even spoke up to his fellow Baptists insisting that Mormons are Christians, though he didn't have to.
That seems to get him nowhere with the Utah faithful, though I'm sure Carter's no longer trying to win them over. They sneer at him as a peanut farmer though many of them have agricultural backgrounds, and they ignore his formal education in nuclear engineering, obtained in the Navy. And in the tradition of "We only remember each president for ONE thing", there's the Iranian hostage crisis.
Yes, it was 30 years ago, so we can't be expected to remember everything about it. But what I read from the Utah yokels is that Carter was simply too timid to bomb the bejesus out of the Iranians, and that it was only threats from the newly elected Reagan that got the hostages released. It's as if their personal dislike for the man justifies the factual rewriting of history, because both contentions are either silly or totally wrong.
Can you visualize George Bush risking his own prestige to broker a permanent peace between Egypt and Israel? I can't. Nor did I see any of our recent GOP presidents insisting that planning for energy independence was worth some current investment. Reagan, in fact, did the opposite.
But I don't insist that Carter was a great president. He wasn't. Even so, I find him well worth defending.


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