Pulpit Politics

Jimmy Carter did it again.

The former president used Coretta Scott King's funeral to attack President Bush, who was sitting right behind him as Carter spoke.

Carter used the Kennedy-Johnson era wiretapping of Dr. Martin Luther King and his wife as an illustration of why President Bush is wrong in his terrorist surveillance program.

This came just one day before news broke that an American citizen has been assisting Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the terror butcher of Iraq.

So here we've got at least one instance of an American citizen terrorist aiding one of the big figures in terror directed against Americans, and Jimmy Carter is standing there comparing efforts to listen to that guy's phone calls — completely legitimate in my mind — with the J. Edgar Hoover era wiretapping of the leading figure of the American civil rights movement.

If I were Dr. King's relatives I think I'd be upset. Wiretapping Dr. King was clearly wrong. Listening on conversations from or to an American assisting the guy killing Americans every day is clearly right.

How could Jimmy Carter join those two things in, of all places, the funeral service for Mrs. King?

How could he?

No, how could he not?

Jimmy Carter has been in a footrace with history since he left office over 20 years ago. He has been desperately trying to make Americans forget what a ruinous presidency his was.

Anybody who lived through it knows the truth, but Carter doesn't care about them. They can't be won over.

He's going for the younger people, the ones who either weren't alive when Carter was president or are too young to remember.

Carter hammers nails trying to convince those young people he's a good guy with nothing but the best intentions. He writes books about our endangered values. He oversees elections in faraway places. All good works, and all designed to put that failed presidency out of mind.

Remember when he got the Nobel Prize a couple years ago as a direct rebuke to Bush and the impending Iraq war? The Nobel Prize Committee made it clear they wanted the prize to be a condemnation of Bush, and Carter accepted it in that spirit.

Carter is trying to establish his credentials by tearing down one of his successors.

It used to be embarrassing. Now it's turned ugly.

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