In the Washington Times our friend Steve Hayward (author of The Real Jimmy Carter) demolishes Chuck Todd’s recent comparison of George Bush to Jimmy Carter: “Jimmy’s party.” In this context Steve has an important and timely point to make:
Mr. Todd has it exactly backward. Mr. Kerry is the product of a Democratic Party that has been fully Carterized, and if the voters grasp this in a time of war, it will be Mr. Kerry who faces a Carter-style humiliation at the polls. At first this seems a paradox, as most Democratic presidential candidates in recent years, such as Bill Clinton, tried to avoid any association with Mr. Carter and his ignominious presidency. Mr. Carter’s receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002, which was explicitly awarded as an anti-American gesture by the Nobel committee, has capped his long campaign to redeem his image, and it is now safe for Democrats to be seen in public with him. Indeed, he appeared on the same platform with Mr. Kerry at a recent Democratic Party unity dinner in Washington. Mr. Carter is likely to step up his public profile as we get closer to November.
While Mr. Carter may have been a pariah in the Democratic Party for a long time, the same principles that made a hash of his presidency have become the core of today’s liberalism. And the central principle, as applied to foreign policy at least, can be summarized in one sentence: Whereas Ronald Reagan and his successors believe in peace through strength, Mr. Carter and his successors believe in peace through talk.
That force is always to be used as a last resort has been a familiar trope of all leaders for a very long time. Mr. Reagan himself used the phrase repeatedly in his campaigns for office. What is important to understand about liberalism Carter- and Kerry-style is that as a practical matter the last resort would never arrive. There is always one more negotiation to attempt, one more U.N. resolution to propose, one more appeal for further “talks.”
We devoutly hope that Kerry will not have the opportunity to prove the acuity of Steve’s analysis.