Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Jimmy Carter--Incompetent & Nasty

Ron Kessler notes that Jimmy Carter didn't just start being obnoxious and stupid when he got involved in the Middle East---according to the Secret Service & GSA & Air Force One & other White House functionaries like ushers, he was a persnickety silly little micro-managing engineer-manque.

Aside from the link above, I had a couple of weird experiences with the Carter regime. During a presidential visit to Saudi Arabia while I was senior Political Officer for Internal Affairs, I had an interesting window on just how screwy the Presidential caravan was. While in Jidda, Carter was staying in a Royal PaIace & after he had finished & was on his way to Air Force One, Ambassador West's Secretary, Betty Barger, was double-checking the Presidential living quarters for a last check-out and found the PRESIDENTIAL BRIEFING BOOK for the entire Middle East trip, JC's personal copy, sitting on a bed table next to his bed!!! The briefing book had all JC's talking points for his Saudi, Egyptian [his next stop was Aswan with Anwar Sadat] and Israel all in the same large book. And the silly fool had left his personal copy behind in the bedroom!

Betty managed to get through cordons of Saudi security, Secret Service Security, and get to Air Force One just before wheels-up.
The whole thing reminded her of Inspector Clouseau, or Peter Sellers on any number of his nutjob acting roles, in the way Carter [who was close to Ambassador West, former Gov. of South Carolina who was the first governor to support him in '74 & got the Saudi Ambassador job as payback] handled himself during the entire visit. Very eccentric & prickly. And incompetent in certain respects.

Of course, we professonal FSOs in the Embassy had a great time hypothesizing what the Saudis would have done with the entire Presidential Briefing Book were it to have fallen into Saudi Intelligence's hands. First of all, the Saudis would have thought that the president had left it behind on purpose, as a diversionary move to throw them off the scent, because the Carter Briefing Books were so banal & simple-minded & straight-forward that the conspiracy-minded Saudis would not believe it possible for the Americans to be so naive.

Or stupid, as Carter was/is.

A further personal note: I was dating Cy Vance's personal assistant Elva Morgan, who was close to Susan Clough, Carter's Personal Secretary mentioned in the link above. Elva told me that Clough was a devotee, as Carter's staff in general was, of an institution called The National Spiritual Science Center. It was on 16th Street & I visited once & got a "reading" through the woman who ran the Center. Actually, the woman had some second-sight capabilities & recorded our session on a cassette tape, which I must have lost over the years. But she did come up with some interesting predictions as I recall. I don't think JC & his wife Rosalyn ever dabbled in spiritualism, but his staff did. My wife was a Carter White House invitee on several occasions & got her sister a job working in a new office called Ethnic Affairs. The beginning of Democrat identity politics.

One final episode about Carter: I left the State Dept to work for John Anderson in '80 as his Middle East Advisor. While in the Anderson Campaign [I had also dabble in Howard Baker's abortive effort, and recall vaguely seeing Fred Dalton Thompson in the Baker HQ on North Capitol St]. During the campaign, it became apparent that Jimmy Carter was reviled by the American Jewish Community. I had access to the money people in the Anderson Campaign & was told by a senior money guy that "70% of the contributions came from Jews or Jewish organizations [Ed Asner was a big Anderson supporter in Hollywood, I recall.]

My theory is that back then, when AIPAC was in its heyday, Teddy Kennedy was induced by the Lobby to run on JC's left while John Anderson ran on his right, pincering Carter & trying to punish him for what the Israelis called his zany moves at Camp David. Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg, who had been Jacob Javits rabbi & sadly died last year, told me much of the same thing when I met him at Columbia. Hertzberg was a big Anderson supporter and hooked my up with Wolf Gelman, who ran the Jewish Theological Seminary in Morningside Heights, who was head of the Rabbinical Assembly, the chief organization of Conservative Jews, as opposed to Orthodox or Reformed Jews. Gelman himself was a free-thinker and showed me a lot of Kabbalistic Talismans which the Seminary kept under lock and key. I had a bizarre "spiritual zap" like the Hindu shock one gets [I forget the name] when Gelman allowed me to pick up a couple of the revered Talismans.

But I digress.

Carter was far ahead of Reagan when the campaign started and I remember one debate where Jimmy scored all the debating points and Reagan came across as a natural leader and not the crazy-man bomb-thrower who was going to set off WWIII.

Carter was and will always be an engineer, always looking at the notes and never hearing the music. Petty, meddlesome, a detail-man as Kessler portrays him in the link above---Carter never got the big picture, though he always thought and still does, that he is a world statesman.

In his own mind. And the "mind" of Hezbollah & Hamas!!!

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