Bad news about Jimmy Carter

August 12, 2015 • 4:34 pm

This came through my CNN news feed, and it’s saddening.

Former President Jimmy Carter says, “Recent liver surgery revealed that I have cancer that now is in other parts of my body.”

Carter, 90, had a “small mass” removed from his liver earlier this month. At the time, he received a prognosis for a full recovery.

Carter said he will receive treatment at Emory University in Atlanta.

Say what you will about Carter’s presidency, what’s undeniable is that he had a good heart and, unlike many other former Presidents, has behaved in an altruistic and exemplary way since he left office. It looks as though his end is near, and I’ll miss him being around.

67 thoughts on “Bad news about Jimmy Carter

    1. Yes. I think for him the Presidency was the beginning of his rise, rather than the apex of it.

      Not to get too dark, but I kinda hope my parents are around long enough to get cancer at 90. Right now I’m worried they won’t make it to that privilege.

      1. Same here for my mother, even more so if she’ll more frequently take breaks from a lifetime of affinity for confrontation and saying most anything that pops into her mind.

        Fortunate that you have both parents. My father died of his second heart attack at age 35 when I was four. (Genetic predisposition plus smoking those unfiltered Camels and Lucky Strikes since high school.) Would have been nice to have had him around at least long enough to have a clear memory of his voice. Drove home to me at an early age the fragility/uncertainty of life and the need to make the most of each day.

  1. yes, he is one of the few with, apparently, a good heart. very religious which is always puzzling for a scientist (once upon a time)(nuclear) but he was far from a war monger unlike too many of our so-called leaders.

    1. Naval academy, nuclear engineer [submarine reactors] — probably not as challenging to biblical faith as being, say, a particle physicist, cosmologist or evolutionary biologist.

      Yes, I love the way he’s lived,

  2. Were there to be an election amongst all the presidents who’ve served during my lifetime, Carter is the only one I could vote for with a clean conscience.


        1. He probably hoped and thought that he could genuinely do good there. There is a place for idealists.

          Speaking as a reluctant cynic, if my view of politics prevailed then we’re all stuffed.


    1. Agreed, he is the only president during my lifetime who acted on admirable non-partisan ideals during his presidency. Energy conservation, human rights, genuine environmentalism…though he did have his flaws and his shady advisors (and he is ultimately to blame for them).

  3. Carter’s religious side has always struck me as part of his personal journey through life and less about dogma. His faith is not obtrusive and easily ignored in light of his actions which are directed by a genuine concern for his fellow humans and not some imaginary friend.

    1. I vaguely recall from years ago an atheist writing to Carter on some topic like whether he considers atheists good citizens and Carter surprising us with a weasly lukewarm response on how we can behave like good citizens but lack the capacity to understand democracy or love America or something of that ilk. The letter and response were printed publicly. I remember it because it damaged my previous conviction that he was the GOOD kind of Baptist and surely would not drag out some pro-faith apologetic smear for his good nontheistic fellow citizens. Alas.

      It wasn’t as bad as it could have been, I guess. He was (mostly) a class act.

      I also remember someone (I think Andy Rooney) pointing out, in awe, that Jimmy Carter crafts furniture from scratch … and he saw one of his chairs and it was perfect. Since the writer had tried and tried to make a chair which would not tip when sat on, he thought the capacity to be President of the United States and do that too placed Carter into demi-god status.

      1. ” . . . but lack the capacity to understand democracy . . . .”

        I wonder if he ever worked up the courage to confront his segregationist/racist father on that particular issue.

    2. He also recently left the Southern Baptists in a very thoughtful way. This is what he said:

      This view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief. Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths. Nor, tragically, does its influence stop at the walls of the church, mosque, synagogue or temple. This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women’s equal rights across the world for centuries.

      At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.

      See full article here.

      1. Yes, I remember that article too – I greatly admire the way he left the Southern Baptists. Also, isn’t he the reason we’ve had peace between Egypt and Israel for most of my lifetime?

        I don’t know much about him, but what I do know was always honourable.

        1. I think we can credit Carter with a lot of the peace around the world. He has worked extensively in diplomacy in Africa, the Middle East & even North Korea!

      2. Well – parsed all of the way down to his words’ core is Ms MacPherson’s excerpt of President Carter’s statement alongside this one as well from his same piece, “The TRUTH is that male religious leaders have had — and still have — an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world.”

        And both excerpts match my and friends’ (One Big Belief (repeatedly proven with vast volumes of evidence) that: such subjugating men .know. the TRUTH about Invisible Gods … … as does this President.

        Granted: in it he writes as if Jesus existed at all, but I don’t believe Religion User – Subjugators actually care one way or the other about that particular piece of (christian god –) fiction.

        The words of the Oldest Old Men passing themselves off as just the Messengers From Back When (of those invisible fictions) give today’s abusers more than enough of all of the power and control over the World’s female human beings that any particular day’s worth of subjugating could possibly require.


  4. President Carter will be judged by history much more fairly than he has during his post-Presidency. He was a President that we could be proud of. I knew when I got up in the morning that we had not invaded some small country or otherwise started another war under his leadership…

    1. Yep, he had to deal with the ultimate fallout of the 1953 Eisenhower decision to overthrow Mossedegh and install the Shah.

      Don’t know if the failed fiery rescue mission would have otherwise succeeded; he couldn’t be there on site to personally direct the on-ground maneuvering of aircraft.

      As LBJ said of being POTUS, “It’s like being a mule out in a hailstorm; you just have to stand there and take it.”

      1. That rescue attempt had bad luck from the very beginning. A neighbor of mine at the time was a pilot who trained extensively for that mission, but didn’t actually go on it. He crashed his HH-53 Super Jolly Green Giant helicopter during training for the mission. His injuries were severe, though he managed to crash well enough that nobody died.

        Turns out the actual mission used Navy helicopters anyway, the RH-53 Sea Stallion which was the same helicopter but fit out for Naval use.

        Regarding Carter’s level of oversight of the mission, while at Desert One, before the disaster, the military commanders asked Carter for permission to abort the mission, and he granted it. So he did have a rather direct role in the final results of the mission. Thing is, it was a perfectly reasonable decision, the correct decision. In fact it was sticking to the plan. It had been decided during planning that if more than two helicopters were lost that the plan should be aborted. Only five out of eight helicopters arrived at Desert One in operational condition. The crash occurred after the mission was aborted, as the forces were leaving Desert One.

        1. ” . . . the military commanders asked Carter for permission to abort the mission, and he granted it. So he did have a rather direct role in the final results of the mission . . . .”

          Are you saying that, had he denied permission to abort, the result would have otherwise been a non-tragic result? Were aircraft commanders so insufficiently focused on their own personal interest and safety, and that of others for whom they were responsible, upon aborting the mission and trying to get out of Iran, that one could not manage to avoid running into the other?

            1. “Try again.”

              Aye, aye . . . Sir.

              (With apologies to Gentle Readers, if I somehow burden and offend.)

              I reasonably gather that your:

              “Regarding Carter’s level of oversight of the mission . . . the military commanders asked Carter for permission to abort the mission, and he granted it. So he did have a rather direct role in the final results of the mission.”

              Was in response to my:

              “Don’t know if the failed fiery rescue mission would have otherwise succeeded; he couldn’t be there on site to personally direct the on-ground maneuvering of aircraft.”

              (I acknowledge that this reveals my ignorance of the fact that the mission had been aborted BEFORE the accident occurred. But that has no bearing on the care taken to avoid a collision between aircraft.)

              Regarding “reading comprehension,” how can you reasonably construe my statement as saying that Carter had no kind of “direct” role in the mission’s final results? (If my question inaccurately frames the situation then, pray tell, exactly with what were you begging to differ?)

              I agree that Carter had at least a “rather” direct role. (Though, exactly what does “rather” mean?) Presidents are inescapably “The Buck Stops Here” responsible (unlike popinjay Philistine congressmen who, apparently after 12/8/41, are determined to never again shoulder responsibility by declaring war). U.S. Navy ship commanding officers are no less inescapably, directly responsible, have at least a “rather” direct role, and are relieved of command and forced to retire on account of the carelessness/irresponsibility of their most junior subordinates, which CO’s cannot predict or control beyond training and inculcation of a sense of duty and responsibility. Just part of the reality. “RHIP” – “Rank Hath Its Privileges”; “RHIR” – “Rank Hath Its Responsibilities.” (But Presidents’ privileges apparently are such that they are not similarly relieved of command, short of being impeached or not re-elected.)

              Carter did not have the “most” direct role. The most direct role belonged to the pilots in charge of the ground movements and safety of the several aircraft involved. Could Carter’s presence in the cockpit, looking over the pilot’s shoulder, have made the critical, cautious care-taking difference?

              Too many of the U.S. public (those remembering or aware of it in the first place) find it all too easy to associate that accident, killing several U.S. service members (their charred remains on display in Tehran), with Carter, as if he were “directly,” proximately, responsible – as if he had a most-direct role in the accident.

              If there had been no accident, for sure Carter would inescapably have had a “rather” direct role in whatever happened after he granted permission to abort the mission. Maybe the aircraft would have collided/crashed elsewhere. Maybe not.

              Had there been no accident, I suppose that Ronald Reagan would have had to content himself with assigning, at the most, a “rather” direct role to Carter for the mission’s failure. (Just as I suspect he surely assigned to himself a “rather” direct role in the suicide bombing of the 1983 U.S. Marine barracks in Lebanon, resulting IIRC in 243 deaths. I gather that he then decided to take a “more” direct role by ordering the U.S. military out of Lebanon.)

              (Again, a thousand apologies for imposing the lengthy above on Gentle Readers.)

              1. Let me apologize for responding to your apparent passive-aggressive sarcasm and apparent implication that I am an idiot that would subscribe to the line of reasoning you laid out, with a more direct rudeness. Though you appear to be doing the same with your 2nd response, I will not respond in a similar manner again.

                1st, my original comment was not intended to be argumentative, and on rereading still does not seem to me to be so.

                “. . . how can you reasonably construe my statement as saying that Carter had no kind of “direct” role in the mission’s final results?”

                I think this is where things went wrong. I did not construe your comment that way. When I read your comment it brought to mind the controversy over that rescue attempt and the fallacious accusations that Carter was somehow especially responsible for the failure of the mission and the tragedy that occurred afterwards. My intent was to relate some additional details in support of your comment, that I had interpreted as something along the lines of “Carter inherited a lot of trouble and then was unfairly criticised when disaster directly related to that trouble struck.” Or something similar. And, yes, to point out the timing of the disaster, after the mission was aborted.

                I did not intend to say, or even suggest, that Carter was responsible for the disaster afterwards, quite the opposite. Though that is something that Oliver North would probably strongly imply on that TV show of his, it is obviously ridiculous. I am not sure how you interpreted that way given that I said . . .

                “Thing is, it was a perfectly reasonable decision, the correct decision. In fact it was sticking to the plan. It had been decided during planning that if more than two helicopters were lost that the plan should be aborted.”

                . . . but I should, do, realize that this kind of miscommunication is common for a variety of reasons.


              2. I came to two conclusions at the time and after reading these posts haven’t changed them.

                First, how could Jimmy Carter possibly be blamed for the fiasco? (Unless he had ordered the operation against the advice of the military, which does not seem to be the case). If anyone should be ‘sacked’, it was surely not Carter, but some responsible people in the military.

                Second, the US military just don’t seem very competent on that occasion, to lose a substantial part of their force to accidents without making contact with the enemy. Maybe there were unique difficulties I don’t appreciate.


  5. I’m so sorry to hear this. I always admired the man, and his deeds. He has probably lived the most exemplary post-presidency of any I can think of. I voted for him, too. That was many moons ago, so I’m showing my age.

  6. I always think that Carter was a victim of bad circumstances. Inflation was already a big problem before he arrived. OPEC and gas prices started up. Iran had their little mess and it just went downhill from there. Carter also tried to micromanage and that almost never works.

    Politics really stinks but it use to be fun to watch…not any longer.

    1. The policies that ended inflation began at the end of his presidency, but Reagan tends to get credit for it among the general public.

    2. O, this is sad. And politics — then — was, indeed, so, so much more fun including the 26 October 1975 // Sunday Jefferson – Jackson Day Dinner held here on Campus and at where Friend (who is now with quite a bit younger body than Mr Carter’s but one also full of cells being fought ) and I met both him and Spouse. By a huge margin, he took that night its poll of the five candidates running.

      Iowans as well the next January went on to declare Mr Carter its Democratic Caucus winner.

      Fun memories right now. Perhaps … …

  7. Carter was probably too good of a human being to be President.

    Amazing man – he was at Powell’s in Portland within the last 2 weeks and gave no indication that he was sick.

  8. Carter is one of America’s best presidents. He was close with one of Canada’s best Prime Mimister’s, Pierre Trudeau and he attended Trudeau’s funeral (along with Castro).

    The Carter Center has done incredible work, especially around pretty much eliminating the Guinea Worm.

    1. I was going to say that about the guinea worm, Diana. You beat me. He is undoubtedly one of the best ex-Presidents we have ever had.

  9. Carter shone as an ex-president, but it was a long time before I could forgive him for conceding the 1980 election more than an hour before the polls closed in California. I was living in CA at the time, and can still remember how furious I was, thinking how it could hurt other Dem candidates.

  10. I was no big fan of Carter’s presidency, though I held my nose and voted for him. Twice. Nevertheless, he has been — and I don’t believe this can be contested on any but ideological grounds — our best ex-president. Ever. And he’s had a 35-year run at it. (Those born in the final year of his presidency are now age-qualified to run for that office themselves!)

    The news of his grave illness fills me with malaise.

    1. The infections were reduced from 3.5 million cases, to 126 cases through the efforts of the Carter Center and others. Fantastic.

  11. Jimmy Carter was one of our more decent Presidents. But that does not say very much. At the time of the Iranian take over of the American Embassy in Iran in 1978-79, Carter was asked if he should explain some of our actions against Iran in 1953 (when we overthrew Mossadegh, the popularly elected leader), Carter replied by saying “that was ancient history.” Iranians remembered it. Carter was not so good on Central America, but he did try to open relations with Cuba. His sister was a religious fanatic.

    John J. Fitzgerald

    1. “His sister was a religious fanatic.

      And his brother drank lousy beer. Good thing we didn’t elect either of them President.

      1. I had forgotten about Brother Billy – and Miss Lillian. Is Rosalyn still around? I wonder what Amy’s up to.

    2. ‘Carter replied by saying “that was ancient history.” ‘

      I wonder at what moment it became “ancient history.”

      Is South Vietnam “ancient history” by now and, if so, exactly when did that happen?

  12. I am saddened to hear the news about Mr. Carter. I have more respect for him as a person and as a politician than I do for many from my country.

    His efforts on behalf of the poor and underprivileged of this world speak volumes about his honour and compassion.

  13. He was the only President of the modern era to actually be a kind and decent human being. This hampered his effectiveness as President but he has shown the content of his character in his many humanitarian efforts since he left office. In walking through the the Jimmy Carter Library and Museum, I had forgotten many of the issues he promoted, like confronting our dependence on foreign oil, embracing alternative energy like solar, toning down our foreign policy rhetoric, working to broker peace in the Middle East, not blowing the budget on the military, etc., that were dropped or otherwise ignored by the Reagan Administration. If we had followed Carter’s policies in these areas, we wouldn’t be struggling with many of the problems we face today. Carter was/is a man of deep religious faith but he never forced his beliefs onto others or presented them in an excuse to screw over Americans via policy decisions. Carter was the Anti-G.W. Bush in how he used his faith to guide his policies in office. I wish him the best as he battles cancer.

  14. I still don’t get why Carter’s supposed to be such a bad president. He had some tough decisions to make and made good choices even though those choices were frequently unpopular; he looks like a good leader to me. He reminds me a bit of WH Taft and his undeservedly bad reputation as President. In the years since the only other president whom I think wasn’t so bad a leader was Bill Clinton, and even he was no Carter. Next would be Bush Sr and then Obama. I’m not sure who to rank worse: Bush Jr or Ol’ man Reagan himself. Both Reagan and Bush Jr were overflowing with platitudes and popular with the masses though absolutely abysmal presidents. Maybe the citizenry would rather hear of lies about how great America is and how Politician X is fighting hard to protect our way of life while in reality destroying society.

  15. He undoubtedly had a rough ride while in office, & is clearly the modern president with the best after-life in his humanitarian work.
    …but he is almost 91 chaps!
    I cannot believe no one has mentioned peanuts…!

      1. @Filippo: When the Indonesian army ran out of weapons during their genocidal assault on East Timor Carter increased the sale of weapons to Indonesia.

  16. On the flip side, he made it to at least 90, so that’s pretty awesome. Hopefully, he won’t have a long and painful battle ahead of him.

    1. I think Chomsky would say – I do, and I largely agree with him here – that this is a great example of how the *institutions* and *structure* of American (and indeed, many places) politics is also what is dysfunctional. If a decent man like Carter can get into horrible situations like the complicity over Timor and so on, what matter of worse situations would arise when someone genuinely nasty or worse gets in (or senile, in the case of Reagan)?

      1. @Keith Douglas: If the POTUS is indeed powerless (your explanation for the Carter administration’s war crimes) then it doesn’t matter if the person *acting* as president is nasty and/or senile or worse. Would you have convicted any Nazis at Nuremberg? Do you think they too were all victims of institutional/structural dysfunctionality? Brecht said something like “The dark powers that oppress you have a name, an address, and a face.”

        1. No, not powerless – constrained by the system to be able to act in only certain ways. Much like how a poor person (of a certain character) *can* take a vacation, but would eat badly later if they do. Also, we know that presidents and such have been assassinated for unpopular policies, so …

  17. running as an outsider and looking down on politics, he made the fatal mistake of not building a coalition of supporters in congress. when things turned south he had no one to back him up.

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