Former Democratic operative turned journalist George Stephanopoulos on Friday fawned over Jimmy Carter. Though much of the interview with the "heroic" ex-President focused on his humanitarian work, Stephanopoulos also prompted Carter to push his liberal agenda.
The politician went on a rant against the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United campaign finance ruling, calling it "the stupidest ruling and the most damaging ruling that the Supreme Court has ever issued." Ever? Worse than the 1857 Dred Scott case that ruled African Americans to not be citizens? Worse than 1896's Plessy vs. Ferguson, the case that legalized racial segregation?
Stephanopoulos offered no follow-up to this perplexing assertion. Indeed, Carter was not portrayed as controversial at all. This is the same man who on January 12th pinned the motivation for the recent terror attack in France by radical Muslims on the "Palestinian problem":
Well, one of the origins for it is the Palestinian problem...And this aggravates people who are affiliated in any way with the Arab people who live in the West Bank and Gaza, what they are doing now — what’s being done to them. So I think that’s part of it.
But Stephanopoulos didn't ask about that. Instead of grilling Carter, he gushed, "I saw that next month you'll give an award to Bob Dylan. That kinda surprised me. Tell me about that relationship."
Stephanopoulos closed with this softball: "When historians write the paragraph on Jimmy Carter, 100 years from now, what do you want to be at the top of the list?"
Considering that Carter, like George W. Bush, had an approval rating in the mid 30s when he left office (and the Democrat has continued to engage in political controversies) it would seem only fair hit him with at least a few tough questions.
A partial transcript of the January 16 Good Morning America segment is below:
[First part of interview is on eradicating guinea worm disease.]
ABC GRAPHIC: Remarkable Public Health Triumph: President Carter's Heroic Efforts
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: You've engaged in public service outside after the presidency --
JIMMY CARTER: Yes.
STEPHANOPOULOS: – longer than any other American president. How did you view on what you could do and the power of that position evolve over time?
CARTER: When I left the White House, of course, I was fairly young for survivors of the White House. I was 56 and we didn't know what we were going to do the rest of our lives and we decided to take on projects that no one else wanted to do.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Those projects include not just fighting disease but traveling the world to monitor elections and promote human rights and President Carter still keeps tabs on politics here at home. I got to ask you about politics. You, I think, announced for president 40 years ago last month. Came out of nowhere and I still remember that because it was on What's My Line?
[Clip of What's my Line?]
SOUPY SALES: Is this anything to do with the world of fashion?
LARRY BLYDEN: Two down, eight to go. Donna?
STEPHANOPOULOS: No one knew who you were. Could that happen today?
CARTER: No. The thing is completely changed now because the acquisition of the primary for Democrats or Republicans comes with the ability to raise, say, $200 million.
STEPHANOPOULOS: At least.
CARTER: At least that much and when I ran against Gerald Ford he and I raised zero. Later, when I ran against Ronald Reagan we raised zero and I think that's the main problem is a so-called Citizens United ruling of a Supreme Court which I think is the stupidest ruling and the most damaging ruling that the Supreme Court has ever issued.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I saw that next month you'll give an award to Bob Dylan. That kinda surprised me. Tell me about that relationship.
CARTER: Well, he and I have been friends for a long time. When I was governor, I got to know him quite well.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You quoted him in your acceptance have speech, 1976.
CARTER: I did. [Cut to clip of Carter's 1976 acceptance speech.] We have an America that in Bob Dylan's phrase is busy being born, not busy dying. [Clip ends.] And so, I've been friends and I found out to my pleasant surprise that Bob Dylan specifically requested that I be the one to give him the award that he's going to get next month.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You're going so strong at the age of 90-plus. When historians write the paragraph on Jimmy Carter, 100 years from now, what do you want to be at the top of the list?
CARTER: I'd say, maybe peace and human rights. I kept the country at peace for four years and promoted peace for other people.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And maybe eradicating a disease.
CARTER: Well, I think this is going to be a great achievement. Not for me, but for the people who have been afflicted and for the entire world to see diseases like this eradicated.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Pushing through at the age of 90. Writing every day. Amazing work, for President Carter.