The shock of white hair, the blue eyes, the soft Georgia accent are all the same. But the venom pouring from Jimmy Carter as he peddles his 20th book is new.
“I wrote this book with trepidation, … reluctantly,” the 81-year-old former president admitted to reporters before going on yet another round of TV talk shows.
Carter says his new volume, “Our Endangered Values: America’s Moral Crisis,” is his first “political” book. Its publication this week has prompted him to attack President Bush for “arrogance” and using his “fundamentalism” to justify taking the nation in a direction that Carter believes it does not want to go.
He defines that direction as pre-emptive war, abandoning human rights agreements, blurring lines between church and state and chipping away at civil liberties. He said he is outraged that the administration has secret prisons abroad and has argued against a congressional ban on any U.S. torture.
Carter’s lowest job-approval rating was 28 percent, far lower than Bush’s, now in the mid-to-upper 30s, depending on the poll. After leaving the presidency in 1981, he won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 for his humanitarian work through the Carter Center he founded. He is, he said with a laugh, a better ex-president than he was a president.
Although he sometimes quarreled with former President Bill Clinton, a fellow Democrat, over his own trips to North Korea and Haiti and vigorously opposed the Iraq war in 2003, Carter has chosen to speak out harshly against Bush this week _ breaking an unwritten rule that past presidents do not publicly criticize the current one.
On every major network, he has argued that the Bush administration has abrogated “almost every international agreement” the United States has signed and led a “transformation” of American values. “This president has radically departed from (the policies) of all previous presidents,” Carter said.