State of the Union

You Are More Audience Than the State of the Union Address Deserves

President Carter was the last national chief executive to spare us the speech from the throne.

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White House

Former President Jimmy Carter is a tad underrated. Yes, the 1970s were a bit embarrassing all around, But Carter's administration helped deliver a healthy dose of deregulation to an economy that was state-controlled in weird and intrusive ways that many of us have forgotten. President Carter was also the last national chief executive to spare us the speech from the throne fucking tedious monarchical haranguing, as Thomas Jefferson might possibly have put it when he let his wig down. Yes, Jimmy Carter was the last president to mail it in, sending a written State of the Union address to Congress in 1981.

Please, bring back Jimmy Carter.

It's true, the annual "event" of presidents using a roomful of bored legislators to hog television time and pump themselves up before a national audience isn't as traditional as often assumed. But we're stuck with it for the moment. There's not even any surprise left to what presidents say. President Obama leaked his policy proposals/talking points for the base in advance, and critics started delivering "prebuttals" days ago. Which is no surprise, considering that the State of the Union address has nothing to do with updating us on the state of the union. It is, and has been for a long time, political posturing by an officeholder we've known for years, spurring responses by other players we've suffered for an equivalent amount of time.

But it's my job to watch this professional wrestling match, and I have an unhealthy fascination with the whole sick spectacle. You have no excuse.

Still, if you must watch, please stick with Reason. We'll be livetweeting this culmination of American democracy, and giving it the treatment it so richly deserves.

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  1. Lessened trucking regulations, lessened airline regulations, and legalized home brewing. And he only had 4 years! Best not to think about the 55mph speed limit, though.

    1. Wasn’t that Nixon? Carter also cut bank regs making interest bearing DDA accounts legal.

      Carter was the most libertarian pres since Coolidge. I have to remind the Peanuts of that once in a while.

    2. Nixon signed the federal 55 mph limit according to my first search hit.

      1. He did. But Carter enforced it by threatening to withhold federal hwy funding.

        1. Well there is the pesky Supremacy Clause. I doubt Carter actually patrolled the interstates. And there was that oil embargo.

          1. The oil embargo never had any effect on America’s gas price. Oil is fungible. The problems were all due to price controls.

  2. Please, bring back Jimmy Carter.

    Unfortunately, if we brought back Carter today I’m pretty sure his entire speech would be ‘Everything in America would be brilliant, if it wasn’t for our Zionist puppet masters.’

    1. Yeah, the guy who brokered the peace deal with Israel’s most serious enemy in the region really hated Zionists.

      1. Uh, except that he does. But thanks for Botarding for us.

        1. Yes, yes, any criticism of Israel must mean he hates them and wants them driven into the sea…

            1. Er, they are. They’re in control of one of the occupied territories. Recognizing that doesn’t mean you hate Israel. You’re grasping.

              1. Hamas’ charter explicitly states the following:

                For a long time, the enemies have been planning, skillfully and with precision, for the achievement of what they have attained. They took into consideration the causes affecting the current of events. They strived to amass great and substantive material wealth which they devoted to the realisation of their dream. With their money, they took control of the world media, news agencies, the press, publishing houses, broadcasting stations, and others. With their money they stirred revolutions in various parts of the world with the purpose of achieving their interests and reaping the fruit therein. They were behind the French Revolution, the Communist revolution and most of the revolutions we heard and hear about, here and there. With their money they formed secret societies, such as Freemasons, Rotary Clubs, the Lions and others in different parts of the world for the purpose of sabotaging societies and achieving Zionist interests. With their money they were able to control imperialistic countries and instigate them to colonize many countries in order to enable them to exploit their resources and spread corruption there.

                1. Furthermore:

                  You may speak as much as you want about regional and world wars. They were behind World War I, when they were able to destroy the Islamic Caliphate, making financial gains and controlling resources. They obtained the Balfour Declaration, formed the League of Nations through which they could rule the world. They were behind World War II, through which they made huge financial gains by trading in armaments, and paved the way for the establishment of their state. It was they who instigated the replacement of the League of Nations with the United Nations and the Security Council to enable them to rule the world through them. There is no war going on anywhere, without having their finger in it.

                  You’re right. There’s no conceivable reason why supporting Hamas could be perceived as anti-Israeli.

                  1. They blame WW1 on the Jews? I knew they were conspiracists, but that’s off the charts.

                    1. The Middle East is like a convention of Anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and tropes on LSD. The Protocols of Zion are taken completely seriously in many places.

                  2. You’re moving goalposts left and right here. Of course Hamas is anti-Israel. What you’re trying to say is that because Carter spoke at an event of an organization that supposedly has ‘links’ to Hamas that Carter is anti-Israel.

                    If a leftist were playing that kind of five degrees of separation guilt by association you’d be howling in outrage.

                    1. You’re moving goalposts left and right here. Of course Hamas is anti-Israel. What you’re trying to say is that because Carter spoke at an event of an organization that supposedly has ‘links’ to Hamas that Carter is anti-Israel.

                      If a leftist were playing that kind of five degrees of separation guilt by association you’d be howling in outrage.

                      No, Bo, they don’t have ‘links’ to Hamas, they funded terrorist organizations to such an extent that they were shut down by the Canadian government.

                      This would be like a conservative attending a Klan rally. I assume we could expect you to support him in such an instance, correct?

                      I love that you hate the SOCONS!?!?! when someone simply says something you don’t like, but when Carter attends an active terrorist fundraiser with known radicals you can’t take his dick out of your mouth long enough to consider that may have been an error in judgment.

                    2. Er, I actually defended Scalise when he did that.

                      That organization is one of the largest American Muslim organizations in the nation. It’s had many major figures speak there. It’s ludicrous to suggest that they were all indicating their affinity for terrorism or Hamas.

                      Of course, given that Carter sees himself as a peacemaker and one that is willing to meet with any and all sides in accomplishing that, if he met with Hamas itself it would not tell me much.

                    3. Everything I’ve seen or read Carter say on the subject is that if peace is going to be brokered then the relevant parties have to be at the table, just as the IRA and Sinn Fein had to be at the table for peace talks regarding Ireland Hamas will have to be part of a peace agreement with Israel.

                      I think that’s the wrong view, myself. Hamas is just too far on the extreme and negotiating with them seems counterproductive. I think Israel should isolate them by making significant concessions to Fatah which has shown much more promise in that area.

                      But I don’t think Carter wanting Hamas to be at the table makes him anti-Israel or pro-Hamas any more than his previous stance made him pro-IRA or anti-English.

                    4. As for your point about Hamas being ‘anti-Israel’ Carter is unquestioningly supportive of Hamas and actually prefers them to the Israeli government.

                      I challenge you to find me a quote from Carter as critical of Hamas as he is of Israel. Go for it.

                      You want to know how Carter spent last August, Bo? At the beginning of the month he wrote an article for Foreign Policy which was 100% supportive of Hamas and anti-Israel. At the end of the month, he attended a fundraiser for an organization that was banned in Canada specifically for siphoning money to Hamas and Pakistani Islamist fundamentalist organizations.

                      A question: If Newt Gingrich spent August 2nd penning an article called ‘Neo-Nazis – Not so Bad’ and then attended a meeting at the end of the month which featured a dozen known white supremacists, would you be coming up with excuses for that behavior?

                    5. “At the beginning of the month he wrote an article for Foreign Policy which was 100% supportive of Hamas and anti-Israel.”

                      I’ve read that article. He condemns Hamas targeting of civilians (so much for ‘100% supportive’). The gist was not to talk about how Hamas is not so bad or bad at all, but that Hamas has to be recognized in peace talks and that Israel missed an opportunity when Hamas conceded to a unity government with Fatah. You don’t have to hate Israel to think that might have been a missed opportunity.

                    6. Hamas has to be recognized in peace talks

                      Which is absolutely nuts of course.

                      BTW Carter seriously used the term ‘Israeli Apartheid’ which makes him a loon and and anti-Israeli extremist.

          1. Its a wingnut thing to defend Israel reflexively. They can’t help it.

            1. Its a wingnut thing to defend Israel reflexively. They can’t help it.

              I think it’s a ‘rational human being’ thing to point out that you have to be a moron to argue Israel is at fault for the Paris shooting. It’s also a ‘rational human being’ thing to criticize Carter, given his longstanding support of terrorist organizations.

              1. How dishonest of you to conflate ‘Israel is at fault’ with what he said.

                1. He was specifically asked about the Paris shooting and said ‘I think one of the factors is the Israeli/Palestine situation.’

                  In what conceivable way can anyone look at that and not conclude that he was blaming Israel for the shooting?

                  1. Because he said ONE, suggesting one of MANY maybe?

                    Good grief you’re either being patently dishonest or willfully obtuse here.

                    1. Good grief you’re either being patently dishonest or willfully obtuse here.

                      Stop taking Bo’s job from him.

            2. It’s a freedom thing PB. You would not understand.

          2. Jimmy Carter has spoken at fundraisers for the linked group, called the Islamic Society of North America.

            They have connections to Hamas, multiple people involved with the organization have made statements to the effect that America is a Jewish puppet state, and the Islamic Society of North America was caught by the Canadians sending money to this group, which exists for the sole purpose of turning Pakistan into an Islamic state under Sharia law.

            You’re right though. There’s nothing wrong with attending fundraisers for an organization that’s a known sponsor of terrorism. I’m just criticizing Carter because of my mindless love of the Israeli state.

            1. Other speakers at their events: Karen Hughes, Rick Snyder, and Rick Warren.

        1. He said one of the origins of the terrorism in Paris was the Palestinian problem.

          Do you think no Muslims in Paris (or elsewhere) are upset by what they see as the maltreatment of their fellow Muslims in Palestine? That’s not ‘one’ of their justifications for their anger and/or radicalization? More importantly, does suggesting that make one a hater of Israel or whatever?

          1. You must have missed the part about him speaking at pro-terrorist funding organizations.

            Do you think no Muslims in Paris (or elsewhere) are upset by what they see as the maltreatment of their fellow Muslims in Palestine?

            You’re right. Those Muslims shot Charlie Hebdo cartoonists because of the known connections between French satirists and the Israeli state.

            I was completely wrong. Jimmy Carter is brilliant and you’re brilliant for seeing all the genius points in Jimmy Carter’s rambling senility which I failed to initially perceive.

            1. Again, you’re answering someone in your head. What I asked was do you not think the situation in Palestine is something that Muslims in Paris (and elsewhere) are very upset about? And you don’t think that plays any part in, say, their targeting of Jews in a Kosher deli (which was probably what Carter was talking about, donchathink?).

              This isn’t to justify such attacks. Carter himself regularly denounces any attacks on civilians. But it’s goofy to act like Muslims around the world are not at least in part very upset about what goes on in Palestine.

              1. ITT, Bo valiantly white knights for his fellow Israel-hater.

                And you don’t think that plays any part in, say, their targeting of Jews in a Kosher deli (which was probably what Carter was talking about, donchathink?).

                There is no evidence of this and it is impossible to prove a negative. Why we should give a shit about the delicate feelings of the Muzzies is a mystery as well.

          2. Do you think no Muslims in Paris (or elsewhere) are upset by what they see as the maltreatment of their fellow Muslims in Palestine?

            You’re right. They should be angry about the abuses perpetrated by the PA and Hamas. Why this is relevant to the Hebdo shootings, you and I have no idea.

    2. That’s why Carter hates Obama! Obama is a Zionist! He even put Likud in his cabinet!

  3. Please, bring back Jimmy Carter.

    Thanks, no! Really! None for me, thanks!

    Now, Grover Cleveland…

    1. William Henry Harrison!

      We’ll give you a big parade, you get to make a big long fancy speech, then you go home and crawl into bed and stay there until you’re dead.

      Right behind ol’ George, William Henry was the shiniest of shining examples for our exalted leaders to emulate.

      1. Huzzah!

    2. I’d settle for Warren Harding.

  4. To some extent, I feel sorry for Carter. He inherited the full brunt of Nixon’s economic mess. Unfortunately, it wasn’t till Volcker that it started to be straightened out.

  5. It’s really too bad about the whole Watergate thing. Without that, Nixon would have been a two term President revered as a god among men for his wisdom and compassion by the people who currently self-identify as “progressives”.

    But- you can ride a thousand horses, and never be called a cowboy; fuck one lousy sheep, and you never hear the end of it.

    1. I asked a liberal friend about that once. why him and the left hated Nixon who created the EPA, and tried to get us out of Vietnam, but loved Kennedy who got us involved in the stupid Vietnam war to begin with.

      He didn’t have a very good answer.

      1. You already know the answer: TEAM. Partisans are about as sophisticated as ants.

  6. I’m popping some popcorn for the response by Joni Ernst. Mmm, should be delicious.

    1. Will she castrate a pig on live TV?

      1. Are you volunteering?

  7. This comment section in a nutshell:

    Me: “Anyone remember the time Jimmy Carter refused to recognize the Democratically elected government of Zimbabwe and actively supported what he fully knew was a Marxist one-party state under the control of Robert Mugabe? Carter didn’t even express regret for his role in Mugabe seizing control until 2008.”

    Bo: “That’s a reductivist argument. He just said we should recognize Mugabe as president, and what’s so wrong with that?”

    Honestly, when someone spends the amount of time and effort supporting Hamas that Carter does, the idea that he’s just being ‘misunderstood’ is laughable.

    Here’s a video of Carter saying we can trust Hamas.

    Here is Carter claiming that Hamas is willing to live with Israel in peace, a fact that would doubtlessly surprise Hamas given their public statements re: Israel.

    Bo’s right though. Where did I ever get this idea that Jimmy Carter is actively pro-Hamas? All he’s done is speak on behalf of Hamas for the last decade while attending fund raisers for organizations which were already known to have ties to Hamas. Clearly I’m just being a damn wingnut again.

    ?\_(?)_/?

    1. Also, clearly Carter’s got a brilliant read on Hamas, so we can trust his insight into the matter:

      “It means that Hamas will not undermine Abbas’s efforts to negotiate an agreement and Hamas will accept an agreement if the Palestinians support it in a free vote,” he said.

      However, Hamas said Monday it won’t necessarily accept the results of any Palestinian referendum on peace with Israel.

      Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman said Carter’s comments ”do not mean that Hamas is going to accept the result of the referendum.”

      Carter: Hamas will totally accept the Democratic process.

      Hamas: No we won’t.

      Carter: Don’t listen to them. Who are you going to listen to, Hamas or my claims about Hamas? I’m a former president you know.

      1. What if I don’t give a shit about Palestine or Israel?

        I like Jews though.

      2. Now you know why I call them peacenazis and why that is such a good label for them.

    2. You keep throwing the same bombs while not answering any specific rebuttals I’ve made.

      1. Do you think that those who argued that the IRA and Sinn Fein should be recognized as part of peace talks were therefore anti-English and pro-terrorism?

      2. Do you think Rick Warren or Karen Hughes are supporters of Hamas? They’ve spoken at the same organization’s events that you’re harping on.

      3. Do you really think that someone suggesting that anger over the situation in Palestine might have something to do with the targeting of Jews in Paris means they hate Israel?

      1. You have not made a single rebuttal in this entire thread. You just obfuscate like the know-nothing idiot you are.

      2. Seriously dude, stop with the analogies. You are analogy-challenged. So many people have pointed this out to you, yet you still fail to make the first step in realizing you have a problem with analogies. Take that first step. Admit you have a problem. Then you can take steps towards recovery.

  8. “Please, bring back Jimmy Carter.”

    Well, I never thought I’d go to Beijing, either.

  9. Carter also brought in an energy windfall tax, made the Department of Education an active entity, and comforted America’s Cold War enemies while alienating our allies with devastating effect in Iran.

  10. Huh, so in 1981 the SOTU was before the presidential inaugur’n. ISTR since then situations where a new POTUS came in & almost immediately had to report the SOTU.

  11. Funny how no one pointed out that Carter’s 1981 petulant State of the Whining letter wasn’t an SoTU.

    In election years, the new president pre-empts the SOTU with the inauguration speech. The ex-president sits down and does the STFU.

    Carter’s whine was a sign that this idiot wasn’t going to disappear into post-presidential retirement.

    But, let’s be VERY clear. There WAS no 1981 SoTU.

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