Speaking of etiquette and civility — there’s an odious little toad named Ed Rogers who is a Republican tool and a frequent guest on MSNBC Hardball. Last night’s program began with an interview of Jimmy Carter by David Shuster, and ended with this exchange (emphasis added):
SHUSTER: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Weâ€˜re back with Ed Rogers and Joe Trippi.
And Joe, Iâ€˜ve got to ask you, earlier in thisâ€”Jimmy Carter said that he would prefer if Al Gore ran for president again. I know that you would like Al Gore to run again, so whatâ€˜s your reaction?
TRIPPI: I think Al Gore should run. I mean, this is going to be a very important election, and when you look at the real issues that are out there, like global warming and this war in Iraq and this economy and the deficits weâ€˜re running, Al Gore has been putting out a lot of bold ideas on a lot of those subjects and doing very well as a non-candidate.
The real question is, if he does become a candidate, does he start, you know, being the safe, cautious guy that he was when he was a public official. …
… SHUSTER: Given that Iraq is the dominant subject, why not Al Gore? I mean, do you really think he would be such an easy target for Republicans?
ROGERS: I love the idea of Jimmy Carter picking the next Democrat nominee. From one loser to another, from Jimmy Carter to Al Gore. That suits me.
I’m sorry I don’t have audio, because there was something about the way Rogers sneered out the word loser that just plain made me sick. I know we’ve all seen rightie operatives play this smear game thousands of times, but something about this exchange grabbed me more than usual.
If Rogers or any other Republican wants to say he disagreed with Jimmy Carter’s policies as president, or that Carter made mistakes, or that Carter’s administration was substandard, that’s one thing. That’s legitimate political opinion, whether I agree with it or not. But to insult the man as a loser — I mean, who the hell is pipsqueak Ed Rogers to call Jimmy Carter a loser? Carter is our oldest living former President. [update: Second oldest; I forgot Mr. Ford.] He’s a Nobel laureate, for pity’s sake. Ed Rogers doesn’t have to like him, but when speaking of the man in public, civil discourse requires showing the man some respect.
As for Al Gore — A lot of us were put out with Al Gore’s 2000 campaign, but his speeches and work since then have made him a champion of the values many of us hold dear. Still, assuming he’s still a potential candidate a little knocking around is expected. But why is it necessary to insult Jimmy Carter?
I think a little respect is in order when speaking about any elderly, living retired elected official on a television news show seen nationwide by a general audience, but especially a retired POTUS. If Rogers wants to badmouth Carter when conversing with other Republicans that’s his business. But I do not believe that, 40 years ago, someone speaking on a nationally broadcast television program would have insulted a living former President that way. The fact that Rogers does it and no one seems to mind is symptomatic of the deterioration of political discourse.
… But Al Gore is pretty tired. Thatâ€˜s no new energy for the party. Heâ€˜s a lousy performer. I mean heâ€”you know, Al Gore, plus 60 pounds, is he going to do better than he did in â€˜04?
Nothing substantive about Gore’s stands on issues, notice. Instead, Rogers — who isn’t exactly Mr. Twiggy — makes fun of his weight. If my Mama had been watching this, she would have said somebody ought to teach Rogers some manners.
TRIPPI: And Ed, will all due respect, I mean, there were a lot of Republican losers in this past election. I mean, a couple of Republicans…
ROGERS: They werenâ€˜t running for president.
ROGERS: We had a bad election. We lost a lot. Thatâ€˜s over. Letâ€˜s look at 2008. It is the Democratsâ€˜ time to win. Historically, the Democratsâ€”after eight years ago in power, the Democrats are supposed to win. But they can blow it. And they can blow it by Kerry. They can blow it by Clinton. They can blow it by Gore. We know what a winning Democratic nominee looks like. It looks like Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. They donâ€˜t have a Clinton stylistically in this race.
TRIPPI: Well, thereâ€˜s a lot. Look, thereâ€˜s very strong field. John Edwards in this field. Look, I think when you look at whatâ€˜s going on, the Democrats are in good stead for 2008. Any one of the people that you mentioned or Edâ€˜s mentioned or that we talked about tonight can win against the Republicans.
And I agree with Ed on one thing. Usually whatâ€˜s supposed to happen in politics happens, and you donâ€˜t usually have a two-term president being followed by a member of his own party…
ROGERS: Thatâ€˜s true.
TRIPPI: … and particularlyâ€”unless itâ€˜s somebody very popular, like a Reagan presidency, which got us George Bush I.
ROGERS: A third term.
TRIPPI: A third term.
Itâ€˜s not likely that the Republicans are going to pull this off, given George Bushâ€˜s unpopular status right now, the failure in Iraq, particularly if he keeps doing what heâ€˜s doing and staying the course, and you have people like John McCain the only way out is to put more troops in there, which is…
ROGERS: The Democrats are so arrogant. They…
TRIPPI: … this is why I think itâ€˜s going to be a problem for them.
ROGERS: The Democrats never respect the legitimacy of their defeat. So when they lose an election, they always think itâ€˜s because the other side cheated or some happened, never about their agenda. This time, they are overestimating the significance of their victory. They won in â€˜06 because they did nothing, not because they did something. Their agenda is a loser, and thatâ€˜ll come through in â€˜08 if theyâ€˜re not careful.
The Democrats are so arrogant? Holy bleep …
This is pretty standard stuff for Rogers. You’ve got Trippi, who is someone I don’t always agree with either, injecting somewhat substantive statements, and Rogers doing nothing but smearing Democrats. Notice there was no discussion (except for a passing mention of McCain) of potential Republican candidates in 2008. Just Rogers calling the Dems arrogant and loser. That’s pretty much all he ever does, yet he seems to be on cable news talk programs at least once or twice a week.
I just needed to rant.
While I’m on the subject of Jimmy Carter — I caught this snip in one of Joe Scarborough’s programs last week. Scarborough was talking about President Bush’s plummeting popularity and comparing the Bush White House to the Carter White House.
SCARBOROUGH: … Itâ€˜s enough to remind many voters of another president who, in the words of Elvis Costello, just couldnâ€˜t stand up for falling down. In fact, things got so bad for Jimmy Carter that he was attacked on a fishing trip by a dreaded killer rabbit, a metaphor for an administration going nowhere fast, other than out of power. Welcome to the United States of malaise, 1979-style.
Itâ€˜s getting ugly out there, and to talk about how badly things are going for this president and the country, hereâ€˜s Phil Bronstein. Heâ€˜s the editor of â€œThe San Francisco Chronicle.â€ We also have A.B. Stoddard with â€œThe Hillâ€ and MSNBC political analyst Craig Crawford.
Craig, happy news out thereâ€”beatings, robberies, record low ratings, motorcade collisions. Youâ€˜ve got Iraq out of control. How much worse can things get for this president before they turn around?
CRAIG CRAWFORD, â€œCONGRESSIONAL QUARTERLY,â€ MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:
Well, he can sing that old song, If it werenâ€˜t for bad luck, Iâ€˜d have no luck at all.
CRAWFORD: It has been pretty rough. Iâ€˜ve got to agree with you about Jimmy Carter, although it pains me to do so. I worked in his White House and loved the guy. But his White House did unravel. And what happens is, you know, each story just sort of compounds on the next one and it becomes a story line that doesnâ€˜t go away. It is like Gerry Ford falling down, and you know, Al Gore the serial exaggerator, John Kerry the flip-flopper. I mean, once the story line gets started, any little thing that can be attached to just becomes a train that canâ€˜t be stopped.
SCARBOROUGH: And Craig, with Jimmy Carter, you, of course, had the Iranian hostage crisis and a terrible economy at the time. But then youâ€˜d have the killer rabbit episode, and then Jimmy Carter would run a 10K and heâ€˜d collapse.
CRAWFORD: Yes. …
Here there’s an interesting discussion of what went wrong in the Carter Administration. While I mostly agree with this discussion I want to skip ahead to this part:
SCARBOROUGH: Youâ€˜re right. With George W. Bush, itâ€˜s been the arrogance, the arrogance to say he couldnâ€˜t remember making a single mistake over his first four years.
A.B. STODDARD, â€œTHE HILLâ€: People donâ€˜t want to hear that.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, too arrogant to read the newspapers, too arrogant to listen to Colin Powell, too arrogant to listen to criticism, too arrogant to pick up the phone call and even talk to his father regularly about the war.
Craig, I want you to listen to this speech from Jimmy Carter. Weâ€˜re just going to play a clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIMMY CARTER, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We can see this crisis in the growing doubt about the meaning of our own lives and in the loss of a unity of purpose for our nation. The erosion of our confidence in the future is threatening to destroy the social and the political fabric of America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCARBOROUGH: Boy, Craig, that makes you want to get out there and wave the flag. Now…
CRAWFORD: … Iâ€˜ve got to sayâ€”first of all, you know, he never used word â€œmalaiseâ€ in that speech, by the way.
SCARBOROUGH: No, he didnâ€˜t. No, he didnâ€˜t. Cold comfort, though, if you actually read the text of that speech.
CRAWFORD: And I thought that was one of theâ€”I actually think that was a profound moment because a president tellingâ€”not telling the people what they want to hear. Now, we can debate that speech all we want, but that was one of the rare times you saw a president actually telling Americans what he thoughtâ€”telling them something that he believed that wasnâ€˜t something they wanted to hear, which I thought was kind of refreshing.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, but they threw him out for a…
STODDARD: I agree with Craig.
SCARBOROUGH: They threw him out for a guy who said Americaâ€˜s best days really did lie ahead and…
CRAWFORD: Iâ€˜ll tell youâ€”this man…
SCARBOROUGH: … Ronald Reagan won…
CRAWFORD: Over and over again, Jimmy Carter warned Americans about the oil crisis, about the dependence on foreign oil. He did everything he could think of, including putting solar panels on the White House, to try to get this country focused on that. And had the country listened to him at the time, I donâ€˜t think weâ€˜d be in a war in Iraq because we wouldnâ€˜t be dependent on oil from that region.
CRAWFORD: Thatâ€˜s my speech. …
… SCARBOROUGH: Iâ€˜ll see you tomorrow night on Thanksgiving. And Craig Crawford, sorry if I touched a nerve on Jimmy Carter.
SCARBOROUGH: I love the man.
CRAWFORD: Iâ€˜m a little sensitive about Jimmy. I admit that.
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, I can tell.
Actually, as I remember it, it was Craig Crawford who said “I love the man.” But it was so refreshing to see someone stand up for Jimmy Carter, and I thought you’d enjoy it.