John McCain’s Jimmy Carter ‘Flip Flop’

Jimmy Carter Scowl Photo The HuffPo PR department sent me an email entitled “McCain flip-flops on Jimmy Carter” touting a Seth Colter Walls post noting that John McCain has said nice things about Jimmy Carter in the past but is now saying mean things.

He points to a recent quip by McCain that, “Sen. Obama says that I’m running for Bush’s third term. It seems to me he’s running for Jimmy Carter’s second.” But back in 1999, McCain said that Carter had “the greatest, the noblest and loftiest intentions of any president, but he never really understood how to use the institution to obtain his goals.”

Not only are these thoughts not contradictory, they’re complementary. McCain isn’t running on a platform that Obama is a bad mean who wishes harm to his country but rather that he’s an inexperienced man who doesn’t understand practical realities.

Stretching things even further, Walls notes that some people who are McCain supporters are writing unkind things about former Carter Natoinal Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski to “stoke fears among voters for whom Israel’s security is a top concern” and yet McCain was “honored” to have Brzezinski on his team in 2000. That Beltway insiders respect Brzezinski and yet some operatives are trying to leverage some aspects of his legacy to their advantage is decidedly less than surprising.

The idea that candidates are supposed to see the world in black and white, with no nuance whatsoever, is a puzzling one, indeed.

Let me go on a limb now and predict the following:

  • McCain will simultaneously seek to distance himself from President Bush’s failures while embracing his successes
  • Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton will say much nicer things about each other henceforth than they have during the foregoing year and a half

For the most part, they won’t be lying or “flip-flopping” when so doing.

Photo: Matt Murphy Radio Program via Google

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. rodney dill says:

    Not only are these thoughts not contradictory, they’re complimentary

    or even complementary… 😉
    (sorry, couldn’t resist)

  2. Our Paul says:

    I love it. In my lifetime we have had more then a fistfull of Nobel Laureates,but only two Nobel Peace Laureates. The first one we shot, the second one the rabid Center Right is consuming for breakfast.

    Sigh, let none of us minimize the fervor of those who worship on the alter of ideology!

  3. David says:

    So you think McCain’s comparison was really meant to say that he thinks Obama’s intentions are lofty and noble but he’s just too inexperienced to execute them, right? In that case, he’s flip-flopping on Obama because I don’t think he really agrees that Obama’s intention to tax the richest 2% or pull out of Iraq on Day 1 are noble intentions. No, clearly McCain was fear mongering, trying to make Joe American who is already worried about $4 per gallon gas think that a vote for Obama is a vote for a return to gas lines of the 70’s. Why doesn’t he refute Obama with good ideas of his own rather than try and create some scary link to someone else?

    And as far as Carter is concerned, I’d love to see either of our candidates have half the moral fortitude and intelligence of this Sunday School teaching peanut farmer from Plains who became President not because he was a master politician (which he certainly was not), but because he was honest, hard-working, and intelligent.