Tales from the Trail

Thirty-two years after leaving office, Jimmy Carter gets big cheer

Jimmy Carter got a big hand and roar of approval from a festive and perhaps somewhat charitable crowd on Monday at the second inauguration of President Barack Obama.

Thirty-two years after leaving the White House as a defeated one-term president, the mostly Democratic gathering screamed approval for Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, as they arrived for the ceremony just outside the U.S. Capitol.

To be sure, former President Bill Clinton and his wife, outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a potential 2016 White House contender, received a much louder embrace.

But a grinning Carter was back and so were at least some of the cheers and applause that showered him when he was sworn in as reform-minded president in 1977 in the wake of the Watergate scandal that drove Richard Nixon from office.

All living former presidents are traditionally invited to the presidential inauguration.

Campaign’s over, so start campaigning

OBAMA/Finally get some shut-eye after Tuesday’s election? Well, rise and shine. 2012 is just around the corner and the presidential campaign is already getting under way.

Folks at the White House may be asking themselves if the humbled, chastened President Barack Obama will face a primary challenge from the Left.

That bit of speculation got churning after newly unemployed Senate Democrat Russ Feingold conceded defeat with the decidedly unchastened message: “It’s on to the next fight. It’s on to the next battle. It’s on to 2012. And it is on to our next adventure — forward!” FEINGOLD

from Summit Notebook:

Dodd Rejects Carter Criticism of Ted Kennedy

U.S. Senator Chris Dodd on Monday came to the defense of his old buddy, the late Senator Edward Kennedy, against new criticism by former President Jimmy Carter.

doddDodd rejected Carter's charge that Americans could have begun enjoying the benefits of sweeping healthcare long ago if Kennedy hadn't stopped a plan by Carter in 1979.

Speaking at the Reuters Summit, Dodd declared, "All I can say is that no one cared more about the issue" of healthcare than Kennedy, a fellow Democrat.

Brzezinski sees encouraging signs emerging from Haitian catastrophe

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It might sound Pollyannaish coming from anybody other than Zbigniew Brzezinski, the hard-nosed intellectual who was Jimmy Carter’s national security adviser. But he says the gigantic catastrophe in Haiti may suggest some good things about the state of the modern world.

“As I look at this tragedy and as I look at this enormous human suffering, I’m also a little bit encouraged by the symbolism of the collective global response,” Brzezinski said in an interview with MSNBC.

Help has arrived quickly not only from the United States, the country’s biggest and richest neighbor, but also from other countries including Brazil and China. That could be a hopeful sign of an emerging international template for responding to turmoil around the world, including in hot spots like Afghanistan.

The First Draft: Bill Clinton on race and the healthcare debate

Bill Clinton has tons of respect for Jimmy Carter. But he doesn’t agree that racism is a driving factor behind angry opposition to President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform agenda. OBAMA/

Like Carter, Clinton is a former Democratic governor of a Southern state who has spent years battling entrenched racism against blacks.

“I sympathize with where President Carter’s coming from. If you’re a white southerner and you’ve fought these battles a long time, you’re super-sensitive to any kind of discrimination based on race,” Clinton, a former Arkansas governor, said in an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

Protests against Obama: race or policy?

Former President Jimmy Carter said out loud what Democrats had been whispering for a while, that the protests against the country’s first black president are tinged with racism.

USA-POLITICS/Carter’s forceful words threw the issue into the forefront of public debate.

“I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he’s African American,” Carter said in an interview on NBC.

The First Draft: Healthcare, anger and race

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus is due to release a proposal Wednesday for reforming the $2.5 trillion U.S. healthcare system, giving a boost to President Barack Obama’s top domestic policy goal.

Or maybe not.

USA/Baucus has been working with two fellow Democrats and three Republicans — the so-called Gang of Six– to produce a bipartisan healthcare compromise. None of the other healthcare reform bills introduced so far have had Republican support.

The question is whether the Baucus effort will win over some Republicans. So far even the Republicans negotiating with him have shied away from pledging to vote for the measure.

Carter says race is issue for some Obama opponents

Some of President Barack Obama’s more demonstrative opponents list any number of reasons why they oppose him and why they’re angry — from the bank bailout, to his plan to overhaul the U.S. healthcare system, the direction the country is heading and the ballooning U.S. deficit. But former President Jimmy Carter thinks a lot of the opposition is really about Obama’s race.

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“I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man,” Carter said in an NBC interview on Tuesday.

Here’s what the Georgia Democrat had to say:
“I live in the South, and I’ve seen the South come a long way, and I’ve seen the rest of the country that share the South’s attitude toward minority groups at that time, particularly African Americans. “And that racism inclination still exists. And I think it’s bubbled up to the surface because of the belief among many white people, not just in the South but around the country, that African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great country. It’s an abominable circumstance, and it grieves me and concerns me very deeply.”

from Left field:

Baseball brings ‘em together: all 5 U.S. presidents

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It's one thing they can agree on... baseball. 

Major League Baseball is bringing all five living U.S. presidents together at next week's 80th All-Star Game.

President Barack Obama and his predecessors George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter will appear in a 7-minute video presentation as part of the U.S. sports league's all-star festivities on Tuesday in St. Louis. Baseball called it the first time all living U.S. presidents would participate in a ceremony at a sporting event.

The video address will be part of a pre-game ceremony honoring 30 men and women being recognized by MLB and People magazine for acts of giving and service to their communities. Each person represents one of the sport's 30 teams.