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Hitting the Nail on the Head

Scripps-Howard News Service 10.16.02
Balint Vazsonyi

By all appearances, former president Jimmy Carter is a thoroughly decent man who couldn't hurt a fly and doesn't have a mean bone in his body.

The decision to award him the Nobel Peace Prize would not necessarily call for a comment; the roster of more recent laureates has long stripped the once-coveted honor of being an honor. Rather, it is his acceptance of the explanatory notes attached to the Prize that must not pass without notice.

Over the years, the Albert Schweizers and George C. Marshalls have given way to the Yassir Arafats and Rigoberta Menchus. But that would merely make acceptance of the prize embarrassing. What makes it offensive on this occasion is the calculated insult to America and Americans, and the acquiescence of a former president of the United States in those insults.

James Earl Carter, Jr. has been "honored" because of his opposition to the overwhelming majority of his fellow-Americans who are not prepared to overlook the assault and murder inflicted upon them a year ago, and their president whose attitude reflects the national mood.

It is not difficult to see why Jimmy Carter has a problem with military preparedness. His armed forces consisted of three helicopters two of which crashed in the desert.

It is not difficult to see why Jimmy Carter has a problem with the idea of protecting Americans. He let our entire embassy personnel in Tehran remain hostage at the mercy of the Iranian mob so long as he remained president.

It is not difficult to see why Jimmy Carter has a problem with our Department of Defense building new bases in the Middle East, rendering unreliable Saudi Arabia irrelevant. He gave away one of the key components of America's security: the Panama Canal.

It is not difficult to see why Jimmy Carter has a problem with a president who cuts taxes. On his watch, mortgage rates soared to 19% and Americans, for the first time, saw themselves without a future.

It is not difficult to see why Jimmy Carter has a problem with a president who wants to increase domestic oil supplies. On his watch, lines at the pump became the standard, and he calmly told us (in 1979!) to expect gasoline at $2 per gallon "any day now."

(It never happened. And after the last military engagement in the Gulf, gas prices sank to below $1.)

But it is difficult - no: impossible - to see why Jimmy Carter would fail to realize that the United States of America, warts and all, has been by far the best Habitat for Humanity.

War and peace are very much on our minds just now. I will confess to being somewhat tainted. As I was growing up in Soviet-occupied Hungary, I couldn't fail to notice everything being named for peace. The Soviet Empire was called "The Peace Camp," as opposed to the imperialist war mongers. The 10% salary reduction forced upon starving workers in the form of "voluntary contributions" was called "peace bond." Apartment buildings that were to be praiseworthy posted the notice, "this house is a Peace House."

Meanwhile, every holiday was marked by the endless parade of Soviet rockets, armor and artillery. We practiced shooting daily at targets depicting America's current president. If someone was a few minutes late to school, it was deemed treason in the war against the chained dogs of America and their lackeys.

Yes, I am tainted when it comes to slogans about peace. I am also mindful of the difference between those who believe that being nice to Castro will make Castro nice, and those who lay down their lives to rid the world of the Castros. I am thinking about the latter.

I am thinking about the latter because, unlike James Earl Carter, Jr., I have been living in the real world and thus realize what the loss of the Panama Canal to the Chinese may - no: will - cost in American lives some day. Sooner or later we shall have to take it back at great cost while our navy is hostage to the closure of Suez and Panama (the two passages that connect the seas) and deprived of safe harbor at the Southern tip of Africa, now controlled by hostile forces.

When that happens, even Jimmy Carter will realize where he hit the nail on the head.

On the coffins of America's bravest.