Carter v. Miller

Zell Miller's in for it now: he's made Jimmy Carter angry.  In an open letter  printed in the Atlanta Journal—Constitution, Carter accuses Miller of betraying the trust of every Georgia Democrat since Reconstruction:

You seem to have forgotten that loyal Democrats elected you as mayor [of Young Harris] and as state senator. Loyal Democrats, including members of my family and me, elected you as state senator, lieutenant governor and governor. It was a loyal Democrat, Lester Maddox, who assigned you to high positions in the state government when you were out of office. It was a loyal Democrat, Roy Barnes, who appointed you as U.S. senator when you were out of office. By your historically unprecedented disloyalty, you have betrayed our trust.

 Great Georgia Democrats who served in the past, including Walter George, Richard Russell, Herman Talmadge and Sam Nunn, disagreed strongly with the policies of Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and me, but they remained loyal to the party in which they gained their public office. Other Democrats, because of philosophical differences or the race issue, like Bo Callaway and Strom Thurmond, at least had the decency to become Republicans.

The principle of party loyalty is a serious one.  Ask Hugh Hewitt.  But it's hardly reasonable to expect Miller to pay fealty to dead Georgia Democratic icons for elections won 40 years ago.  Many of those same voters who elected Miller to office have been voting Republican in recent years.  The Georgia Democratic machine can no longer deliver statewide office, Congressional delegations, or legislative majorities.  Despite Carter's reference to the "race issue," I don't think this has much to do with segregation.

The reference to Strom Thurmond is a little bizarre.  Thurmond became a Republican, but only many years after 1948.  That was the year that Thurmond split the Democratic Party for a third—party run.  Had he not carried several solid Democratic southern states, it's unlikely the election would even have been close.  It's reasonable to conclude that Thurmond did much more damage to the party than Miller has.  As long as he was going out of state, Carter would have been better off mentioning another Democrat—turned—Republican, Ronald Reagan.

I, myself, served in the Navy from 1942 to 1953, and, as president, greatly strengthened our military forces and protected our nation and its interests in every way. I don't believe this warrants your referring to me as a pacifist.

No Jimmy Carter letter would be complete without references to his own career.  While we thank him for his Naval service, it's no more relevant to his performance as president than Kerry's Vietnam record would be. His performance as president includes, ahem, the small matter of a "hollow military," used to great embarrassment in Desert One.  His unwillingness even to threaten Iran with effective military force helped project an American image of weakness that did little to protect the country. Carter's weakness and passivity strengthened the prestige of the mullahs' regime, which became the wellspring of the Islamofascist terror we now fight. 

His secret letter to Security Council members and NATO allies encouraging them to defect from the Gulf War I coalition in 1991 certainly merits Miller's contempt.  One might well ask Carter about the Poles, Romanians, Israelis, Nicaraguans, Cubans, and Venezuelans, to name a few peoples whose trust he has betrayed over the years.

Zell, I have known you for 42 years and have, in the past, respected you as a trustworthy political leader and a personal friend. But now, there are many of us loyal Democrats who feel uncomfortable in seeing that you have chosen the rich over the poor, unilateral pre—emptive war over a strong nation united with others for peace, lies and obfuscation over the truth, and the political technique of personal character assassination as a way to win elections or to garner a few moments of applause. These are not the characteristics of great Democrats whose legacy you and I have inherited.

Miller has been caucusing with the Republicans for two years now.  Remember, he was heavily courted as the Republican answer to Jim Jeffords, but waited to make that parliamentary switch until after the 2002 elections.  He could have named his price for changing, but instead chose to wait until doing so wouldn't have affected the balance of power. And by caucusing without changing parties, he denied himself any committee chairmanships.

The current Democratic Party is Carter's ultimate victory.  As Steven Hayward recently wrote,

While Mr. Carter may have been a pariah in the Democratic Party for a long time, the same principles that made a hash of his presidency have become the core of today's liberalism. And the central principle, as applied to foreign policy at least, can be summarized in one sentence: Whereas Ronald Reagan and his successors believe in peace through strength, Mr. Carter and his successors believe in peace through talk....Far from being a marginal figure in the Democratic Party, Mr. Carter is the pivotal influence in moving Democratic Party liberalism away from the Cold War realism of Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy and Scoop Jackson, and cementing it as a McGovernite party.

Miller might have changed parties, but the Democrats don't have such large national majorities that they can be tossing members away carelessly.  And Miller would have been much less effective as GOP Senator.  As a Republican, he would have been another Phil Gramm.  As a Democrat, he shows people just how far left his party has moved.  Carter can't stand Zell Miller reminding people about that.

Joshua Sharf writes the View From a Height blog from Denver

Zell Miller's in for it now: he's made Jimmy Carter angry.  In an open letter  printed in the Atlanta Journal—Constitution, Carter accuses Miller of betraying the trust of every Georgia Democrat since Reconstruction:

You seem to have forgotten that loyal Democrats elected you as mayor [of Young Harris] and as state senator. Loyal Democrats, including members of my family and me, elected you as state senator, lieutenant governor and governor. It was a loyal Democrat, Lester Maddox, who assigned you to high positions in the state government when you were out of office. It was a loyal Democrat, Roy Barnes, who appointed you as U.S. senator when you were out of office. By your historically unprecedented disloyalty, you have betrayed our trust.

 Great Georgia Democrats who served in the past, including Walter George, Richard Russell, Herman Talmadge and Sam Nunn, disagreed strongly with the policies of Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and me, but they remained loyal to the party in which they gained their public office. Other Democrats, because of philosophical differences or the race issue, like Bo Callaway and Strom Thurmond, at least had the decency to become Republicans.

The principle of party loyalty is a serious one.  Ask Hugh Hewitt.  But it's hardly reasonable to expect Miller to pay fealty to dead Georgia Democratic icons for elections won 40 years ago.  Many of those same voters who elected Miller to office have been voting Republican in recent years.  The Georgia Democratic machine can no longer deliver statewide office, Congressional delegations, or legislative majorities.  Despite Carter's reference to the "race issue," I don't think this has much to do with segregation.

The reference to Strom Thurmond is a little bizarre.  Thurmond became a Republican, but only many years after 1948.  That was the year that Thurmond split the Democratic Party for a third—party run.  Had he not carried several solid Democratic southern states, it's unlikely the election would even have been close.  It's reasonable to conclude that Thurmond did much more damage to the party than Miller has.  As long as he was going out of state, Carter would have been better off mentioning another Democrat—turned—Republican, Ronald Reagan.

I, myself, served in the Navy from 1942 to 1953, and, as president, greatly strengthened our military forces and protected our nation and its interests in every way. I don't believe this warrants your referring to me as a pacifist.

No Jimmy Carter letter would be complete without references to his own career.  While we thank him for his Naval service, it's no more relevant to his performance as president than Kerry's Vietnam record would be. His performance as president includes, ahem, the small matter of a "hollow military," used to great embarrassment in Desert One.  His unwillingness even to threaten Iran with effective military force helped project an American image of weakness that did little to protect the country. Carter's weakness and passivity strengthened the prestige of the mullahs' regime, which became the wellspring of the Islamofascist terror we now fight. 

His secret letter to Security Council members and NATO allies encouraging them to defect from the Gulf War I coalition in 1991 certainly merits Miller's contempt.  One might well ask Carter about the Poles, Romanians, Israelis, Nicaraguans, Cubans, and Venezuelans, to name a few peoples whose trust he has betrayed over the years.

Zell, I have known you for 42 years and have, in the past, respected you as a trustworthy political leader and a personal friend. But now, there are many of us loyal Democrats who feel uncomfortable in seeing that you have chosen the rich over the poor, unilateral pre—emptive war over a strong nation united with others for peace, lies and obfuscation over the truth, and the political technique of personal character assassination as a way to win elections or to garner a few moments of applause. These are not the characteristics of great Democrats whose legacy you and I have inherited.

Miller has been caucusing with the Republicans for two years now.  Remember, he was heavily courted as the Republican answer to Jim Jeffords, but waited to make that parliamentary switch until after the 2002 elections.  He could have named his price for changing, but instead chose to wait until doing so wouldn't have affected the balance of power. And by caucusing without changing parties, he denied himself any committee chairmanships.

The current Democratic Party is Carter's ultimate victory.  As Steven Hayward recently wrote,

While Mr. Carter may have been a pariah in the Democratic Party for a long time, the same principles that made a hash of his presidency have become the core of today's liberalism. And the central principle, as applied to foreign policy at least, can be summarized in one sentence: Whereas Ronald Reagan and his successors believe in peace through strength, Mr. Carter and his successors believe in peace through talk....Far from being a marginal figure in the Democratic Party, Mr. Carter is the pivotal influence in moving Democratic Party liberalism away from the Cold War realism of Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy and Scoop Jackson, and cementing it as a McGovernite party.

Miller might have changed parties, but the Democrats don't have such large national majorities that they can be tossing members away carelessly.  And Miller would have been much less effective as GOP Senator.  As a Republican, he would have been another Phil Gramm.  As a Democrat, he shows people just how far left his party has moved.  Carter can't stand Zell Miller reminding people about that.

Joshua Sharf writes the View From a Height blog from Denver