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Are Obama's critics racist? Jimmy Carter thinks so

Former President Jimmy Carter, who has a habit of stirring controversy, said this morning that "an overwhelming portion" of those opposing President Obama's policies are racist.

In an interview with NBC's Brian Williams, Carter lobbed a bomb into Washington politics, already seething with passions over healthcare, federal spending and whether a congressman named Wilson should apologize to the House for screaming "You lie!' to a president.

Here's what Carter said:

The charge is likely to ignite a firestorm of anger, and could provoke a backlash among those who would oppose Obama's healthcare reform whatever his racial identity. One site calls it evidence of a "failed ex-President making this ignorant, outlandish charge."

Carter, who has been an ex-president for almost 30 years, has done this sort of thing before. The 39th president angered the Clinton White House with his frequent diplomatic freelancing with various dictators around the world.

Of course Carter has been an equal-opportunity thorn to White Houses of both parties, making life difficult for Republican presidents as well as Democrats. Among other things, he called George W. Bush the worst president in history in international relations.

The current bombshell is likely to make life difficult for the Obama White House, which as MSNBC's Chuck Todd noted this morning, will now have to rebut the impression that it played the race card to win votes on healthcare.

Maybe it's not too late for Carter, who turns 85 on Oct. 1, to learn tact.

-- Johanna Neuman

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He was:
- The worst president to serve during my lifetime
- Totally inept as a statesman
- The one who opened the pandora's box of radical islam
- Out of touch with his constituency
- Accordingly, voted out of office after one unremarkable term
He is still al of the above plus:
- Irrelevant and lacking any credibility
- A total laughable clown racked by guilt

Who in their right mind would believe a bunch of loud Republican political hacks over a religious, socially active (Habitat for Humanity), 85 year old ex president with nothing to gain. The fact is there are 50 million of us uninsured Americans out there.

What a crock. Race has nothing to do with being smart or stupid, wise or foolish. Obama should be subject to the same scrutiny as any other president and to suggest disagreements in policy or philosophy are racially based is petty and shows their and his weakness. If his policies cannot stand the challenge they are not very good. The poeple of this country will have to live with the consequences of what he does for a very long time. We have a right, and obligation, to challenge every aspect. Carter's comments demean us all.

Maybe it's not too late for Johanna Neuman to learn to recognize an honest man.

I think Jimmy Carter is a racist...I mean he is from Georgia... He did soooo well as President eh that now he is the authority? Puhleze....

Keep you stupid opinions for the Keith UberNutz or Rachel Madcow show and just go away

For Carter calling George W. Bush the worst president in history in international relations is selling it short. He [Bush] is the worst president in history, PERIOD!

Maybe Carter is right. He is saying these things because he doesn't have to play politics (kissing butt to other politicians). He's not playing the game anymore, so he can speak his mind (where politicians, in fear of losing votes/support, cannot).

Jimmy Carter said "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."

The key words are 'intensely demonstrated animosity' - what Carter is referring to is NOT every single person who disagrees with Obama; he is specifically calling out people who seem to only be able to express their feelings toward Obama through abject hostility.

It is baffling that this opinion can be so quickly repackaged by media pundits as 'Carter Calls Critics Racist'. That's not what he said, and you know it.

This article represents the most irresponsible type of incendiary nonsense, and as for Ms Neuman's emphatic rejection of Carter's opinion, the lady doth protest too much, methinks.

Maybe it's not to late for Johanna Neuman to inhabit our planet. Of course there are many racists involved in the virulent opposition to Obama. But the Times headline itself deceptively misrepresents Carter's position as suggesting that any critic of Obama is racist. Jimmy Carter is right and his words were very measured - he did not say that a majority of Obama's critics are racist as NBC's Chuck Todd suggested he said. A "portion" of racists can be overwhelming when all to many people are willing to stand aside and excuse their hate speech as something other than what it is. Wilson has led the fight to keep the Confederate cross, a symbol of the uber racist South, in his state flag. Speaking unfiltered truth, as President Carter is doing, should not be labeled controversial as the LA Times insists.

"Maybe it's not too late for Carter, who turns 85 on Oct. 1, to learn tact."

I think Jimmy Carter is well versed on tact and sometimes a tactful approach does not get a blunt message across.

So Jimmy Carter is going to piss off the establishment. What else is new? He doesn't work in DC politics anymore, there isn't any constituency or interest he has to appease. He is a private citizen and is only voicing what the rest of us already know, people DO have a fear of a black president. Or have you not been keeping up with right wing blogs?

Jimmy Carter, thank you for telling it like it is, for following your conscience in retirement and for addressing the public like people instead of like sheep.

Johanna Neuman, I don't know how old you are but maybe it's not too late for you to learn to end a post just one sentence early.

I love the way Jimmy Carter tells the truth. He is one of the best presidents the USA has ever had.

Who cares what Carter thinks! He is so out of touch and is such a sad, dinosaur liberal apologist. I am sure liberal protesters and those in Congress must all be Communists since there are a few Communists amongst them… What a ridiculous lack of class, intelligence, and logic to try pigeonholing all tea party protesters and outspoken Republican politicians and supporters as racist! It is really sad for them to attack these people with totally this unsupported, dirty language. They can’t stand the fact that Americans from different ideologies, classes, and ethnicities will NOT be forced fed these socialist beliefs by adopting huge government programs of control and spending thus limited our freedoms and choices that they so cherish! Cater should give up his Nobel Peace Prize immediately and move to Cuba…

Just because Jimmy had "lust in his heart" doesn't mean everyone has hate in theirs...

The only thing bubbling up is Carters southern racial stupidity.

President Carter is correct. End of Story

It is about time that somebody speaks the truth. All of these outlandish tea-party demonstrations, the stupid outbursts and questioning of the President's birthplace are based on RACISM. Many folks cannot accept the fact that a black person was elected President. This is unacceptable behavior and we need to return to a true discourse rather than a shouting down of opposing views. All should respect the President, the institution and accept defeat (i.e., conservative republicans). Go Jimmy Carter.

Carter is, of course, correct in every respect. But, he is talking about latent rather than overt, conscious reacism. The failure to make this distinction clear in the public debate contributes to the reigning confusion, and leads to facile public denials such as Wilson's. Thought it is a step in the right direction, we have not overcome our problem with racism by electing a black president. What we have done is to put tremendous pressure on the unspoken and even subconscious attitudes toward race that constitute a greater barrier to racial equality in 21st-century America than do overt racist beliefs and gestures. It is these hidden attitudes that, under the provocative condition of a black president, are bubbling to the surface--Carter's metaphor.

I concur with J.C.

Pres. Carter is taking a lot of heat for merely stating the obvious, for noting the 800 lbs. gorilla in the room. The thinly veiled racism at play since Obama was elected in a land slide, has been horrifying, disappointing, and totally predictable. What else would you expect from a country that recently elected G.W. Bush twice! Sure enough of us got sick of the Republican party to get them out, but all those who kept them in all those years didn't just go away, they got vocal, and ugly, and embarrassing.

"Tact, schmact," I say! One of the perks of advancing age is the ability to speak the truth without the unreasoning fear of repercussions that pervades so much of our public discourse. Mr. President, let 'er rip. It's a breath of fresh air, even when it's problematic for our often overly-politic Obama White House.

WHILE I DISAGREE WITH THE SCOPE OF FORMER PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER'S ASSESSMEMNT OF RACISTS OPPOSITION, I DO BELIEVE, HOWEVER, THAT OBAMA HAS SUFFERED POLITICALLY DOWN RACIAL LINES MORE THAN ANY OTHER PRESIDENT IN HISTORY. FOR ANYONE TO BE "ANGERED" DEOMONSTRATES THAT CARTER MAY HAVE A VALID POINT. TO DEFLECT WITH "ANGER" SIMPLY SUGGEST THAT YOU ARE RACIST & LACK THE INNER SOPHISCATION TO PROPERLY UNDERSTAND THE GESTURE AT IT'S FOUNDATION. CARTER MISSED THE POINT BUT LET'S NOT MISS HIS POINT.

Did not most of America vote and elect a President who happens to be black? You can't have it both ways!!!

Now why would anyone think that South Carolina's strongest supporter of the Confederate flag flying over their capitol dome, not to mention earlier white only election policies, would have the faintest scintilla of racism in his good ole boy bones.

Right on, Jimmy Carter. Speaking truth gets harder and harder these days, doesn't it. Now we can sit back and watch the 'accused' persist too much.

Wow! I had to check to see if I was still reading the LA Times and not a zombie version of the Herald Examiner. Are you kidding us Johanna Neuman? Please Great Newspaper God in the sky - please don't let the LA Times sink any lower. Enough is enough. Leave us some shreds of dignity in this City of Angels.
By the way readers, check out how the still-great paper, the NY Times, covered the exact same subject matter. And NO, I'm not a New Yorker. I was born and raised, and continue to live right here in the San Fernando Valley, thank you very much.
President Carter has hit it right on the head and reasonable thinking persons who've lived a few years of life in the US - especially if they've spent some time studying our history - can see this (the racist aspect of most - not all - but most of this hostility) for what it is. And certainly the cynicism of the Republican politicians and radio/tv self-serving blowhards who fan these flames is most obvious.
And finally, what gaul for a no-doubt younger-than-85 writer to state that "Carter" (not "President Carter") needs to learn tact.
Ummm. Maybe YOU should, young energetic one. Oh, and maybe a US history class should be mixed in there someday as well.
Best regards, Drusiano Solari (A once big fan of the LA Times).

So, simply disagreeing with someone who is a different race than you is now racist? Give me a break! Carter was a horrible President whose work with Habitat For Humanity is to be looked at as the noblest of gestures. However, these comments detract from all of the good he has done since he was kicked out of office.

I think it was irresponsible of Brian Williams to air the opinions of someone who is just trying to stir the pot.

I admire former President Carter for telling the truth about the racist attitudes of some of Obama's political opponants. No congressman would ever yell "You lie!" at a sitting president if he was white. People would never complain about the President addressing schoolchildren in classrooms if he was white. Perhaps the poor conduct of recent Presidents (Dubya, Bill Clinton) has lowered the respect for the office of the Presidency, but Obama has done nothing to deserve this kind of hateful treatment. Let's argue politics, not personalities.

Where are the stories about Acorn, Van Jones and many others? What about the CBO's estimates of the cost of Government Health Care which is being totally ignored by the administration? It's clear MSNBC as well as the so-called "Mainstream Media" are completely out of touch with the real majority of this great country as demonstrated by the lack of reporting of stories that shine light on Obama and his subordinates. Maybe your ratings would improve if you put your bias aside and actually do some real reporting.

I don't recall Jimmy Carter being a particularly effective or superior president to all the other presidents we've had in history so I'm not sure why he feels he has the right to be a harsh critic and judge of anybody else as president. Of course he has a right to express his opinions but not at the risk of inciting more racial divide amongst the US citizens. I voted for Mr. Obama and I knew he was an African American man when I voted for him. Now that he's the President, I don't agree with everything he says and everything he does but it's certainly not because of his skin color or I'm racist, I just simply don't agree with him. So for Mr. Carter to say that people who criticize Mr. Obama and don't agree with him are racist is really irresponsible. Mr. Obama won both the popular vote and the electoral vote so to me that means most Americans were fine with him being African American and after being the President, he is still African American, so just because we don't agree with him doesn't mean that we're racist.

How does anyone articulate a truthful response to President Carter without him taking our truthful words and twisting them - and making them inflammatorily "racist" simply because Jimmy Carter and Jimmy Carter alone chooses to NOT critique and hold the current president accountable. HE would rather NOT evaluate each sentence and statement and fact provided by President Obama, because to do so would be ONLY and ALWAYS racist of any of us - not just Joe Wilson? And yet the dems can boo and jeer and call Bush a liar - then and now - and none of that is racist in intent and content - toward the president of these united states? Come on. Incredible. Discredited. Jimmy Carter is not just "controversial" he is anti-American. And irrelevant. And thinks Americans cannot question, hold accountable and call out to OUR president whe he lies to all of us - no matter his racial makeup? No way, President Carter. No way. And I am not one bit "racist" and neither is Joe Wilson - and you know so. Incredible...

Seriously? Did any of you journalists even listen to what Carter said? "...an overwhelming portion of THE INTENSELY DEMONSTRATED ANIMOSITY towards President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he's African American." Did Carter say most of the opposition to Obama is because he's black? No. Not even close. Quit making a scandal where there is none.

It's ludicrous for Jimmy Carter to think Obama's critics are racist. Obama criticized the Bush administration for spending too much, yet he spends more than all other presidents. He's constantly on the run, never do work in washingtion, have too many questionable czars and shady characters around him today. When people don't like a president's policy they are most likely to voice an opposing opionion because of what he say and do, not because of his race.

President Carter is right on target. While not all of President Obama's critics are racist, you have to admit that whatever this American of African descent does, he can do nothing to suit them. Notice the Glenn Beck Klan rally over the weekend. Nazi signs and confederate flags have a way of getting to those right-wing rallies.
Is it coincidental that most of the President's critics are "Repobstructionist" senators and representatives who speak with southern accents?
Another thing- covert and overt racists seldom admit to being as such.

Oh come on. Is it really controversial that many or most of the anti-Obama crazies don't like black people? I think we can all read between the lines if we are being honest with ourselves, as Jimmy Carter is. Joe Wilson is a racist. Glenn Beck is a racist. They're mostly pissed off because they think it's scary that a black man is running the country. There, I played the race card. Deal with it. (I'm white, for whatever it's worth.)

I absolutely agree with president carter, he spoke whet everyone has been too afraid to utter. racist representatives in congress

To learn tact...how old are you. Perhaps old enough to know the value of good character and how important telling thee truth is. Speaking truth to power has value in certain communities in America. Too bad yours isn't one of them.

The signs of the demonstrators told the truth of their feelings, racist to the bone. Take off your blinders Neumann and know if there was ever a time for character and ethics in American journalism that time is now. Grow some.

Carter is an Idiot. This is a horrible and brainless thing to say. So, now every time you disagree with the president, you are a racist? That does wonders for the political debate in this country. I suppose its ok for the liberals to call Bush a Nazi and other things. Where was Carter then? He was a terrible president and now he is a terrible ex-president.

what else do you attribute the overzealous right wing hate machine to if not his race? are they afraid of his moderate domestic agenda and pragmatic foreign policy?

most of these people don't know they're even doing it, but they fundamentally cannot accept the qualifications of a minority to be POTUS, despite Barack Obama basically being the definition of a "model minority".

Simply pathetic. I'm one of those white folks from the deep south, who has not a racist bone in my body. Bill Clinton may have made up his story about sitting in the back of the bus with the blacks when he was a teenager (he was in a Catholic School - the town did not have a public bus system at that time - a no-brainer)to protest segregation; I actually did it a number of times on the public bus. I used the "colored only" water fountains and bathrooms. I loved the black people around me, and found their life lessons the most important to me at that time.

I strongly oppose much of the Obama agenda (I like bits, however). I find President Obama to be aragant and full of himself. I have been shocked at his ease in constantly blaming others for our woes, and for so casually discarding the voices of so many. Bush was always a strong voice for the right of others to protest and to hold other views. Bush seldom, perhaps never, as president kept up the blame game for all the mess that he inherited.

Carter is not the first to play the race card in these many debates which are occuring; rahter many in the national media, and amongst the Democratic leadership (pundits, etc) have been playing the race card for many months now - for most anything they want to. They are also labeling whole blocks of people as hate mongers, idiots, uneducated, uninformed, astroturf, ignorant.. etc.

There are racists out there. There are radcials out there. It's best if we not give them a voice.

Carter crossed the line in in implying that Wilson was racist or that those who object to Obama's agenda are racist. He must be called on to publicly apologize. Perhaps Speaker foul mouth Pelosi could lead that effort.

Dear Jimmy,

I guess race explains everything in America!
Is race the reason why so many Black men in America have abandoned their families!

(p.s. I don't expect the LA Times to print this!).

Obama is the first president whose supporters can play the "race card" any time they want! How can we view him as a credible president if we can't even criticize him? W. wishes he had Obama's cards to play!

Jimma Cotta=moron of the century

Former President Carter has this nasty habit of speaking truth to power without regard to partisan advantage or disadvantage. While very few announce themselves as racists anymore, anyone who thinks that racism has died and is not integral to contemporary politics and society has lost contact with reality and is living in a dream world...

I agree with what Mr. Carter said.

Johanna, apparently you didn't even listen to Carter's words because you quoted him completely incorrectly at the top of this post. He said that "an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity" is due to racism. NOT " 'an overwhelming portion' of the people opposing President Obama's policies." Intensely demonstrating animosity is in no way the same thing as disagreeing with the president. In other words, Carter thinks people bringing guns to town halls are racist. He thinks people yelling at the president before Congress are racist. He never said people who don't support Obama's policies are racist, or that if you don't support reform, it must be because you're racist.

People who read your lazy reporting will believe he said something much more extreme and offensive than his true words conveyed, though. That means sensationalist reporters like you are the ones actually causing problems for the president. Clearly you're the one lacking tact, not to mention responsible journalism skills. I honestly cannot believe you're working for the Times considering how many skilled, veteran journalists with true integrity have been laid off in the last two years.

sometimes what a person says about a situation reveals more about the judgement of the person than the situation itself

Dear President Carter,

With the greatest respect, I want to thank you for your years of service to the country. But, sir, to equate criticizing the current president to being racist not only demeans your station as a former president and elder statesman, but also impugns the very foundation of democratic debate upon which our great and truly unique country was built, continues to be built.

Your arguments are misguided and intellectually bankrupt and I truly hope as many people as possible see them for what they are: hate speech.

If Jimmy Carter says it? Thats good enough for me.

Jimmy Carter does a good "bad cop."

THE EMPEROR’S NEW CLOTHES

The story has given rise to its common reference as a metaphor in numerous situations. Most commonly, the statement “the emperor has no clothes” is used to refer to a situation in which (at least in the opinion of those using the phrase) the majority of people are unwilling to state an obvious truth, out of fear of appearing stupid, unenlightened, sacrilegious, or unpatriotic, or perhaps out of “political correctness”. In such cases it is often implied that the motive and rationale for not seeing the obvious truth has become so ingrained that the majority do not even realize that they are perpetuating a falsehood.

In my opinion, Jimmy Carter is the little boy who cried “the emperor has no clothes. Thank you Mr. President!!!

Santi

 
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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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