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Are Obama's critics racist? Jimmy Carter thinks so

September 16, 2009 |  6:15 am

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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