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Jimmy Carter spills the beans on Joe Biden spilling the beans on Edward Kennedy's political plot

Democrats then Senator Joe Biden and then President Jimmy Carter in the Oval Office

It seems like only 32 years ago next week that Democratic President Jimmy Carter was going through his first and last midterm election as head of that party.

Although in late 1978 the country was beginning to experience the high energy prices and inflation that would help propel Republican Ronald Reagan into the White House two years later, JC did pretty well in the midterm, by the standards of 2010's outlook anyway.

Carter's party kept control of both sides of Capitol Hill by losing only three Senate seats and 15 House seats. Unnoticed at that time was the fact that those Republican victories brought... town a couple of new representatives named Newt Gingrich and Dick Cheney. Voters in Texas delivered an inauspicious House defeat to a neophyte named George W. Bush, which would turn out to be his only career political loss.

Who can ever forget Jimmy Carter in those cardigan sweaters retiring to his private study to read what seemed to be every book ever written? After riding into town as a reforming outsider following the sordid GOP mess of Watergate and the Nixon pardon, Carter was seen by many within his own party's D.C. establishment as, well, an outsider. If you could ever imagine Washington acting like a closed club of self-defined elites.Democrats Edward Kennedy and Joe Biden

Since his involuntary political retirement in January 1981, Carter has gone on to write numerous books himself.

The latest is "White House Diary," which by several accounts is a good, candid historical read for the dwindling number of people who can recall those years when "Shadow Dancing" and "Stayin' Alive" were the hit songs.

And no one knew about this Hawaiian high school basketball player named Barry Obama.

One of the not-so-insignificant stories in Carter's new book, which he shared on CNN with John King on Tuesday, involved a three-year, Shakespearean-like political plot by certain Democratic senators to dump this Georgian with the cheesy smile from the national ticket in 1980 and to restore national party power to its rightful Northeastern cliques.

The plot was led by Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy, the brother of one assassinated president and one assassinated presidential aspirant. As early as 1978, Kennedy was lining up fellow senators to back his planned coup.

Carter, according to Carter, remained clueless of the developing rebellion that would severely complicate his later legislative agenda.

Until one day this young fellow Joe Biden made an Oval Office appointment. As one of those just-get-the-job-done-state-chief-executive-governors that Americans tend to favor in the White House, Carter wasn't big on the sort of nonstop legislative schmoozing and maneuvering that still consumes those swamp denizens.

And dinky Delaware's Sen. Biden was not yet known as a back-slapping, effing gaffe-prone talking machine.Democrats Joe Biden and Barack Obama outside the Oval Office

Carter was receptive to a friendly chat because Biden had helped him in 1976 and, according to the old-fashioned rules, Carter returned the help during Biden's first reelection campaign in 1978.

But Biden didn't come calling to predict that once again the Pittsburgh Steelers would beat the Dallas Cowboys in the next Super Bowl.

He was there to alert the president that the friendly hi-how-are-you-doing-senator from Massachusetts was secretly planning a political revolt to dump Carter and had already approached Biden and others to lock in support.

Carter never forgot that intelligence tip. As a result, Carter was successfully able in the end to foil Kennedy's presidential bid and win the ultimately dubious distinction of winning six states and 49 electoral votes to Reagan's 44 states and 489 electoral votes.

As another result, Biden comes off rather well in the Carter book.

Over many ensuing years in the Senate, Biden was able to work closely with Kennedy and cry at his funeral last year. And although he competed in 2007-08 against both fellow senators Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton, Biden successfully built useful relationships there too, leading to his 2008 choice as Obama's running mate and on to become the nation's 47th vice president.

Carter told King he's so busy with his Carter Center international work that he hasn't had time for domestic politics, even if the party wanted him, which might be doubtful. We haven't seen much of Walter Mondale or Michael Dukakis either since their defeats.

"I've been pretty well removed from the Democratic Party affairs since I left office," Carter said. "And it's not because I -- I wouldn't like to help. I hope the Democrats do well. But I don't think we're going to have very good luck this time."

Straight from the mouth of No. 39 to the ears of No. 44.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: White House, 1978; Associated Press (Kennedy and Biden, 2006); Pete Souza / White House (Obama and Biden, 2010).

Comments () | Archives (5)

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Intersesting timing. No one would believe him if he told a positive story about Obama, so he tells a positive story about Obama's VP, and the villian is the deceased Kennedy (second time Carter has told about him being the devil)

Carter lost the election in 1980 because Ed Kennedy to spite him gave Carter lukewarm support. He let the Kennedy Democrats in NorthEast vote for Reagan. The media ignored this Kennedy treachery. In that respect, as an Independent, I have high respect for Mrs. Clinton. Though she lost a close primary election to Obama, she was extraordinarily gracious enough to bring her Democrats to join hands with Obama, and get a big win for President Obama in 2008. Else, if Mrs. Clinton sat it out as Kennedy did, McCain would be in the White House today.

Carter, Kennedy and Biden huh? I'd just as soon trust John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson and Pretty Boy Floyd.

Carter remains a bitter person after losing the 1980 elections to Reagan and will rather ascribe it to lack of support from Kennedy instead of his poor policies which drove the American economy to the ground. It was on the basis of his anti-people and failed policies that Reagan built his unstoppable movement. He refused help offered by Kennedy at least two years before the election. Why must he also choose to talk about EMK when he knows the man does not have a right of reply. Let oldman JC go and sulk else where. He is just looking for cheap attention!

The more interesting story, the more important story, is that Ted Kennedy was a traitor.

He conducted foreign policy with the Soviets, despite the constitutional provision that only the President can conduct foreign policy.

Ted Kennedy almost single handedly preserved Communism. As Regan's arms race was bankrupting the Soviets and leading to the fall of the iron curtain and Berlin wall, Kennedy sought to appease the Soviets and provide comfort to these enemies of freedom.

By extension Obama and his Democratic party, which continues appease and cajole tyrants and dictators, act contrary to American interests. Democrats must repudiate the traitorous acts by Kennedy and clearly state their intent to stand against the enemies of Democracy.


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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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