This is how a president appears without drawing too much attention:
Former President Jimmy Carter will be one of the speakers at next month’s Democratic National Convention — addressing the gathering by satellite on the opening night, Sept. 4.
The other living former Democratic president, Bill Clinton, already is scheduled to speak in person at the convention.
On the rostrum, Clinton will draw television coverage, appealing to voters whom the party is hoping to rally for President Barack Obama’s re-election. On the video screen, most of what Carter says in the convention hall will likely stay in the convention hall.
“President Carter is one of the greatest humanitarian leaders of our time and a champion of democracy around the globe,” said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the convention chairman. “A lifelong champion of human rights and investments in education and energy to spur economic development, President Carter will provide unique insight into President Obama’s ability to move our country forward and why we need his vision and leadership for a second term.”
The problem is that Carter’s administration is one that many Democrats would prefer to forget, that and its memories of lines at gasoline pumps, double-digit inflation and the U.S. Embassy hostages in Iran.
His one term was followed by 12 years of a Republican-occupied White House, including eight years of Ronald Reagan, now a Republican icon. In addition, Republicans ran against Carter for many years afterwards, much longer than the Democrats have been running against George W. Bush.
While Carter sucessfully brokered a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, and won the Nobel Peace Prize as a result, his later book on the Arab-Israeli conflict, “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid,” came under fire by the American Jewish community.
“The damage to the good name of Israel and the American Jewish community from your unwarranted attacks remains,” the Anti-Defamation League’s then-national chairman, Glen S. Lewy, and National Director Abraham H. Foxman said in a 2006 letter to Carter. “As does our outrage.”
Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said it was preferable to have Carter speak by satellite rather than in person.
“The further away he is, the happier I would be,” Foxman said in an interview. “It’s very difficult to totally eliminate a former Democratic president from any type of appearance. I’m glad it’s not in person. He’s flawed. He’s been biased and bigoted, especially on Israel, bordering on anti-Semitism. You can’t eliminate a living president who wants a platform, but I hope they minimize it and hope somebody has the courage to stand up and say something about the good and the bad.”