Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Soaring like eagles, slithering like snakes

I'm tired of talking about myself and my sickness as much as you are tired of hearing it.

So quick update, and then we'll move on. The stones have become blocked in my system. Doc swears I'll pass them soon. He wrote me three scrips yesterday for medicine that is supposed to help with that. I go back Tuesday for a follow up and to decide what to do about the stones in my right kidney. I feel sore; I get tired easily. Meanwhile, I'm working as much as I can at home.

OK, now on to other things.

Explain to me, if you will, the paradox that is Jimmy Carter.

On one hand, he comes across as an unassuming, gentle guy from Plains, Ga., who seems to have a genuine faith and a gentle outlook on life. Other times, he's arrogant, holier-than-thou, angry, mean-spirited, naive and stubborn. Oh, yeah. He used to be president. Before that, he was governor of Georgia.

Carter rather strongly criticized the Bush Administration over the weekend. Nothing new there. Nothing wrong with it, either.

Problem is by virtually any measure Carter's White House years weren't much better --- domestically or internationally. About the only person I know who can legitimately claim he was better off in 1980 after four years of Peanut Politics is the late Ayatollah Khamenei. At one point, Carter's approval rating was lower than Richard Nixon's --- after Watergate.

Carter has spent his years out of power atoning for his Washington disaster. He's done some good things. Building houses for Habitat comes to mind.

He's written books. He runs the Carter Center in Atlanta. He goes to Braves games. Somewhere along the way he won a Pulitzer Peace Prize.

Just when you start to think Jimmy's really a nice guy, he goes crazy. And I'm not talking about his comments on Bush. Read his latest book on the Middle East conflict. You'll see what I mean.

Christopher Hitchens has written a wittily mean column on Carter that can be found here: http://www.slate.com/id/2166661/nav/tap2/ or by clicking on the link in the blog title.

He's pretty tough on the ol' peanut farmer, but most of his points are valid.

Guess I bring all this up to say that human beings are so fascinating. They are truly three dimensional and multi-layered. Good and evil live within us all, as does the ability to soar like eagles and slither like snakes.

Maybe the thing to do isn't to try to understand the Carter paradox, or the Nixon paradox or the Clinton paradox, or fill in your own presidential name here. I don't think I care that much anyway.

No, I think the better point to note is that the contradictions of our leaders past and present, their grand visions and petty behavior, reinforces just how complex we humans really are.

It tells us something else, too.

Nothing, not even (especially not even) a smiling preacher/politician from the South, is quite what it seems.

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