Wouldn't it be fine to have a president who's honest and smart, who makes sincerely held religious principles a guide for living? We could use a president who's a veteran, one who understands that those in military service are mostly youngsters whose lives shouldn't be used up without extraordinary justification. It would be nice to have a leader who didn't make promises to be broken in the name of political expedience. We need a president who cares about peace, with enough personal integrity to persuade sworn enemies to negotiate face to face.
We had one of those once, but not a clue what to do with him.
All of us ought to have been pleased when Jimmy Carter got the Nobel Prize because he represents the best of America. The only brag I can make about voting is that I cast ballots for Carter twice -- and would again if his name was on a ticket.
He sure compares well with what we have now.
President Bush wants us to believe that he cares enough about human rights to wage war to establish freedom in another culture and country. But he cozies up to military dictators as if they're fraternity brothers when it suits his purposes.
Carter used human rights as a basis for all foreign policy. A government wanting something from the United States -- most favored nation trading status, for instance -- had to demonstrate at least a modicum of tolerance for views other than its own.
Some people ridiculed Carter for that, but dissidents all over the world who saw prison gates swing wide because of Carter's influence didn't laugh.
Bush's so-called liberation of Iraq, at whatever cost in young American lives, is as oil-based as old-fashioned paint. Anyone who doubts that ought to ask why, with North Korea boasting about a nuclear weapons program, U.S. troops aren't marching on Pyongyang. That government paid for each kiloton by starving its citizens, but there's not a single carrier group off the Korean coast. Then again, nobody has figured out how to run cars on kimchi.
Carter's energy conservation program would have made foreign oil no more important to us than dog biscuits are to cats. Had his policy remained in force at the time Hussein invaded Kuwait for its oil fields, we could have told the Arabs to pound sand. We would have saved billions of dollars, not to mention the anguished tears of a few thousand mothers.
It's even easy to get nostalgic for Carter's embarrassing relatives. Rather than sit home and be a proper white-haired granny, his mama went off to India with the Peace Corps; and his sister publicly -- and successfully -- evangelized a big-time pornographer. Then there was the redneck brother who marketed Billy Beer and managed to get himself photographed while urinating on an airport tarmac.
Bush's embarrassing relative hides crack cocaine in her shoe at a drug treatment center and gets the possibility of prison brushed off by a judge who gives her yet another last chance.
Carter, by education, training and experience, is a nuclear physicist. Bush publicly confuses the words "terrorist$quot; and "terrier."
I can't decide whether I'm on the low end of old age or the high end of middle age. Either way, the time ain't far off when I'll be a genuine old-timer spouting "in my day" stories at youngsters. I already have one ready: "You might not believe it; but once upon a time, this country elected a smart, moral, farsighted man to be president."
Wonder if we'll have the chance or the good sense ever to do it again?