Republican presidential hopefuls Ted Cruz and Chris Christie went after former President Jimmy Carter’s record, during stump speeches over the weekend, less than 48 hours after Carter announced that his cancer had spread to his brain. The two GOP contenders just couldn’t resist taking jabs at Carter as they campaigned to win over Republican voters on Saturday.
Speaking at a Koch brothers sponsored event in Columbus, Ohio, Ted Cruz criticized Obama’s policies by explicitly comparing them to the policies of the Carter presidency. Cruz railed that Obama pursued the “same failed domestic policies, same misery, stagnation and malaise, same feckless and naive foreign policy” as Carter. He leveled similar attacks against both Obama and Carter on Friday at the Iowa State Fair.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie got into the act on Saturday as well. Speaking atop a soap box at the Iowa State Fair, Christie called Obama the weakest president ever on foreign policy, and remarked that Obama “makes Jimmy Carter look strong”. The implication of course was to portray Carter as weak while assailing Obama as being even weaker.
As a high profile public figure and a former president, Carter’s record is fair game for discussion on the campaign trail. However, if Ted Cruz and Chris Christie were decent human beings they might self impose a temporary moratorium on negative comments about Jimmy Carter. That however, would require a level of empathy that neither Cruz nor Christie apparently possesses.
Senator Cruz has a history of insensitively timed remarks against his political adversaries while they are grieving. Cruz was cracking derisive jokes about Vice President Joe Biden shortly after his son Beau passed away with brain cancer. Cruz later apologized, but considering that he is back at it, by attacking the cancer-stricken Carter, one has to question the sincerity of his apology.
Ted Cruz and Chris Christie are ruthlessly self-centered politicians, so it should come as no surprise that they lack the empathy and sensitivity to hold their fire when members of the opposing party fall ill. However, it really is too soon to include attacking Jimmy Carter’s presidency as part of a campaign stump speech. Cruz and Christie are doing more to discredit their own campaigns than they are doing to malign Carter’s legacy. Jimmy Carter has handled his post-presidency and his illness with grace, dignity and class. Grace, dignity, and class are three qualities Senator Cruz and Governor Christie sorely lack.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.