by Jordan Grant
Thursday evening, Drake University hosted its 29th annual Bucksbaum Distinguished Lecture, hosting Former President Jimmy Carter, and his wife Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter. The Carters addressed a Des Moines crowd of 6,000 in the Knapp Center, along with an earlier gathering of 150 Drake students and faculty who were recognized by the Slay Fund for Social Justice.
The evening began as President Carter explained after his “involuntary retirement in 1980” how his time as President prepared him for his active post presidency. Since leaving the White House the former President, through his Carter Center, has worked to manage conflict, and combat diseases such as Guinea Worm in the Third World. This includes striving to end civil unrest from Gaza to Sub-Saharan Africa. In fact President Carter announced that soon Guinea Worm would become the seventh disease to be eradicated from the face of the earth. Amazingly, this is only one of the many severe illnesses, the Carter Center fights around the globe.
Although, we Republicans disagree with nearly everything the 39th President stands for politically, we nonetheless applaud and thank him for his working combating disease and conflict around the world. Regardless of party lines the humanitarian work to fight disease and advocating for the mentally handicapped should be recognized and lauded.
After President Carter and Mrs. Carter explained the humanitarian goals of the Carter Center, they took questions from the audience. In these questions Iowans were reminded of the reasons Mr. Carter was not re-elected for a second term. The first question asked of the Former President what was his take on the situation in Gaza between Israel and Palestine; in which President Carter echoed Obama’s charge to have Israel withdraw to 1967 borders. Of course this ignores the fact these borders would make Israel only nine miles in width and would threaten Israeli security.
Another question asked of the Former President was how he reacted to those calling the embassy attacks this week as Obama’s “Jimmy Carter moment”. This question took the Former President by surprise but he quickly justified his actions as he said his goals were to get the hostages released and prevent the loss of innocent life. Expounding on this, Carter explained that he could have acted like a “macho man” and been deemed a hero, but it takes more “courage to pursue peace”. The hostages were finally released by the Iranians just hours after Ronald Reagan became president.
Additionally, President Carter decried the corrosive influence of money on American elections because it allows an avalanche of negative attacks to destroy your opponent’s character. Ironically, the man whom Carter endorsed has run a campaign of negativity accusing Mitt Romney of tax evasion, and for being responsible for the death of a female cancer patient. Of course this is not to mention the ridiculous claim by the Obama administration that the Romney-Ryan Medicare plan would throw Grandma under the bus. Carter is also ignoring that prior to Citizens United, Union money flooded elections.
However, I was more than happy to agree with the former President when addressing the educational reform. Mr. Carter made it clear that in order to improve education; the unions have to care more for the “best interest of students and not protecting teachers”. This point is engrained into our memories this week as Chicago teachers, some of the highest paid in the nation, took to the street to strike.
Wrapping up the event, Carter explained that his hope for America was that we would spend less on our military and instead lead the world in democracy, clean energy, immigration and generosity. Through this Carter claimed we would earn our place as a “Superpower”. Consequently, I ended the night thankful for the humanitarian work Jimmy Carter does around the world and thankful that Carter never won a second term.
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