Carter Blasts Bush

Actor Eric Mabius attends the 8th Annual Family Television Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on November 29, 2006 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Stephen Shugerman/Getty Images)
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In a rare instance of one former president criticizing a current one, Jimmy Carter is taking issue with just about everything George W. Bush has done in office.

Mr. Carter criticizes Mr. Bush for not pressuring Israel to withdraw from the Gaza Strip, for threatening to abandon the anti-ballistic missile treaty and for not supporting human rights more strongly.

He says Mr. Bush has ignored moderates in both parties and calls Mr. Bush's proposed missile defense shield a "technologically ridiculous" idea that will "re-escalate the nuclear arms race."

"I have been disappointed in almost everything he has done," Mr. Carter told the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer in an interview last week from his home in Plains.

Mr. Carter also was critical of President Clinton during the fellow Democrat's administration, calling the Monica Lewinsky scandal an embarrassment and disparaging Mr. Clinton's policy in North Korea and Haiti.

Mr. Carter is "a guy with strong views, and I think that's always been the case," said presidential scholar Charles Jones of the University of Wisconsin. "What surprises me is a kind of a sweeping critical analysis, at what has to be said is an early stage."

Mr. Carter noted that he had volunteered to be one of the few Democrats at Mr. Bush's inauguration because he was optimistic about the administration.

"I hoped that coming out of an uncertain election he would reach out to people of diverse views, not just Democrats and Republicans but others who had different points of view," Mr. Carter said. "I thought he would be a moderate leader, but he has been very strictly conforming to some of the more conservative members of his administration, his vice president and his secretary of defense in particular. More moderate people like Colin Powell have been frozen out of the basic decision-making in dealing with international affairs."

He was also critical of Mr. Bush for not calling for the removal of Israeli settlements on the West Bank.

"George Sr. took a strong position on that issue, and so did I," said Mr. Carter, whose offer to mediate the conflict was declined by both the Israelis and the Palestinians.

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