Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak meets with former U.S. President Jimmy Carter in Cairo on Thursday. Carter also met with top Hamas officials in both Egypt and Syria. (PHOTO CREDIT:AP)
FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:
Former President Jimmy Carter has been making waves this week with his trip to the Middle East.
Today, Carter met with an exiled Hamas politician in Damascus, Syria. Earlier this week, he met with two other senior Hamas politicians in Cairo.
Carter's trip drew condemnation from the U.S. and Israeli governments; both consider Hamas a terrorist organization. Carter has said he's not a negotiator, but that he's "just trying to understand different opinions and... provide communications between people who won't communicate with each other." Critics say it's not useful to engage in diplomacy with a group like Hamas, and most Israeli officials have refused to meet with Carter.
His trip raises larger questions about what exactly former presidents should be doing with their time out of office, which could be many years for someone like Bill Clinton or the current President George Bush. In recent years, Clinton teamed up with former President George H.W. Bush to raise money for victims of the Asian tsunami and Hurricane Katrina. Clinton also has a foundation that deals with issues like HIV/AIDS and climate change, and Carter has donated countless hours to Habitat for Humanity.
Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton has said that if she's elected president, she would make her husband a roaming ambassador to the world to help repair our tattered image abroad.
But is there a line these men who used to hold the highest office in the land shouldn't cross?
Here’s my question to you: What’s the appropriate role for former presidents?
Interested to know which ones made it on air?
Mary from Fairhope, Alabama writes:
My hat is off to Jimmy Carter who is the only American president that ever affected a meaningful peace in the Middle East, between the Egyptians and the Israelis. His is the appropriate role. An inappropriate approach to being the former president is what Bill Clinton is doing – slinging mud on other presidential hopefuls so his wife can claw her way to the White House.
Hi Jack, I think the key word here is "former". There is nothing wrong with former presidents being ambassadors and lending their names and support to domestic issues, but as far as their role in major and key issues of security and policy, it should be "hands off." They had their chance, and some of them proved they were ineffective when they had it.
Laurie from Muncie, Indiana writes:
I have to admit that Carter's plans to meet with Hamas make me a bit nervous but I think he means well and hopefully in some way it will help things. I don't know what limits we should set on our former presidents. I think we have to leave it the way it is and allow them to do what they think is best. We don't *really* know what the outcome will be.
Buster from Poughkeepsie, New York writes:
I would like to see the former presidents go into the inner city schools and speak to them. As former leaders of the free world, they would inspire the pupils by their own example to apply themselves, graduate and go on to do good works. The most important asset we have for our country's future lies in the success of our youth, and the former presidents more than anyone could make that happen.
Bruce from St. Paul, Minnesota writes:
An ex-president should travel the world, giving speeches for $250,000 a pop, write a self-serving memoir, buy a few homes, open his "library" (shrine to himself), and eventually try to get his wife elected as president. He should enjoy secret service protection at all times. And we thought the royal family had a good gig.