April 18th, 2008
05:01 PM ET

Appropriate role for former presidents?


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.

James writes:
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.

Filed under: Foreign Policy • Jimmy Carter
soundoff (232 Responses)
  1. Brian from Fort Mill, S.C.

    Former presidents are like children. They should be seen, and not heard. And some of them shouldn't even be seen!

    April 18, 2008 at 1:56 pm |
  2. Joe in DE

    Former Presidents should get a 4 year trm on the Supreme Court.

    April 18, 2008 at 1:57 pm |
  3. Linda from Seattle


    I have been very impressed with the involvement of Carter, senior Bush (except for his campaigning for son) and Clinton in doing their best to help those in need. Building homes, raising money for tsunami relief, New Orleans, etc.; these former presidents have done more than the current administration in trying to make the world a much better place.

    April 18, 2008 at 1:59 pm |
  4. Ryan, Woodbridge, Va

    At this time it would be helpful if our former presidents tried to help fix the broken government that we have so that our current elected officials can do the work the voters expect them to do like using the proper diplomatic processes for foreign policy. I think that it’s great to see President Carter trying to help aid his country in foreign policy but I struggle with the concept that he is no longer an elected or appointed official and really has no proxy from his government or the electorate to speak for the American people with Hamas.

    April 18, 2008 at 2:03 pm |
  5. James

    President Carter is trying to do something constructive, unlike the Israeli controlled Cheney/Bush.

    April 18, 2008 at 2:03 pm |
  6. Mark - Asheville, NC

    I think that President Carter has set the perfect example.

    It will be interesting to see what GWB does with his 'golden years'. Will he set up a huge frat house environment for himself and his cronies, so they can play pranks, and BS endlessly about wars they could have started?

    April 18, 2008 at 2:12 pm |

    What Prez Carter is doing is DAMAGE CONTROL for our immature,incompetent and arrogant administration !

    April 18, 2008 at 2:12 pm |
  8. James in Cape Coral, FL

    Looking back on all the former Presidents that are alive at this point all I see is a group of old men whove all done their share of screwing this country over in the name of personal profit or gain. If FDR, JFK and Lincoln were still alive I'd say let them do as they wish. They've each shown themselves to be honorable men with only this nation's best intrests in mind. But with the current group, Carter, Clinton, Bush and coming soon Bush, I'd say letting them have a role to play is part of the reason nobody takes America seriously anymore. Tell them to stay home while we fix their mess.

    April 18, 2008 at 2:14 pm |
  9. Brad, Amarillo TX.

    Jack, Jimmy Carter is the only former President who has made any difference in anyones lives. His work with Habitat for humanity and diplomacy has raised my opinion of him. I always thought he was an honest man, just a terrible president. He is a great ex president. To bad they don't all do actual work. Raising money to keep their libraries open seems like a waist of talent. Of course Bill is doing what he has always done best, lining his pockets. That and trying to keep Hillary out of the whitehouse.

    April 18, 2008 at 2:16 pm |
  10. Hillary

    I the Presidents Clinton, Carter and Bush 1 are doing a great job in representing our country to the rest of the world. They are ambassadors of goodwill and have done much to help our country's image abroad. I think the current President Bush needs to just go away and clear brush for the rest of his life when his term is up. The last thing we need is him representing our country in any way, shape or form once his term is up.

    April 18, 2008 at 2:18 pm |
  11. Brad in Oregon

    Who is to say what the role of former presidents should be? Especially is this time of changing life and gender roles and when currently, one former president's spouse is running for the same office. In a perfect world, I would like to think that as private citizens, former presidents would consider themselves "above the fray" but it seems as if that is no longer the case. In my opinion, the appropriate role of former presidents should be in foreign diplomacy, exempting the current office holder for life. In the past, they have been emissaries and mediators, look at former president Carter and his work toward peace in the middle-east. Former presidents need to become apolitical after office and either live on the sidelines, become a philanthropist, or work for a good cause to better everyone, not simply for the good of themselves or their families. Bill Clinton has helped to blur this boundary.

    April 18, 2008 at 2:19 pm |
  12. matt switras michigan

    jack, Have we turned into such a war mongering nation that we are afraid of letting an ex-President talk Peace to warring nations in the Middle East. Maybe we should draft the young people like they did in my day then they would see that there is real meaning to the words "GIVE PEACE A CHANCE'.

    April 18, 2008 at 2:20 pm |
  13. Anne/Seattle

    Whatever they say or do, they must remember that they are FORMER presidents. They're role is to offer support toward the welfare and growth of the U.S. and not to be policy makers. The former presidents who have offered the most to the nation are those who provided leadership, political insight and personal integrity. Harry Truman is good role model of a former presient.

    April 18, 2008 at 2:20 pm |
  14. J.D. - New Hampshire

    It depends on the former president. George W. Bush would be wise to stay down on the farm and out of sight until we've all gone senile and forgotten the last 8 years.

    April 18, 2008 at 2:23 pm |
  15. Allan,Cameron Park, Ca.

    I think just what they are doing now. I don't see Bush I doing much but Clinton and Carter are doing many great things.
    What should Bush II do. He should be in prison along with his cronies that got us into the mess we are in now. But then he didn't lie about sex, the only thing that can get you impeached.

    April 18, 2008 at 2:25 pm |
  16. Ken, Annapolis, Maryland

    Former Presidents shouldn't be meeting with terrorist organizations.

    I don't think it's a good trend for them to rack up $100 million in profit from books and speeches. Will that lead to more people running for President because they want to make millions instead of running because they want to improve the country and the world?

    April 18, 2008 at 2:26 pm |
  17. Jamaal Kansas

    adviser roles, Public relations jobs, secretary of state maybe but when Obama wins in November Clinton would not be in my White House Him and Hilary Might leave.

    April 18, 2008 at 2:27 pm |
  18. Mike from Pueblo, Colorado

    The appropriate role for ex-presidents is one the reflects dignity upon the office the individual once held. Slinging mud at the political opponents of one's spouse is most decidedly undignified.

    April 18, 2008 at 2:28 pm |
  19. IFEANYI AZUBIKE Houston, Texas

    Banish them to some isolated ranch or better still ship them to an obscure Island where they cannot have access to Hamas or Pennsylvannia voters. I have watched two of the persons I adore the most, Carter and Clinton, almost break my heart and loose almost half the respect I have for them by being plain stupid, either in having serious discussion with avowed terrorists or telling blatant lies to make some unelectable candidate drag a lost cause. My conclussion is that years of having all those aids make decisions for them hastens their senility and so makes them incompatible with regular folks. Having so many over sixties ex-presidents, who according to Bill have issues with senitlity, is perhaps resposible for all the down turns we are having.

    April 18, 2008 at 2:28 pm |
  20. Ray,Dunedin,Florida

    Hey Jack,

    I heard President Bush bought property on the moon.
    It's true I seen it on the discovery channel!

    Maybe he should retire there, so he can't hurt anyone any more!

    Bang! Zoom! to the moon George!!!!

    April 18, 2008 at 2:29 pm |
  21. Ryan, Champaign IL

    The role of a former president is to use his unique experience and status to improve lingering problems, here and abroad – regardless of any current administration's world view.

    April 18, 2008 at 2:29 pm |
  22. Beverley, Fredricksburg Va


    This is a very good question and one that should be answered before Jan 20, 2009. Mitt Romney's very funny joke about Bill Clinton in the white house with nothing to do pales in comparison to thought's of George Bush on the loose with no one to impeach him.

    April 18, 2008 at 2:30 pm |
  23. Ruthie, GA

    The formal Presidents should do Goodwill things, like what Carter is doing. But, G W Bush needs to take a long vacation in the artic. No, that want work, he would just irritate the polar bears. Maybe he should just crawl under a rock and stay there.

    April 18, 2008 at 2:33 pm |
  24. Michael Lorton, Virginia

    If they couldn't make a difference in the lives of American when they were President, they now have the opportunity become a student of change. It is the only thing that will remain constant.

    April 18, 2008 at 2:35 pm |
  25. Erik Swansea, MA

    When the time comes for Former President George W. Bush, the thing for him to do would be to sit around his cell...

    April 18, 2008 at 2:35 pm |
  26. Scott L. - Wichita, Kansas

    One word Jack: Taxidermy.

    We could have a new Smithsonian with a "Hall of Presidents"
    Nixon with his peace sign and a microphone hidden inside him, Clinton with a saxophone, and Bush Jr. with a BBQ grill.

    April 18, 2008 at 2:36 pm |

    isn't it amazing jack, that the minute anyone attempts to do something constructive up pops the criticism from the worst president and worst administration in our history. i hope when bush retires he does what he's done for seven years. nothing. we have enough problems that he's caused.

    April 18, 2008 at 2:37 pm |
  28. Patricia

    Jack, I think Jimmy Carter is doing what he can to stop the hell George Bush has put the Middle East through. Can he? Probably not. As an Arab friend of mine has said in the past, both the people of Palestine & the people of Iraq have always been a fractious bunch & no matter what they are offered, it's never going to be enough.
    Palmdale, Ca

    April 18, 2008 at 2:38 pm |
  29. David,San Bernardino,CA.

    Former Presidents should be allowed to serve in whatever capacity they want. Just because they are not still in office they should not be told to go away and disappear. Jimmy Carter,William Howard Taft and Richard Nixon are prime examples of what former Presidents have to offer this country. Bill Clinton would make a perfect Secretary of State or Ambassador to the United Nations. We really need to get rid of the petty,partisan politics and jealousies and get back to running this country for the common good of all of us.

    April 18, 2008 at 2:38 pm |
  30. Terry in Virginia

    They should be put to work not out to pasture. For example, Carter is doing his best for world peace. Bush 41 is praying his son doesn't ignite WWIII (too late?). Clinton is talking and talking and talking. Someone needs to offer him a job as a game show host. After W leaves office, he's going hunting with Dick Cheney unless W's finally tried for war crimes.

    April 18, 2008 at 2:40 pm |
  31. Harry

    A former presidents role should be getting their mug printed on some greenbacks and having those stay in american's wallets.

    Maybe, then, they would be more concerned about the value of their legacy the entire time they are in office.


    April 18, 2008 at 2:40 pm |
  32. Nuwan Sam

    I believe that they should be involved in some cause that they believe in to help the country and the world. President Carter has done a lot in that respect. The experience of being a president and the influence they have in the globe can be very useful. But with all due respect, I think it be very good if Bush or Cheney just get a rest and not doing anything. They only know how to break things and damage everything they do. Those two people were handed a country which was doing very well and they ruined it completely. So that experience in breaking things is no use.

    Nuwan from Houston, TX.

    April 18, 2008 at 2:41 pm |
  33. BJ Smith

    A diplomatic role suits, also the philanthopy use. It just might turn out there is something redeemable for George W, he owes us & the world that.

    BJ Smith in Seminole, FL

    April 18, 2008 at 2:41 pm |
  34. Taj

    Great people who bring in great changes in this world do not follow the rules set by the Govt's , bureacrats or politicians. They are all God's men & they follow God's law. That's appropriate.

    April 18, 2008 at 2:42 pm |
  35. Peter Pan Fairview, Texas

    A former president is just that,. Former. They should give speeches to other Americans if they want to but they have no standing in the American peoples affairs any longer so to talk with other countries on behalf of the American people is dumb. They are private citizens now and can take no action on any political decision nor should they attempt to. Jimmy Carter is a Classic example of what not to do as a former president . In fact what he has tried to do borders on treason.
    Why does Jimmy Carter cozy up to dictators and terrorist groups? From Arafat to Chavez. The list is appalling.

    April 18, 2008 at 2:42 pm |
  36. Dick B

    Former Presidents should be given any surplus created during their adminstration and personally pay off any deficits. That should keep them all quite busy.

    Dick from Indiana

    April 18, 2008 at 2:46 pm |
  37. Ann, Newton, New Jersey

    Setting examples for the rest of the world. One exception would be Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney (whom I consider a dual presidency) Mr. Carter has done a lot for this country since he left. Habitat for Humanity. His going around the world in the name of "peace" lets other countries know that all Americans are not "war mongers". If bringing this message to our so called "enemies" works, some people will probably have to eat their words about him.

    April 18, 2008 at 2:47 pm |
  38. Tamika from Ohio

    Thats an easy one Jack,]
    Former Presidents should become the First Man! (yes.. I am dripping with sarcasim here)

    April 18, 2008 at 2:47 pm |
  39. Larry, Ohio

    Well,Jack,if you are referring to Jimmy Carter,Shelling peanuts would seem appropiate!

    April 18, 2008 at 2:47 pm |
  40. AndyZ; Fairfax, VA

    Putz around in their presidential libraries. Play golf. Plant peanuts. Do not try to conduct foreign policy/diplomacy; it is against the laws of our country. Having survived the Carter administration I really was surprised to find that U. S. Grant is considered to be the worst American president. I would have bet money on Jimmy.

    April 18, 2008 at 2:47 pm |
  41. Rocky

    Chicopee, Mass.

    For most every president save the current one, an advisory post. For Bill Clinton, a nanny for Paris Hilton. For the current one, a job picking farts out of hospital bed sheets. And his buddy Cheney can try being a duck-blind for every parent with a rifle whose lost a child in Iraq.

    April 18, 2008 at 2:49 pm |
  42. Will K. San Jose, CA

    Ambassador to Iraq would be a good role for the current president once he leaves office.

    April 18, 2008 at 2:51 pm |
  43. lee from Florida

    Hamas is a bad guy, yes we all agree. Bad guys act up, but ignoring them does not do any good either... You don't just ignore your constantly ill behaving child, you talk to him, seek out side help of a therapist or clergy help, and then if all else fails you put him away. The middle east is a bunch of grown ups acting like stubborn children, no one giving an inch, yet fighting with peoples lives. Time has come for to look at how to achieve Peace, if at all possible there, and it begins with talking, not by slamming the door close.
    Now the other former Pres whom is making a spectacular of himself on the campaign trail...he needs to start acting Presidential, or least try to fake it...if he want to have legacy intact at all.

    April 18, 2008 at 2:53 pm |
  44. Erin in Kalamazoo

    Jack, I like Jimmy and think he's certainly the most humanitarian ex-president we've known but all you have to do is ask yourself–
    "Do I twitch and shudder at the thought of George W. Unleashed in 2009?"

    They're called BOUNDARIES and even Jimmy has to learn them.

    April 18, 2008 at 2:54 pm |
  45. Paul in Toronto

    Obama has already stated early in the campaign that he would find a job for Bill (not Hillary, though). The position of ambassador comes to mind.

    April 18, 2008 at 2:54 pm |
  46. A Kraft

    to shut their mouths and do good work for the problems facing americans, ie education, loss of jobs, mortgage problems etc. they could be mentors for the most pressing economic problems instead of galivanting around strutting their stuff to make unbelievable money ala Clinton

    April 18, 2008 at 2:54 pm |
  47. Esther Cuyahoga Falls Ohio

    who we talking about Jack?
    Carter is a role model of what i think a x-president should be. He is a beacon of hope to 100000 including me. He has helped people of this country and has reached over our borders to help with elections and diplomacy.
    we should give george his walking papers and then let him finish his reserve duty.

    April 18, 2008 at 2:55 pm |
  48. Connie

    I believe Jimmy Carter is trying to do his best to clean up the mess Bush has created. We all know what Bill's job is, Hillary gave him a broom so he can go behind her and clean up after her.

    Connie from Logansport,IN

    April 18, 2008 at 2:56 pm |
  49. James Kipler

    Hi Jack,

    I think the key and operant word here is "former". There is nothing wrong with former Presidents being ambassadors and lending their names and support to country 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.

    April 18, 2008 at 2:56 pm |
  50. April in texas

    Well generally speaking I think they should not use their whitehouse stay as a free ride. The presidents who continue to do the greater good for our country after leaving the whitehouse seem to appeal more than those who abuse their stay.

    Obama 08
    April in Austin Texas

    April 18, 2008 at 2:56 pm |
  51. Tom, Avon, Maine, The Heart of Democracy

    It depends on the president. Jimmy Carter has been a blessing on America in all of his post-presidential activities, but he has set the bar pretty high for some of them to try and immolate. George might be wise to continue his good work in Africa and stick with his success.

    April 18, 2008 at 2:58 pm |
  52. C. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    A former president should always be an ambassador of peace to the world and that includes Bush when he becomes a former president. Bush hasn't burned all his bridges down despite how we disagree with him on a lot of issues.

    April 18, 2008 at 2:59 pm |
  53. Rob, Arvada, CO

    I have a job for Bush in 2009, he can go to China, and help sort out the China-Tibet relations mess. Diplomacy and humanitarianism are admirable roles for ex-presidents, and Bush might be able to earn some rep by following the example of Jimmy Carter.

    April 18, 2008 at 3:00 pm |
  54. Bruce St Paul MN

    An ex-president should travel the world, giving speeches for $250000.00 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.

    April 18, 2008 at 3:00 pm |
  55. Jordan from Kentucky

    Carter is doing the right thing... especially since our current president has exacerbated all the negative relationships we have with enemy states and organizations. Keep up the good work President Carter!

    April 18, 2008 at 3:01 pm |
  56. dennis north carolina

    most former president fade into the back ground only helping the present president ask them about certain situations. they go out and get pay back for being the president such as sitting on corperate boards or the speaking trail. I give Jimmy Carter credit because when he left office, he uses his fame to help people around the world weather it is for food, health problems or peace. i beleive that this is what all the former president should be doing instead of reaping the profits of the office.

    April 18, 2008 at 3:01 pm |
  57. Rick Medina,OH

    I am very proud of every former President who has lived in my life time. Each has been a great Ambassador for our Country.

    I am an unabashed liberal Democrat ... one of those guys who knocks on lots of doors, and registers voters. But, I look back on Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and the 'first' Bush with affection ... they served their country with honor and conviction. (Even though I disagreed with their policies, I honored their 'belief systems.')

    The above roster, plus Carter and Clinton, could have chosen to become invisible. But they did not. And, for that, I admire them all.

    My answer to your question, Jack, is this: All former Presidents are 'convicted' to some ideal ... even if it did not sell well while they were in office. My advice: stay convicted! Use what resources are available to you to convict others! (In the end ... even when America chooses differently than I ... I know that America chooses wisely ... most of the time!)

    April 18, 2008 at 3:04 pm |
  58. Mary Whartnaby -California

    The former President Carter has tact and he knows how to negotiate and talk to people in other countries, which is more that our current administration can do! Good for Carter!

    April 18, 2008 at 3:07 pm |
  59. Gregory

    Honestly I really don't know, but I do know what is inappropriate behavior and former President Carter has just crossed that line. I believe when you go against the people who are calling the shots in this case it would be President Bush no matter how much you disagree to proceed anyway is disrespectful to the office and your country.

    President Carter has had his chance, unless the Bush administration calls on him in some capacity he should STAND DOWN.

    April 18, 2008 at 3:10 pm |
  60. Richard Heriot Bay, B.C. Canada

    The appropriate role for former Presidents should be author and philosopher reflecting on the value of their executive policies during their terms in office and how they have contributed towards shaping the world stage for the security and prosperity of the United States, the international arena and the benefit of future generations of mankind in general.

    April 18, 2008 at 3:11 pm |
  61. Josh

    The ex-presidents with the exception of the George W. Bush have done a lot to foster good will among the different nations of the world as well as humanitarian efforts. As for George W. Bush, when he leaves office, he can turn himself in for war crimes, crimes against humanity and violating the Geneva convention. So Bush Jr, can help us alot by sitting in a prison cell for the rest of his life.

    April 18, 2008 at 3:12 pm |
  62. Les Young Oklahoma

    To me Jimmy Carter meeting with Hamas is no big deal if he happen to do some good which is not likely. At least he made a attempt which is a lot more than Bush has done. About the only thing Bush can do is label some one a terrorist group. George would even know what a Terrorist was if Cheney had told him.

    April 18, 2008 at 3:13 pm |
  63. Karl in CA

    If they can't do something constructive, they should just sit down and shut up.

    April 18, 2008 at 3:14 pm |
  64. Mary M. Mansour, Fairhope AL

    My hat is off to Jimmy Carter who is the only American president that ever effected 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.

    April 18, 2008 at 3:15 pm |
  65. Chuck in Eugene Oregon


    This man should be commended for his attempt to reslove that which no one else seems to beable or willing to do. What would be poetically funny is if he succeeded in his endevors; however, I might add I do not think he has a snow balls chance in hell. But one never knows. It would be nice to see some of those political hot spots cool off with a strong chance for long term peace to follow. I think our current politicians should never look a gift horse in the mouth, and this is a gift horse. Let him do what he can is all I can say. Right or wrong at least he is trying.

    April 18, 2008 at 3:17 pm |
  66. Jay

    Jack, I really enjoy your insights and wisdom! Its good to have someone with

    I am very proud of Jimmy Carter and whole heartedly support his meeting with Hamas (which to me is a freedom fighting organization and is recognized as such by most of the world). What happened to freedom, or is that only applied when Bush/neocon objectives are furthered? We need more Jimmy Carter's to restore America's moral leadership around the world.

    Our foriegn policy for too long has been dictated by narrow Zionist objectives (and more recently by right wing Christian conservatives) which harm the US interests around the world. It is not anti-Semitic to criticize Israel and Zionists for their aggresion and terrorism against Palestinians, and after 911, against all Muslims and Islam. We are viewed as hypocrites around the world for our double standards in our foriegn policy and the blind support we have for Israel (Israel has over 300 nuclear weapons and yet Iran and other Muslim nations aren't even allowed to pursue nuclear research!!). The Zionists and Hindus are also trying to destroy Pakistan as it is the only Muslim country to have nuclear weapons.

    A critical reevaluation of our foriegn policy is way overdue and this inept Bush administration has only made matters worse. It is high time we talk to our adversaries and engage in dialogue without resorting to military force or threats of using force all the time. Who are we to tell others how to live after 8 years of constant Bush scandals, fear and war mongering that has brought the world to its current sorry state!

    April 18, 2008 at 3:17 pm |
  67. Buster in Poughkeepsie, NY

    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.

    April 18, 2008 at 3:17 pm |
  68. mitchell martin ark.

    depends on who it is.a man like carter has nothing to fear.he is a man dedicated to peace.if it were bush,meeting with them,we'd never see him ,again.

    April 18, 2008 at 3:19 pm |
  69. garrick

    hi jack
    well some presidents can be put to good use if the President put them to good use but some can do the country harm when they have nothing to do,they just dont want to give up the power after steping down.just wait until Bush leaves the White House and watch the dumb crap he will do.
    clearwater fl

    April 18, 2008 at 3:20 pm |
  70. Jenny

    Some like William Jefferson Clinton just need to keep their mouths SHUT. As a Goergian though, I am much prouder of Jimmy carter the humanitarina than Jimmy Carter President. He is proof that good and decent men need not apply to be President. They will be eaten alive.

    Jenny Georgia

    April 18, 2008 at 3:23 pm |
  71. Doug Pierson Tohatchi, NM

    Someone needs to talk to these countries that have been on USAs bad list. It is only though talk that things change. If and ex pres has to be the one to discuss issues then so be it. Conflict and war in the middle east is sucking the world dry and is giving rise to terrorism. It will only change through dialogue. Go Jimmy Carter!

    April 18, 2008 at 3:23 pm |
  72. Terry from North Carolina

    Unless they are asked by the sitting president they should " stand down " stay home and write a book or go fishing for large mouth bass in Montana.

    April 18, 2008 at 3:25 pm |
  73. Allen L Wenger

    It depends on their abilities. Presidents Jimmie Carter and Bill Clinton would be great diplomatic representatives for America. On the other hand, when George Bush leaves office, let's hope he goes away and is never heard of again.

    April 18, 2008 at 3:26 pm |
  74. Praetorian, Fort Myers

    This is more like it.
    The role of a President sure as heck isn't providing piece offerings and the air of legitamcy to the leadership within terrorist organizations. Particularly...when advised by a sitting President and his Cabinet advisors. As well as, many of his own Democratic colleagues.

    This peace-a-thon is reckless...and only Carter understands his motivation for doing it. I'm sure it will help sell his next controversial book ("Terrorist's are People Too")–then he can ensure the wealth of his great, great, great grandchildren.

    April 18, 2008 at 3:26 pm |
  75. Mark, Berwyn, PA

    I think they should stay out of all political issues and devote any free time to charity work. Also, I think they should donate 100% of their Presidential pension to charity's geared toward childhood education. Most important, they should never be allowed in the White House again, even as a spouse to the President. We have a two term limit, which we should not allow them to circumvent.

    April 18, 2008 at 3:29 pm |
  76. Charles in Florida

    Jack, as long as these former president's don't burn our flag or brand Bin Laden's face on his arm, I'm cool with whatever he can do to improve America's standing in the world.

    April 18, 2008 at 3:30 pm |
  77. Tina

    What on earth will this president do when he becomes a former president. It is scary enough with him being the president in charge now. Had he of not called everyone a terrorist and sat down like a man to talk with the countries that seem to create problems then Jimmy Carter would not be over there offering the olive branch.

    April 18, 2008 at 3:33 pm |
  78. Larry from Georgetown, Tx

    It seems to me that these people like Carter have an opportunity to start the conversations that others cannot due to their office or pressure from the closed minded people like McCain and Mrs Clinton or the current President. They say it has to be our way or no way. I believe the Pope said at the UN today that we must communicate and start discussions openly and unfortunately we wouldn't do that when it came to Iraq before we started this ill fated war. I hope we never allow the current Bush out of Crawford when he's done.

    April 18, 2008 at 3:33 pm |
  79. Len of Colfax, Wisconsin

    Jack, the role of former presidents should be to basically stay in the background as ordinary citizens and allow the current administration to implement its vision. If they are asked to participate in any way, they should do so only if they can promote the vision as given them.

    Whether or not they were successful, the former presidents had their chance to implement their vision; they should never interfere, beyond the level of an ordinary citizen, with the current administrations attempts. I know it is difficult for a former president to perform as an ordinary citizen, but you asked.

    April 18, 2008 at 3:35 pm |
  80. SimonSays

    Hmmm what's more 'appropriate': Peace in the Middle East or campaigning for your wife?

    April 18, 2008 at 3:38 pm |
  81. Laura in Muncie, Indiana

    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.

    April 18, 2008 at 3:39 pm |
  82. John in San Diego

    President Carter has unselfishly dedicated himself to promoting dialogue and advancing the cause of peace throughout the world better that any ex-president in history, and in so doing he has raised the bar regarding what a former president "should do."

    April 18, 2008 at 3:42 pm |
  83. bukky

    There's nothing wrong with talking to people. People get get mad when you dont listen to them. We are not listening to Hamas. I consider Bush a terrorist but sadly he is still the president. The people voted for Hamas. You wanted democracy and the you got it. Now you're mad that the people did vote for the people you wanted them to vote for... souds like democracy at its best

    April 18, 2008 at 3:43 pm |
  84. Marcus mt.olive


    April 18, 2008 at 3:50 pm |
  85. Pat

    Kudo's on President Carter,Its about time that we sat down with other members of the HUman family . Mr Bush and Israel are you watching in how to really deal with others,its called round table open and honest discussions Not Walls of Hate .

    April 18, 2008 at 3:50 pm |
  86. devi

    As a Canadian I believe that diplomatic exchanges are very useful and show that people are interested in hearing opinions on both sides of a conflict. Well done President Carter.
    Anything effort that could potentially heal a tragic rift between two parties is appreciated. American's should be proud of the former president.

    April 18, 2008 at 3:50 pm |
  87. Patricia

    Former presidents should be free to live their lives in whatever way they desire. They have served the country in a very demanding role and we should expect nothing more from them.

    However, if a former president chooses to do something in a very public way, he/she should protect the integrity of the position. I love that both Clinton and Carter have done so much humanitarian work. In fact, all the former presidents have made us proud in their later years.

    Sadly, Bill Clinton has behaved like an ADHD school kid, but his image will recover, depending on how gracefully the Clintons back off as she retires from her candidacy.


    April 18, 2008 at 3:51 pm |
  88. Ron in Springfield, Il.

    The line should be drawn prohibiting Bill Clinton serving as a "roaming ambassador" to improve the image of America. With his track record in the past few months, his kind of help we don't need! Maybe he could be Treasury Secretary and show America how to erase the deficit, he seems to have a knack for making big money.

    April 18, 2008 at 3:51 pm |
  89. Lori in Michigan

    Former President Carter has done more good since he has left the White House then he did when was in. Too bad we can't say the same for some of the other former Presidents. I applaud Carter for not listening to Bush and going ahead with his trip to the Middle East. I'm sure Bush will join Bill Clinton in doing whatever he can to make millions instead of doing something good for humanity.

    April 18, 2008 at 3:51 pm |
  90. Brian in Missoula, MT

    I think a former President has some duty to put their talents to work for global humanitarian efforts. Clinton was a killer fundraiser, and he did an amazing job in the wake of the tsunamis. Gore has been doing what he does best. And say what you will about Carter, he has always been a first-class diplomat. I'm behind his efforts here. Certainly no different than various administration officials meeting with Sinn Fein.

    April 18, 2008 at 3:51 pm |
  91. Wings, Aloha,Oregon

    Perhaps President Carter just wanted to find out for himself if the current administraton is telling the truth about conditiions there. I've got to hand it to him for having the cajones to go over there in the first place. Bush ( "Awesome speech, Your Holiness" ) sure ain't got 'em. But, things could be worse you know, the government might be lying to us.

    April 18, 2008 at 3:52 pm |
  92. sandy in Ohio

    I believe Jimmy Carter is trying to talk to Hamas in the hope that something constructive in the way of peace in that region can be started. Everyone knows that not talking to them has not worked and Pres. Carter is a good man who has a real desire to see peace in the world. I think that Bill Clinton has gone a long way to improve his image and our county's in Africa with his charity work. The same can be said for George Bush senior. I do not think that any former President should mess in politics, no matter if his spouse or child is running. I also do not think they should be asked to work in any official capacity for the government because the desire to speak from a position of power runs too deep in anyone who becomes president and especially in Bill Clinton and the current Bush.

    April 18, 2008 at 3:53 pm |
  93. Kris

    Is it illegal for Carter to be doing these talks? I don't think so. Can he do some good? He sure couldn't hurt. I find Jimmy Carter to be diplomatic and very trustworthy. He cannot possibly have an agenda like a President would or another head of state. Just about the only agenda would be to help bring peace to a much-heated environement made more so by the Bush Admin.

    April 18, 2008 at 3:53 pm |
  94. Steve Hayden, Idaho

    Former presidents are free citizens like you and me Jack and shouldn't have limitations on what they can do or not do unless it's against the law. The problem is in the Middle East and United States is that the leaders over the last 20 years have been military minded war mongers were too proud to give an inch when where the other.
    That's why it shocks them so much that somebody would actually speak with the enemy rather than Use aggressive threats and demands at each other. They don't understand that you have a better chance of making peace using the feather of a dove rather than the talon of an eagle.

    April 18, 2008 at 3:53 pm |
  95. Curt in St. Cloud MN

    I think the former Presidents should work to reduce the size of the Federal Government...which likely doubled under their watch. No matter what side of the aisle they come from they always grow the government. "As goverment grows, liberty contracts!" Ronald Wilson Reagan

    April 18, 2008 at 3:54 pm |
  96. Mary

    I think making Bill Clinton 1st Laddie would be an excellent role.



    April 18, 2008 at 3:54 pm |
  97. Gerry In Toronto

    Realistically, how can limits be set on former presidents when no limits are set on citizens. Any citzen of the US can meet with Hamas if they so desire.

    Maybe if more people met instead of shooting missles, the situation in the middle east would normalize.

    It's called trying to reach a common ground, something George Bush never has understood.

    On the other hand, Americans should be realy concerned when Bil Clinton meets with anyone. It appears he has his hand out to all. Can you believe he pocketed $800,000.00 from the Columbian's. I wonder how much he got from the Chinese.

    April 18, 2008 at 3:54 pm |
  98. Rob Littell

    Jimmy Carter's courageous mission, in the name of Abe Lincoln, who once asked, "Do I not destroy my enemies when I make friends of them?, is more than appropriate. Because the current President is incompetent, his policies far more dangerous to Israel than they are to my own NYC.

    Hamas offered a long term truce, and a referendum of the people for to determine whether said truce should become a permanent treaty.
    That's an incredible offer from what I can tell.

    Hamas has put a big fat olive branch on the table, and Israel has responded by slamming down another set of blueprints for further settlement development.

    64% of the Israeli people want to talk to Hamas. But not Bush or Condi or the minority land grabbers.

    As James Baker said to Israel, "When you want peace, you have my phone number. " Israel will founder until there is balance in the region something that Bush failed everyone on.


    April 18, 2008 at 3:55 pm |
  99. James - Miami

    Former Presidents can do whatever they like as long as our tax dollars aren't paying for it or paying for their protection. I think they should become toll booth workers so they stay in touch with the average voter! Problem is – "W" wouldn't be able to give back the correct change and would be fired.

    April 18, 2008 at 3:57 pm |
  100. Sam


    I believe that president Carter has done far better work with the Carter Center than during his presidency.

    What is not clear to me is why there is an obvious and widespread pro-Israeli bias in the US media at the expense of American interestest and American people that wants to tear aparts anybody who tries to restore some balance to our position in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This is clear from the reactions to President Carter's book "Palestine not Apartheid", it is clear from the reactions to Mearsheimer and Walt's paper about the influence of Israeli lobby on US foreign policy (see below), and it is clear from the way the media has handled this trip by President Carter.

    Israel is a great nation that should be given our support only when they deserve it and when it is aligned with American values.


    April 18, 2008 at 3:57 pm |
  101. Rob Littell

    rant rant rant......rant ! I love Obama!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    April 18, 2008 at 3:58 pm |
  102. Alice, West Palm Beach, FL

    They should turn their former presidency into a profitable business venture. That's the American way. Sorry for being bitter.

    April 18, 2008 at 3:59 pm |
  103. Ross in MD

    Jimmy Carter is trying to clean up after the mess Bush II left in the Mid East. God bless him.

    Funny how the people who led us to a $2 trillion war in Iraq say Carter is irresponsible.

    April 18, 2008 at 3:59 pm |
  104. Mary WA

    Why do we teach our children to listen and try to solve problems without violence and then think it is wrong for presidents ,former or current, to put diplomacy way above war? No wonder we have so much voilence in schools and on the sreets. This is the example our government of late ( and times in the past) has set. They lie about their agenda, manufacture consent (mostly through the media) and take us into wars under false pretenses. If McCain wins we won't know if we can beleive him or not. Bush cries "wolf" Mc Cain will, too. We need a President who we can trust so we know if we need to go to war and in the right place. GOOD FOR JIMMY

    April 18, 2008 at 3:59 pm |
  105. Kris

    Well, there is a significantly greater chance that Carter will bring peace and harmony to the Middle East before Bill brings peace and harmony to Hillary's campaign.

    April 18, 2008 at 4:00 pm |
  106. Charles,Jupiter,Florida

    Oh, i was hoping you'd ask this.
    George W. Bush, Special Ambassador to the War Crimes Commison of the Hague.

    April 18, 2008 at 4:01 pm |
  107. Nelson, Knoxville TN


    I think President Carter deserve to be given the benefit of doubt in his efforts to bring peace to the middle east – who knows? His efforts may yield fruitful and positive result. Now to your question, I think former presidents should be more of advisers, role models and peace brokers to the government and the parties they represented not divisive elements.

    April 18, 2008 at 4:01 pm |
  108. Kel from Auburn, AL

    Former presidents are fine with me being in the public eye, so long as they aren't the ugly spectacle of the Presidential Campaign of their spouse (hint, hint).

    Kel from Auburn, AL

    April 18, 2008 at 4:01 pm |
  109. Jarrett

    Oh no! Please don't tell me Carter's meeting with Hamas! God forbid we should breakout into peace!

    Weston, FL

    April 18, 2008 at 4:02 pm |
  110. Michael In Maine

    Our current presidents forien policy is a total disater. Bubya couldn't negotiate his way out of a paper bag with a state department armed with cutting tourches!

    Former Persident Carter is a Nobel Peace Prize Laraurite for his effort that brought Egypt and Isreal to their current peaceful co-existance.

    What has Dubya done anywhere in his 7 plus years to bring peace to anywhere? The dirty truth is... There is no profit in peace. Halliburtan and the big oil companies wouldn't have raked in their "GROSS PROFITS!! under a Carter Administration.

    So what can a former president do... He can show us how true leadership works in a time when we're in a vacuum of leadership!!!

    April 18, 2008 at 4:03 pm |
  111. NickNas


    The only ones I can think of for Bush Jr. would be Doorstop or Hitching post.

    Nick San Diego CA

    April 18, 2008 at 4:03 pm |
  112. Polo, NY

    I say kudos to President Carter. We have to talk to our enemies if we hope to have any hope of peace in this world. Lets not forget it is always good to talk as isolating them will lead to their further getting more radicalized.

    April 18, 2008 at 4:03 pm |
  113. Peggy Duncan

    They can be unofficial ambassadors around the world. Carter should be allowed to talk to Hamas or any other group if he wishes. We are going to have to include them in some way eventually or the Middle East will problems will never solved. Why shouldn't Carter, who has no official status, see what he can do without giving Hamas bragging rights and official recognition.

    P. Duncan

    April 18, 2008 at 4:04 pm |
  114. Bill, Quarryville, PA

    There is an old mafia saying, keep your friends close but your enemies closer. I think someone needs to find out if there can be anyway of settling things other than trying to kill each other. I know our president is willing to go to war at a drop of a hat, that is if they have oil. He won't talk to anyone even if it could stop the killing. His attitude is my way or the highway. We see what that has accomplished, now let's see what discussing the problems in a peaceful way might accomplish. Jack, by the way I agree with you, I switch channels to another news program last night when they cut into your time to show some rich republicans trying to tell jokes.

    April 18, 2008 at 4:05 pm |
  115. shirley

    Former Presidents should stay out of foreign affairs unless they are invited by the President in office. However, Americans are free to travel and speak to whoever they wish. It is the media perhaps who should just not report on private persons business. They have certainly not reported on former President Clinton's lobbying activities.

    April 18, 2008 at 4:05 pm |
  116. Look Under the Pantsuit

    They should be used as representatives of the current administration where practicable and should act on their own accord as they see fit based on their own judgment as individuals. I think Carter is doing good – perhaps Clinton and Bush (Sr) should join him there and support the dialog.

    April 18, 2008 at 4:05 pm |
  117. Drew, FL

    I'm mixed on the issue. Carter, at least, is trying to do something constructive. Peace and diplomacy should always be pursued. Clinton, on the other hand, seems to be freaking out something new each week. Depends on the president, I guess.

    April 18, 2008 at 4:05 pm |
  118. Jennifer

    Carter (an Obama supporter) is doing exactly what Obama has said he will do as President of the US. Keep in mind that they I'm sure are not doing it for just any reason- as their is great personal risk to them in doing so.

    I think it is very heroic for them to be willing to meet with our enemies. The important thing is to set these meetings up so that they are not put in physical peril. That is my only concern.

    I hope one day every American will be able to see what a true national treasure Obama's level- headedness, brilliance, honesty and ideas to get policy improvements achieved are. And those should be protected!

    God bless all of the men and women in the country (willing to go above and beyond for the sake of the people of the US!

    April 18, 2008 at 4:05 pm |
  119. Matthew, Philadelphia, PA

    Why should it come as a surprise that a former president wants to sit down with terrorists? We now have a current presidential candidate (Obama) who wants to sit down with dictators and thugs. No surprise Carter supports Obama.

    April 18, 2008 at 4:05 pm |
  120. Suresh Kumar, Fremont CA

    Let us not forget we are the world's leading democracy !

    Jimmy Carter seems to be doing some genuinely important and far reaching / noble work now (compared to when he was prez.). So what is the harm in letting him do the good work that our government is not doing ?

    Encouraging open dialog by respected ex-presidents is way-better than "my way or no way" philosophy of the present administration.

    Respecting differing opinions is key to a healthy democracy. Hope the media steps up on this, and actually enables such voices to flourish !

    April 18, 2008 at 4:06 pm |
  121. Kevin


    When you do not negotiate with your enemies the only path to peace is the destruction of one of the groups within the conflict.

    If we completely killed off Hamas how many other terrorists organzations would be created from the voilence?

    Didnt Jesus say love your enemies and talk to those that do not agree with you.

    April 18, 2008 at 4:06 pm |
  122. Saad from Ramsey, NJ

    Former Presidents should do what Carter is doing – have a dialogue with parties who the running administration cannot converse with for various different political implications, reasons, and fears of what-ifs!

    If it succeeds on any level, great. If it fails, they are ex-Presidents anyways!

    April 18, 2008 at 4:07 pm |
  123. Marleen

    Hillary mentioned this subject in Wednesday debate; I suspect she intends to use Bill to write her speeches and then assign Carter as her confident in foreign policy issues. This would free her time to practice her shooting skills in Iraq thus ending the war quickely.

    April 18, 2008 at 4:07 pm |
  124. Ken, St. paul MN

    I say we listen very closely to what president Bush thinks is appropriate foreign policy manuevers, then do the absolute opposite. Is this administration suggesting that former pres. Carter could possibly make things worse?

    April 18, 2008 at 4:07 pm |
  125. Damian

    It was high time, someone attempted to open up dialog.
    It's a shame the inaction of the current administration, have left it to administrations past, to pick up the slack.

    If Bush were doing his job, Carter wouldn't have to.
    Good Job Jimmy – you are an example to them all.

    April 18, 2008 at 4:08 pm |
  126. Annie, Atlanta

    There's nothing wrong with Jimmy Carter talking to Hamas leaders. He's probably the greatest peacekeeper we'll ever see. Israel just has it's nose out of joint because of his not so far off comparison of them to S. Africa, and this administration thinks they're too good to talk to anyone who isn't "for them." Let him do what he does best.

    April 18, 2008 at 4:09 pm |
  127. Marie, sc

    Hasn't Hillary learned that sending Bill out to speak about important issues will come back with a vengence? File this as another example of bad character and judgement.

    April 18, 2008 at 4:09 pm |
  128. William

    Just what we Americans need, more polticians travelling around opening up their big yap. He was a terrible president, couldn't get our people out of Iran and has no clout. Wait a minute...maybe he could get re-elected with those vast credentials.

    Who paid for this trip ?

    April 18, 2008 at 4:10 pm |
  129. Redfoot, NJ

    Mr. Carter is Good Man and as President didn't have the Best Cabinet He could. His Choices were very good in some advisers.
    He keeps trying to do Good for the World. I wish he would get more people to support him before he goes on these trips to talk to other Digateries of the World,
    I don't agree that he will hurt our country by talking to these contriversal people. Because all I see is we may get some insight of what they're up to. I don't think it will hurt us.

    April 18, 2008 at 4:10 pm |
  130. Steve

    We need someone to try for peace. The Bush Administration certainly won't do it. Jimmy Carter is highly regarded in the Middle East. His next stop should be Israel. Maybe he can calm the madness.

    April 18, 2008 at 4:11 pm |
  131. Will H.

    The good work that Bush Sr. and B. Clinton has done around the world is something that former presidents should do. It helps to boost America's image as humanitarian and giving. The impact of their work after the Tsunami in southeast Asia led to an increase in the favorability of Americans in that area. J. Carter's talk with Hamas, however, shows a sign to the rest of the world that we're reckless. His visit clearly defies the wishes of many Americans, as well as gives legitimacy to a terrorist group.

    April 18, 2008 at 4:12 pm |
  132. Ray in West Chester, PA

    I think it's reasonable and useful for them to do non-governmental work like disaster relief, charity, etc. Presidents Bush, Clinton and Carter have all done very well in that area.
    I don't think it's appropriate for them to undermine or interfere with current government activities / policies. At that point, it looks like political posturing...

    April 18, 2008 at 4:12 pm |
  133. Will H.

    The good work that Bush Sr. and B. Clinton has done around the world is something that former presidents should do. It helps to boost America’s image as humanitarian and giving. The impact of their work after the Tsunami in southeast Asia led to an increase in the favorability of Americans in that area. J. Carter’s talk with Hamas, however, shows a sign to the rest of the world that we’re reckless. His visit clearly defies the wishes of many Americans, as well as gives legitimacy to a terrorist group.

    Will H.
    Pittsburgh, PA

    April 18, 2008 at 4:13 pm |
  134. Jon

    Carter is an idiot. He was a terrible president, and he is pulling similar bonehead maneuvers that he did while in office, when he began dismantling the nation's infrastructure. Carter should be locked up now, and he should have been locked up 30 years ago.

    April 18, 2008 at 4:13 pm |
  135. j. king colorado springs

    Former presidents need to get out of the way and let the current leadership lead. The military has been leading the way on this concept for many years. When a commander retires or is reassigned, he is a vapor. It has to be this way. How can the new leadership establish themselves, if the old leadership keeps hanging on? They had their shot and it is time for them to move on...

    April 18, 2008 at 4:13 pm |
  136. tim

    well , in the case of the clintons, his roll should be instructing hillary how to lie.he had a lot of practice at it .she on the other hand is getting caught every time she opens her mouth.

    April 18, 2008 at 4:13 pm |
  137. Steve

    As a private person, they are entitled to do ANYTHING a private person can do. They should refrain from giving the impression they are representing the U.S. unless the U.S. Government envites them

    April 18, 2008 at 4:14 pm |
  138. MD

    Carter was not much of a president. He destablized the Middle East by engineering the removal of the Shah of Iran. Interest rates were at their highest ever, and the spiral effect of it pushed people into bankrupcies and foreclosures.

    However, as a private citizen, Carter has been a model American. This is a litmus test for Obama who advocates talking to our enemies as means of resolving issues of concern to the United States.

    I think there is a lot to be said for the "Keeping your friend close, but keeping your enemy closer." By snubbing, labeling, and alienating those who do not do the Amercian Government's bidding only reinforces bad behavior (as evident by Bush's brand of foriegn "diplomacy").

    Although in the news there is a cry from Bush's camp about Carter's visit, it is naive to think that Carter is doing what he is doing without high-level vetting and blessing.

    April 18, 2008 at 4:14 pm |
  139. lin FL

    What would happen if Mexican government was launching rockets in the USA and killing americans with suicide bombers and an Israeli prime minister would go to Mexico to have talks with them, how would Americans feel, i don't know would you be OK with that.

    April 18, 2008 at 4:15 pm |
  140. Morgan, Canada

    You know this whole Israel / Palestinian situation is horrible. Sure, all we see are the suicide bombers, but that's not all there is going on there. There are innocent people and children there who are suffering, and contrary to popular belief they are not all "terrorists". The bottom line is that no one has advanced in finding a solution for these people who live in circumstances that we cannot even fathom.

    Is it wrong for a sitting president to sit with a Hamas leader? Perhaps, Hamas is not a legitimate government (are they?). But for former president to try and make headway in a situation that only seems to escalate doesn't seem wrong to me. Bottom line there are people who are suffering and he is trying to make a difference, nothing wrong with that in my books.

    April 18, 2008 at 4:15 pm |
  141. Ed Chapman

    Former President Carter's meeting with terrorist Hamas leaders, despite being asked not to by the U.S. State Department tell's me one thing! Carter is dreaming if he thinks for a minute his meeting with Hamas will prevent this terrorist organization from carrying out it's ultimate goal and that is the destruction of the state of Israel! Carter should stay put in Plains, Georgia, and save the taxpayers a lot of money! His frequent pointless trips around the globe with Secret Service protection, doing nothing but add to the tax burden of the American worker, because we are paying his freight for his "adventures"! Stay home Jimmy!!!!!!!!

    April 18, 2008 at 4:16 pm |
  142. Will


    Having brokered the Camp David Treaty between Israel and Egypt, I think Jimmy Carter has earned the right to have a dialogue with the key players in the region, including Hamas leaders. It bothers me how much some people are opposed to this. Just the other day I heard a so-called expert from the American Enterprise Institute talking about how engaging a terrorist group like Hamas will only embolden them. Well I ask you, Mr. Neo-con; we've had it your way for the last 7 years, and what has been the outcome?

    Like Obama says, we should never negotiate out of fear, but we should also never fear to negotiate!

    Will in Vancouver WA

    April 18, 2008 at 4:17 pm |
  143. Barbara Schieber, Guatemala, Guatemala

    President Carter is one of the most respected and admired Americans in the world today.
    I am not American, I see you from the outside – something Americans are just not able to do. Lack of perspective.

    Carter has always been hampered by people who have no vision or are seriously myopic.
    Especially all the people who care more about political correctness and popularity than results and integrity.

    He still walks his walk and talks his talk. He deserves respect.
    Especially from people who do nothing and only criticize. Writing opinions is easy, doing something meaningful takes actual work.

    President Carter is one of the few Americans that still has credibility in the world, and I congratulate the US of A for producing such personalities, even when they get fewer and fewer. It is good to be reminded, that when Americans really want to do something good, they can actually do it.

    April 18, 2008 at 4:18 pm |
  144. Jamil - Dearborn, MI


    Whether we like it or not, Hamas did win a landslide election in the Palestinian territories. If there is going to be peace, they are definetely going to be a major player because of the support they enjoy in that part of the world. Isolating them hasn't worked – that Israeli soldier has been held by them for nearly 3 years now. I don't see the problem with Carter meeting with them to simply hear what they have to say and try to convince them to release that soldier. Pres. Carter doesn't have the power to offer them anything all. All he can do is talk to them and I don't see what harm that could do!

    April 18, 2008 at 4:18 pm |
  145. Stan, Muskogee, OK

    That's why President Carter has a Nobel Prize under his belt, and Clinton and W never will.

    April 18, 2008 at 4:18 pm |
  146. Don Gomez in Kailua Kona, Hawaii

    Jack, Perhaps these ex-presidents can be ambassadors but only if their agenda is in line with the current President (Obama). If they are on a mission to help our country their song should be the same as the orchestra leader, not their own song.

    Bush should definitely stay out of sight.

    Don in Kailua Kona, Hawaii

    April 18, 2008 at 4:18 pm |
  147. Pamela NYC

    I think Obama needs to be sure to ignore the rest of Clinton and McCain's silly season attempts. I expect that's what we'll hear from them until the PA votes are counted. Obama doesn't need to become distracted by them.

    April 18, 2008 at 4:20 pm |
  148. Carly Pildis

    As Hamas has openly declared that they feel no obligation to honor any peace treaties they sign, and in recent history have admitted to using ceasefires to regroup and rebuild their arsenals, I see little point in negotiating with them. What great plan could come out of meeting with a group that has as its stated goal the destruction of the state of Israel, oh and not to mention the killing of American citizens. Its written in their charter, which is readily available online. I mostly find myself wondering how someone who has written so much anti-Israel propaganda could possibly believe they have the ability to broker any sort of deal. Carter's meetings with Hamas are as ridiculous as they are pointless

    April 18, 2008 at 4:21 pm |
  149. Ig

    Jack, the last time I checked, Carter is a free citizen of this nation, who was an ex-president and do not, in any way shape or form, represent this country in a government capacity. Therefore, I do not see the reason why he cannot talk to anyone who he wishes to talk to. Secondly, we seriously have to take another look on how we relate to the rest of the world. Goerge Bush's administration should quietly welcome this move as it may be an opportunity for true reconciliation in the middle-east. We cannot continue to push forward an agenda of isolation that has not given us positive results around the world. We've paid with over 4000 lives in a conflict in Iraq. Maybe we should try something that wouldn't require the sacrifice of lives. That being said, I support Carter as an ambassador of peace. John Hagee should take note.

    Severn, Maryland

    April 18, 2008 at 4:22 pm |
  150. Mike, Dillingham AK

    Recent former Presidents Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush, and Bill Clinton, have all provided very "appropriate" and beneficial services to the nation and world since leaving the White House and hopefully they will continue to so. Perhaps, Jack, a better question might be: how many years of "community service" should members of the current administration be required to perform after they are paroled or, more likely, issued blanket pardons?

    April 18, 2008 at 4:23 pm |
  151. JT from TN

    Great for Jimmy carter to try and lend a hand. The only thing is President bush and his administration is going to listen to pres. Carter just like bush has listened to the American people....NOT AT ALL!!!!!!! One more comment Bill Clinton said he would support Hillary even if she wasn't his wife do you believe him?

    April 18, 2008 at 4:23 pm |
  152. Judy

    Carter is more than an ex president, he has a noble peace prize, something neither Bush pres will ever be awarded. He should do as he sees fit. Jimmy Carter has done something right, to have won the world's respect

    April 18, 2008 at 4:24 pm |
  153. Grif

    I guess he finally got around to reading the "The Tale of Two City's..

    April 18, 2008 at 4:24 pm |
  154. Peter S., Coweta County, Georgia

    Each former president has to decide his own role, Jack.

    Jerry Ford was criticized for being too interested in making money as a former president whether the charge was true or not.

    Ronald Reagan was criticized for the speaking fees he made – the amounts and the audiences.

    Jimmy Carter was criticized for "campaigning" for the Nobel Prize.

    Now Bill Clinton is being criticized as a racist while speaking up for his wife, a ridiculous charge if ever there was one, especially coming from fellow Democrats, and Carter is being criticized for trying to promote Middle East peace even though no one else seems interested in the subject.

    Former presidents are a valuable commodity, Jack. Hopefully, the events and the criticisms of recent weeks haven't destroyed any desire on the part of Presidents Clinton and Carter to ever serve again.

    April 18, 2008 at 4:25 pm |
  155. Kellie, Philadelphia

    They sure as heck shouldn't be involved in their wives presidential campaigns. That's crossing the line and the DNC should have told Bill to shut up and sit down 15 months ago. But then again, who can control Bill! Not even Hillary.

    April 18, 2008 at 4:25 pm |
  156. Shelley

    I believe former Presidents of the U.S.A. have much to offer in the way of experience, knowledge and tact that can only be acquired through the unique experience of holding the office. Certainly, they should not abuse this power to undermine the best interests of our country. I do not consider Carter's attempt to open communications with an exiled Hamas politician overstepping the boundaries. Such actions are neutral and cost nothing. They can only bring enlightenment. Hillary's promise of Bill globe-hopping almost makes me want to vote for her – if I could be reassured that he is still in full command of his faculties. Lately, it is questionable. His Teflon is wearing thin. Bottom line...I think we need to make greater use of former Presidents in a myriad of ways: diplomatically, economic policy, social issues, and most of all, aiding in putting the bounce back in the step of Americans.

    Palatka, FL

    April 18, 2008 at 4:25 pm |
  157. Alfie --- Palmdale, Cal.

    They need to stay out of the way. This includes Bilbo Baggage, and the former Bush. Carter should stick to building habitats and growing peanuts, as that seems to be the only thing he has ever been qualified to do.

    April 18, 2008 at 4:27 pm |
  158. Donna (Princeton, New Jersey)


    It would be nice if all of the former Presidents and VP's became hedge fund managers for the sole purpose of bringing down or removing the national debt.

    April 18, 2008 at 5:01 pm |
  159. Donna Metcalfe

    The White House has made it clear that they refuse to talk with anyone they deem an enemy. President Carter is doing what needs to be done in the absence of reasonable diplomacy. If Bush had any sense he would talk to the "enemy " and look for a solution to the problems in the middle east. Clearly this will not happen during this administration. My husband is a Republican but even he will tell you Jimmy Carter was an honest man in a dishonest place called Washington,DC .

    April 18, 2008 at 5:06 pm |
  160. Marc, ex-pat in Germany

    Jimmy Carter should take a lesson from MacAuthur and fade away. Whether you agree with him or his administration, GW is in fact, the current duly elected president, and as such, is constitutionally empowered to conduct foreign policy on behalf of the United States. It is basically BS to assert, as some of the other bloggers have done, that Carter is a private citizen and should be able to talk to whomever he wants. How many private citizens are former presidents that warrant United States Secret Service protection (a total of three by my count)? As a former President (who is well on record as opposing the policies of the current administration), his meeting with the Hamas representatives, conveys legitimacy where it is probably not deserved, and will certainly be highlighted by Al Jazeera. While Carter was successful in with the Camp David Accords (which is truly commendable), it is really just a blip - ask the mothers and fathers of the thousands of the Arabs and Israelis that have died since!

    April 18, 2008 at 5:06 pm |
  161. TN

    I think it is good! i don't know where's the mindset of we can't sit down and talk to others who disagree with us... it sound like a bush idea. that's the problem people outside of america now.... they think we are so above them!!!

    GO CARTER!!!

    April 18, 2008 at 5:06 pm |
  162. Rick Jeffrey

    Former Presidents should be roving ambasadors. You have to talk to your enimies as well as your allies. The world is becoming too small a place for isolationism. The Republicans are big on calling Democrats Isolationists then not want to talk to anyone. As far as sending Presidents out, I can't wait until we can send George W. Bush anywhere but here maybe we should send him to Mexico since he has helped their econmy more than ours. Or better yet let him be perminent Ambassador to Iraq since he has been more worried about their freedoms than ours. Send him over to Iraq and put him in that big palace he just built that cost us 100's of millions of dollars.

    April 18, 2008 at 5:07 pm |
  163. Don Blue Springs, Missouri

    Carter is just checking out the sitution for Barrack. He is a citizen so he can do what he wants to do. We are paying for him so its probably a good idea if they would do some work for the governemnt. He can find out whats going on before Obama so Obama can go over there and talk to him when he gets in.

    April 18, 2008 at 5:08 pm |
  164. brent , texas

    Bless his heart. Jimmy Carter has tremendous good in his heart and a lot of loose screws in his head. As a former President, all those with that title are entitled to their opinion and their decisions. Albeit those decisions have consequences.

    April 18, 2008 at 5:08 pm |
  165. Roaring Moose

    There are power brokers and there are piece brokers. It never hurts to talk. Piece begins with a word then another and another. But somebody as to say the first word that leads towards piece. President Carter has more guts then most of our former leaders

    April 18, 2008 at 5:08 pm |
  166. Mike S., New Orleans

    I think the appropriate role for our soon-to-be former president is to work like the rest of us will be doing to pay off all the debt he racked up in the past eight years.

    April 18, 2008 at 5:09 pm |
  167. Frank from Roxbury, N.J.

    I believe Jimmy Carter is doing the right thing. You can't make any progress with someone you won't talk to. You have to find out what they want before you can say no. If we wont talk to them, and Israel wont talk to them, how do they make themselves heard? A former presidents role depends on who he is. Bush should give away all his money to help balance the national debt, and then go join a monastery that takes a vow of silence.Clinton should just take a vow of silence. None of these guys learn from history, if we had opened dialogue with Ho Chi Minh, we would have seen his side of the situation and what he wanted, but it's hard to talk over the din of bombs going off, and rifle and artillery fire.

    April 18, 2008 at 5:10 pm |
  168. Gary

    None for Clinton. Carter should get a medal.

    April 18, 2008 at 5:10 pm |
  169. deb in az

    i dont think that president carter should have gone on this trip unless he was asked to do so by the white house.......this is a question of national security...............he had no experience to be president so history states.....maybe he feels that he can solve the problems of the world and be remembered that way instead the way history actually will remember him as the president.

    April 18, 2008 at 5:11 pm |
  170. Kris Craig, Olympia, WA

    Well Jack, if our current president won't engage in diplomacy, then who else does that leave us?

    April 18, 2008 at 5:11 pm |
  171. Vincent Tonione

    Former presidents have a big responsibility to not just disapear but continue to influence american society and the future they have just as much at stake, but should be talking to the US government before doing anything .

    April 18, 2008 at 5:12 pm |
  172. Anita

    In Bill Clinton's case, he needs to sit down and shut up.... Especially if your wife is running for your previous role.

    West Orange, NJ

    April 18, 2008 at 5:12 pm |
  173. Greg, Pennsylvania

    President Bush has always reminded us that talking with those we consider enemies is dangerous. I have a feeling that if Kennedy was here, he'd remind us that speaking with Cubia and the USSR prevented a nuclear holocaust. I'm sure Nixon would remind us that we fought an armed war and cold war against China until he started speaking with them. Carter just needs to remind us that he also created a peace between Israel and Egypt by speaking to our ally's enemies. Heaven forbid we actually try to understand the wants of Hamas, huh? Maybe then, most Americans would know that the Palestinians actually have some valid complaints, such as the demolition of their homes and having sewage run-off flowing in their streets.

    April 18, 2008 at 5:12 pm |
  174. Ala

    A president doesnt stop being involved in politics just because their term is over. I think its great that he's using his influence to help areas of conflict. Why are people so afraid of talking to Hamas-because we dont agree with them? we teach grade schoolers to be fair to everyone, why cant our government be the same way

    April 18, 2008 at 5:15 pm |
  175. Jeff S.

    I don't care if Carter or Clinton travel around the world meeting with bombers, or selling our economy to the Columbians...

    Why am I paying for the Secret Service detail and for transportation ?

    Can we charge past Presidents for Secret Service security when they leave the shores of America on trips that are not 'requested' by the sitting President or Congress ?

    April 18, 2008 at 5:15 pm |
  176. Scott/Tampa

    What difference does it make if it's the local ice cream truck driver or a former president? The bottom line is someone is giving up their own time to try make a positive difference for others. That's more than we in this country usually get for our money. Pat the man on the back.

    April 18, 2008 at 5:15 pm |
  177. Anne

    God bless Jimmy Carter and any other past president who goes forth seeking peace and reconciliation.

    Pittsburgh, PA.

    April 18, 2008 at 5:15 pm |
  178. Jeanette Lewis

    I think what President Carter is trying to do is bring some much needed peace in the Middle East or as least get them talking again. What has Bush done in the last eight years? We need some damage control. Our next President is going to have the difficult responsibility of rebuilding our reputation. Other countries no longer trust us and who can blame them. The good old Bushy administration is to blame for that. JL Hilliard, Oh

    April 18, 2008 at 5:15 pm |
  179. John

    Jimmy Carter is an exception to any rule that former presidents should follow, as he is very highly respected around the world as a peacemaker. Unfortunately, Americans seem to be the only citizens of the world unaware of this. Carter has done more for enabling peace around the world than nearly any other head of state of recent times, other than Pope John Paul II. The rest of the world is aware of this and grateful to see at least one American citizen who isn’t mired with the violence, ignorance and greed of the Bush Administration and their cronies and supporters.

    April 18, 2008 at 5:15 pm |
  180. Laura cedar key florida

    that depends on who the former president is.considering our most recent choices it would make me glad to never hear another word from any of them.

    April 18, 2008 at 5:15 pm |
  181. Carmine Wood

    The appropriate role for an ex-president is to act presidential. Who better in the US to talk to Hamas than Jimmy Carter except maybe Barrack Obama.

    It's time we started talking and understanding differences. It's diplomacy instead of war.

    What's wrong with talking and gaining new insights and understanding?

    April 18, 2008 at 5:15 pm |
  182. Larry Mial

    Sometimes things have to be done on behalf of the American people and world peace that requires someone of substance and stature that standing presidents cannot do because of political concerns. Peace in any corner of the world is worth pursuing. If we could negotiate with Nazis and Communists, certainly we can negotiate with others. Someone has to initiate dialogue. What better person to do that than a former President of the United States.

    April 18, 2008 at 5:15 pm |
  183. Raj, Toronto

    America does not know the word diplomacy, its not in there vocabulary. These are important first steps to understanding meddle east politics. You have to understand Hamas is a political organization, they control the Gaza strip, the very reason why Israel is at war with Muslim nations, thus the reason why United States foreign policy is in line with Israel. So why is American foreign policy hated across the whole world? And when a politician wants to change this, and wants to solve these issues, we tell him to get lost. Carter is acting as a private citizen, he is doing more to create peace then Bush foreign policy in 8 years. It always seems that politicians want to solve issues in there last year in office, like peace in the middle east or climate change. This issue needs persistence and understand, so stop being stupid America, wake up.

    April 18, 2008 at 5:15 pm |
  184. Mary Jean Golden

    Listening to the fuss over who Jimmy Carter can talk to makes me visualize a bunch of people in short pants and poodle skirts saying in bratty pre-adolscent voices, "and if you talk to that person, you can't be my friend anymore."

    April 18, 2008 at 5:16 pm |
  185. EDIAS

    There is enough humanitarian issues such as hunger, children's welfare, aids/cancer and other global health issues to occupy former presidents. It is counterproductive and can cause severe harm to allow these people that technically are no longer in government to interfere with political issues that are the responsability of current leaders.

    April 18, 2008 at 5:16 pm |
  186. Omar Baddar

    The appropriate role for former Presidents is to not follow stupid current policy which includes not talking to democratically elected parties which we don't like. Let him try to bring people together. Carter talking to Hamas is no worse than Bush talking to the Israeli government, the Saudi government, or whatever other government that is guilty of committing brutal acts. Which government didn't? Stop with the ridiculous double standard!

    Boston, MA

    April 18, 2008 at 5:16 pm |
  187. Stephen Robison

    I think the former presidents role is dictated by the sitting president. If the current president can't accomplish anything, and isn't even trying, thank goodness President Carter is trying to solve a problem. I wish him success.

    April 18, 2008 at 5:16 pm |
  188. David

    In this case, the role of former Presidents is to talk with the legitimately elected government of Palestine. As usual, the tail is wagging the dog and our current President won't talk to Hamas because Israel has ordered him not to. It seems the US is only in favor of democracies when they elect the people we, or Israel, want them to. God bless Jimmy Carter.

    Charleston WV

    April 18, 2008 at 5:16 pm |
  189. georgia


    I think that former President Carter should immediately send for Hillary to help him out with his tour. And, please God, keep her until after the election in November!!

    georgia from nc

    April 18, 2008 at 5:16 pm |
  190. Chris from Arizona

    Former presidents have the same responsibility as every other American citizen, and that is to represent this country and our ideals to the best of their abilities.

    April 18, 2008 at 5:16 pm |
  191. eric

    i belive we need help around the world but not by any means do i think some one should take it upon them self to just go to people that are against us or not trying to do things in a peacful manner

    April 18, 2008 at 5:17 pm |
  192. Sheryl

    The role of a former President – to campaign for his wife who is running for President.

    April 18, 2008 at 5:17 pm |
  193. Calvin

    Jimmy Carter has it right. He is doing a good work-despite the challenges. I remember a "crisis" when a young man shot the prior pope, Hohn Paul. I imagine that was an incident of terrorism, yet Pope Paul, not only forgave the man-he met him in person. A (world) leader meeting with a "dissident".

    I am glad for all the work, Mr. Carter does. It shows character and determination to a (good) cause.

    April 18, 2008 at 5:17 pm |
  194. P in Pa

    Why does former Pres. Carter think he has the capability to nurture peace in the Mideast when he couldn't do it when he was President?

    He needs to stick with his humanitarian efforts for Houses for Humanity. That actually will help the American public.

    I applaud the Israeli and USA government for not sanctioning Carter visiting with known terrorists.

    April 18, 2008 at 5:17 pm |
  195. Ed Badeaux

    In my opinion Jimmy Carter has earned the right to do whatever he deems necessary to help make peace in the world. Israel won't talk to Hamas, Washington won't talk to Hamas, and yet the Palestinian people voted Hamas in overwhelmingly. Do we believe in free elections? Even if they seem to go against our interests? How is the Israel-Palestinian situation ever going to improve if no one will talk to Hamas. Good for Jimmy Carter. He tells it like it is, has labeled Israel's treatment of Palestinians for what it is, Apartheid. Good luck to him in this, the world's most thankless and impossible task.

    April 18, 2008 at 5:17 pm |
  196. Lois Wade

    Any previous president should function only as an advisor to the currentl administration. With all due respect to President Carter, it is not his place (nor would it be any previous president) to confer with freign nations.

    April 18, 2008 at 5:17 pm |
  197. Tom Libby

    Leave Jimmy Carter alone. What he's doing doesn't encourage Hamas (who were elected) and he can't do anything official. At least he's trying to make peace. It's worth it if he saves a few lives. Should we leave it up to Bush and co.? Or the State Dept which doesn't know it it has a plan or not?

    April 18, 2008 at 5:18 pm |
  198. Burt - Sun Lakes, Az

    I think being goodwill ambassadors would be a good role. We need all the help we can get with the damage the current admistration has done to our image around the world. I at least give former President Carter credit for trying since the Bush bunch doesn't seem to give a damn what the rest of the world thinks and can only bang the war drums if someone disagrees with them.

    April 18, 2008 at 5:18 pm |
  199. Susan Cunningham

    Former presidents should, like the rest of us, do what they do best with their talents. President Carter is a peace maker. He understands how to bring warring factions together. The only reason there is "outrage" about his trip to the Middle East is because he's the only one with the courage to say that Israel is part of the problem. Can you imagine any other country getting away with the kind of "collective punishment" that Israel has been doing to the Palestinians for decades? Isn't collective punishment against the Geneva Conventions? What good does it accomplish except to continue the war and more US dollars for Israel.

    April 18, 2008 at 5:18 pm |
  200. Jeff Crow

    Carter's role as a free-lance goodwill ambassador (completely disassociated from the current administration) is not only appropriate; it is one of the few positive things going for us internationally at the moment. The proposal for Bill Clinton to become a sanctioned goodwill ambassador would do a great deal to repair the incalculable damage to the image of this country that has been done by the current administration. Now, an appropriate role for the current president upon his retirement would be inmate in a federal prison along with most, if not all of his senior staff.

    April 18, 2008 at 5:18 pm |
  201. John Sack

    All this time there's been fighting and killing in the war-infested mideast. For once, the one option that president Carter has chosen is to work on getting the fight parties to talk, and we say he's gone too far? What have we come to? We don't know what peace talks are anymore? Let President Carter courageously do what he believes he can do to help!
    John Sack, Washington, DC

    April 18, 2008 at 5:18 pm |
  202. Joyce Langson

    I think former presidents,who have good raport with forgein countries should become ambassadors.Who could know more about to deal successfully with these countries?RJ Langson

    April 18, 2008 at 5:18 pm |
  203. Carrie, Southern Wisconsin

    Jack, Carter is doing something very few people seem to be trying to do...creating better relations between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Until progress is made on that front, problems in that part of the world will just continue to get worse.

    It all goes back to the timesof Lawrence of Arabia. The Palestinians were lied to. They didn't get athe homeland they'd been promised. Only Israel did. And that was only the beginning of the problem. Why don't people read history? What can it hurt for Carter to try? No one else is?

    I'm not so sure Bill Clinton should be doing a lot with foreign policy. He seems too prone to angry outbursts these days and seem to create controversy. I did admire what he and the first Pres. Bush did in the aftermath of the Tsunami, though.

    April 18, 2008 at 5:18 pm |
  204. Ed Palmer

    So what do you expect ... a maritime engineer who made a fortune in the peanut business to walk lock step with an MBA who bankrupted three perfectly good oil companies? Not likely. Short of high crimes, misdemeanors and treason, I think former presidents should be loosed - even the next one, who is likely to continue making a fool of himself. I rooted for Jimmy Carter while he was president and still do. You go, Bubba Jimmy!

    April 18, 2008 at 5:18 pm |
  205. Adel Malek, Mission Viejo, CA

    Former President Carter is doing great job; and that's why he is a Nobel prize winner for PEACE. He is respected in the Middle East, unlike our current president. So, it is OK for him to discuss peace issues as long as the State department is not doing their job. I wish Bush would send Carter to more countries; but that would immediately show their failure, especially in the election year.

    April 18, 2008 at 5:18 pm |
  206. Robert E. Bell

    The first obligation of our passed presidentsis to NOT undermine our foreign policy. Although one may disagree with that policy undermining it on the world stage is potentially very harmful to the national.

    Robert Bell
    Charles Town, WV

    April 18, 2008 at 5:19 pm |
  207. Augustine

    Jack,let people who are honestly searching for true peace level all mountains to do so.As long as I support Israel,I,m afraid the Israelist donot want peace in the middle east ,because an independent palestinian nation with its own strong millitary will mean more threats to Israel.Israel prefer the current situation.No body can take Carter,s right of association,period.

    April 18, 2008 at 5:19 pm |
  208. Jake

    When we as a nation have elected a person to be our President, it is a shame to disregard those years of global involvement to the discard pile of history. Jimmy Carter is not afraid of investing our trust in him 30 years ago. He is a catalyst for hope and peace in midst of the present presidential blunders that threaten generations to come.

    Jake in Oregon

    April 18, 2008 at 5:19 pm |
  209. Susan from Twentynine Palms, CA

    The Presidency does not carry a lifetime term. At the end of their service they become private citizens. Is Carter's behavior appropriate? Probably not, but it could be argued that his behavior as President wasn't always appropriate either.

    April 18, 2008 at 5:19 pm |
  210. Marie

    Jack, we have to start somewhere! Fifty years from now people will wonder why no one thought to speak with them sooner. Fifty years from now perhaps the children will look at their parents and wonder "what took so long!"
    As a private citizen, Carter can do as he pleases and if it plants a seed for future talks that's fine. But if the seeds of peace are planted Israel will have to find another excuse not to come to the table. They could always declare someone irrelevant!
    New York

    April 18, 2008 at 5:19 pm |
  211. Andrew

    I think carter is taking the rational road to peace. So long as the US supports one side unconditionally in the murdering of the other we cant get peace, so long as you leave one armed faction out you cant get peace. If hamas is left out they attack, and the palastinians get blamed for it as well, then Israel responds killing as man civilians as they do hamas members and palastine stops talking to them. Don't get me wrong i have no great love of either side seeing how they treat their enemies but the current policies are never gonna lead to peace and its blatantly obvious considering how long its continued to go on with no progress made.

    April 18, 2008 at 5:19 pm |
  212. Maria from Evergreen, CO

    It seems to me that when a US President , or any elected offficial for that matter, is no longer in office they should resume life as ordinary citizens. Period. Philanthropic work is one thing, and we all have a responsibility to our fellow man in that regard, but having meetings with foreign Heads of State, whether on the fringe or officially recognized by the world community, is quite another!!

    April 18, 2008 at 5:21 pm |
  213. Andre

    This is our planet, there is no where else to go. Therefore all former presidents should be ambassadors of peace. Which is what Carter mission is trying to achieve
    If not, why not just destroy the planet? Because thats the other option.

    As for Bush he's the exception. He should be arrested for crimes against humanity. The worst leader this country has ever known.

    April 18, 2008 at 5:22 pm |
  214. Roger, Anderson SC

    I agree with everything President Carter is doing, but it seems to me that most people in the world believe he is an official representative of the U.S. So I don't think he should be doing what he's doing, but why don't we have 'official' representatives doing this?

    April 18, 2008 at 5:23 pm |
  215. Marie

    When you have a current president like the one we've been saddled with for 8 years, you thank God there is a Jimmy Carter, a man who is much respected and admired as a sincere diplomat and humanitarian for decades world-wide. "Blow 'em up Bush" has destroyed the U.S.'s image and credibility world-wide. Anything sane and reasonable, like TALKING to foreign groups, even those we hotly disagree with, is only better for our country and our credibility. Not talking hasn't worked out so swell for us or anyone else in the last 6 years of war. Carter's not making deals, making promises or telling secrets, and all parties he is effecting are aware of that fact. Good for Carter - and good for us.

    April 18, 2008 at 5:23 pm |
  216. Loretta from New Jersey

    I would say that former Presidents can contribute much to humanity and mankind based on their own past experience. There were probably many issues left unresolved during their time in office, and now as elder statesmen no longer under pressure, their wisdom can be invaluable. I agree with former President Jimmy Carter, "better to know your enemy". Perhaps if George W. Bush and Dick Cheney had tried more dialogue and less demagoguery, over 4,000 of our sons and daughters would be still alive and thousands upon thousands of Iraqis would not have died in a war which should never have been fought.

    April 18, 2008 at 5:23 pm |
  217. James W. Blevins

    Jack your prejudice is showing. Former presidents are highly respected private citizens - within the limits of the law, they are entitled to do whatever they want. In Carter's case, he is a winner of the Nobel Peace prize - everyone should listen very carefully to what he says. He has identified and written a book about the root cause of most of the problems in the USA. Extreme prejudice toward Israel. America should look very closely at what Carter is doing, root out their prejudice and thereby make the world a much better place.

    Jim, Craig, CO

    April 18, 2008 at 5:23 pm |
  218. Mark Freeman

    It's not for us to tell private citizens what they should and should not do; even if they are ex-presidents. If Carter is breaking a law then maybe we need examine the situation more and the law more. However, one of the major problems in the peace process in Palestine is that no one listens to Hamas; a major grass roots movement. This is because they take the 'moral high ground' and allow their anger and pride to get in the way of real progress provided by effective communication and deplomacy. If Bush is a 'real christian' then why doesn't he follow the beattitudes (blessed are the peace makers) and the concept of 'love thy neighbor ?' Our problem is that we are proud and still believe that 'might is right' and fail to see that there are actually moderates in Hamas who can influence the organization for peace. From all of this nonsense, I conclude that we don't want peace; we want to to be right.

    April 18, 2008 at 5:23 pm |
  219. Dennis Sharp - Warren, Ohio

    Stick to peanut farming and building houses. Stick to speaking engagements. Stick to retirement, Just stick to something other than roaming around without the voters support attempting to do what the in-house politicians are supposed to be doing.

    April 18, 2008 at 5:24 pm |
  220. Michael King

    President Bush has done more to damage our county and the economy than any other person in recent history. We have few friends in the world today. Congratulations to President Carter for trying to make a change. Diplomacy not bullets will change the world.

    April 18, 2008 at 5:24 pm |
  221. dave

    I believe that former president carter is doing a good thing, just maybe he can bring a little empathy to each party which is whats needed. I just hope to god that the moron that is now sitting in the oval office doesn't follow his lead! Unless it involves a war crimes trial or a civil trial for the thousands of needless deaths that bushy's directly responsible for, I hope he's never heard from again!

    April 18, 2008 at 5:24 pm |
  222. Mark Oklahoma City, OK

    How about Carter going back to planting peanuts, Clinton going back to selling used cars and when George W. Bush retires, he can teach grammer in 2nd grade!

    April 18, 2008 at 5:24 pm |
  223. emma Jordan

    Jimmy Carter is a man of peace. He has enormous credibility.
    Hamas may not be to our liking but they won the Palestinian election which we, the U. S. , insisted be held. We might remember the pain of the hostages held by Iran during his presidency. But was any one of them killed? Were civilians killed? Was there any collateral damage? If you have read his book on the Middle East issue (and not just the criticism) you would have been impressed with his understanding and fairness on the issues. If we don't
    talk with those who behavior we want to change, what is the alternative? Do we really prefer war? Jimmy Carter is an honorable man who does not flinch when disparaged. I am very grateful for his bravery and his very good sense.

    April 18, 2008 at 5:24 pm |
  224. Terry McG

    How does Hillary explain that it seems all of Bill’s X-cabinet members are either silent about endorsements or in favor of OBAMA. To me that says something very important about both Bill and Hillary!

    April 18, 2008 at 5:25 pm |
  225. Cindy in Indiana

    I won't vote for Hillary for sure now. The roaming x-president Bill humilated the US citizens. Why would Hillary humilate the World? I guess she hasn't had enough of riding his coat tales?

    April 18, 2008 at 5:25 pm |
  226. Mark Lewakowski


    Foreign Policy is not a place where Former Presidents should tread without a permission slip from the current adminstration. President Carter–even with all his positives with the Carter Peace Center and Habitant for Humanity–is potentially doing our nation a disservice by this particular trip to the Middle East.

    Jack: The same goes for former President Clinton. He seems to be doing a lot of foreign travel too.

    April 18, 2008 at 5:25 pm |
  227. john marlton nj

    It is in the United States best interest for ex-presidents to seek and speak the truth as Jimmy Carter is doing.

    April 18, 2008 at 5:25 pm |
  228. George

    Honestly, I am worried. What is happening in the Middle East is not only an American business. Jimmy Carter has said that he is going to endorse Barack Obama and Obama is unawarely(?) spreading anti-Semitism among young Americans and his alleged (Syrian) friend emphasizes my fear.

    April 18, 2008 at 5:26 pm |
  229. J. Jennings

    I think Carter is showing incredable intergrity and bravery. He is doing this to try and bring peace to Isreal and Palestine. Duh!!! How long are we going to put up with this Orwellian doublethink that peace negotiations don't involve the people you're actually fighting. We label our adversaries terrorist, say we don't negotiate with terrorist, and suprise suprise, nothing gets done. We should take note of the Northern Irish peace proccess which is sloppy and on going but involves all parties concerned. They said that one was impposible too.

    April 18, 2008 at 5:26 pm |
  230. Judith, Cape Cod, Mass

    Jimmy Carter is a member of "The Elders". As such what he's doing is appropriate. The people in this group have gone beyond appeasing a constituency. If they don't do these tasks, who will? I for one appreciate their efforts.

    As for Bill Clinton becoming an Elder, well...he's got to grow up first.

    April 18, 2008 at 5:27 pm |
  231. Judith Lenn Soignet

    We had better start talking to anybody that will let us. Acting like a spoiled, petulant child gets us nowhere. If Carter, Clinton or any other ex-pres feels still sufficiently involved to interact with countries, friend or foe, in an effort to open up dialogue throughout the world, let them. Nobody in the other countries will believe that they are speaking as anything other than an ex president and will take their opinions as such. Of course, they will be criticized by our citizens, but, then, when aren't they ? We need to interact with any and everybody who will allow an exchange of ideas and, if we don't start soon, we might not be around to talk at all.

    April 18, 2008 at 5:27 pm |
  232. Dick in IL

    Ex-presidents should be able to do any damn thing they want to say or do. That's called personal freedom! It is only restricted by what is legal behavior.

    If Obama can support a racist bigot who screams "God Damn America" to his church members without criticism, anything goes.

    What is worse is that people critical of what Rev. Wright spews out are criticized for pointing out Obama's very unAmerican attitude.

    April 18, 2008 at 6:46 pm |