September 21st, 2010
09:11 AM ET
12 years ago

Carter declares his superiority to other presidents

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption ="Former President Jimmy Carter suggested Monday that he is superior to other former presidents."](CNN) - In the exclusive club of former presidents, not often does one declare his superiority to another. Former President Jimmy Carter appeared to do just that on Monday.

"I feel that my role as a former president is probably superior to that of other presidents," Carter told NBC's Brian Williams, citing his work on domestic and international issues that "fill vacuums in the world."

"When the United States won't deal with troubled areas, we go there and we meet their leaders who can bring an end to a conflict, or an end to human rights abuse, and so forth," Carter said. "So I feel that have an advantage over many other former presidents in being involved in daily affairs that have shaped the policies of our nation and the world."

Shortly after portions of his interview aired, the 39th president walked back his comments.

"What I meant was, for 27 years the Carter Center has provided me with superior opportunities to do good," Carter said in a statement confirmed by CNN.

Carter is far from the only former president to fill humanitarian or charitable roles after their term in office. Former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush joined together in the wake of January's devastating earthquake in Haiti to form the Bush Clinton Haiti Fund. George H.W. Bush teamed up with Clinton in 2005 after a tsunami washed ashore in south Asia killing over 200,000 people.

Carter is making the interview rounds to promote his new book written from a lengthy personal diary he kept via Dictaphone as president. He told CNN’s Larry King that his dictations produced 5,000 pages of written material.

“I think when the paperback of this book comes out, I'm going to make it available to scholars and news reporters to go to the presidential library and read the...taped original,” Carter told King Monday night on Larry King Live.

Filed under: Jimmy Carter
soundoff (162 Responses)
  1. BD70

    Poor time think carefully before opening mouth and inserting foot.

    September 21, 2010 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  2. alanjay1

    So "superior" wasn't a good word choice, but let's face it, he has been way more active for a much longer time than any other former president I can think of, whether you agree or disagree with his politics. But I'm sure there will be a crap storm of hate against him, since a lot of Americans hate everything that Jimmy Carter stands for.

    September 21, 2010 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  3. Al

    It is clear what he said in his original statement, what's the problem? Do we as a nation, not understand english anymore?

    "I feel that my role as a former president is probably superior to that of other presidents," Carter told NBC's Brian Williams, citing his work on domestic and international issues that "fill vacuums in the world."

    He's not claiming his Presidency as superior, but his work in the area of diplomacy is, naturally, factually.

    He does not ned to explain or apologize. What have we come to in this country where we have to malign everyone on a daily basis?

    God help us as a species.

    September 21, 2010 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  4. John Z

    President Carter is correct: he is superior in those areas, and, others. We all should try to live our lives as he does. He is a wonderful, caring, Christian man: an example for all.

    September 21, 2010 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  5. La Piovra

    Carter has been a rather good EX-President. As a president, he wimped out to reactionary pressure all the time. Remember what Harry Truman said? If you try to imitate a Republican, the public will vote for the real thing every time. The retrogrades, whose vote he was trying to get, found more retrogression in Reagan, while people like me peeled off and voted for John Anderson. The result has been a reign of reaction that has never really been broken. No, the man who did that was not a superior President – just a dead skunk on the yellow line.

    September 21, 2010 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  6. momof3

    I guess this one time president still feels very bitter with his LOSS long time ago... he can't get over it... one time only mr. Carter and America had enough of you why are you still around trashing others...

    September 21, 2010 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  7. runner305

    Jeez! He didn't say that HE was superior to other former presidents. He didn't even imply that. I'm glad, CNN that you clarified that in your article, but the title is STILL misleading and makes him sound conceited.

    September 21, 2010 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  8. phyllis sanders

    I agree with what, President Carter said, he has been a very good person, for this Country. He was not a good President, that is why he only had one term in office. But he has made up for that, in the following years, of being a good will ambassador. I hope he will continue on his path of good will and peace, for all Country's, and all people in this World, so all i can say is keep up the good work.

    peace out.

    September 21, 2010 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  9. Dave in Ohio

    I find his remarks very self serving and unfounded. As president, he accomplished little, if anything towards world peace. Our economy declined in his watch, the budget was busted repeatedly (maybe not as bad as Obama), and the US military was in decline, and humiliated. He was a weakling President, and it took a strong man like Reagan to pull us out of our malaise and depression.

    Since he was replaced, he has done some good, I'll admit, but only in small ways. He is incapable of effecting significant and lasting change in the world stage.

    September 21, 2010 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  10. Timothy Coyle

    Are you serious Simon? Find something else, that matters, to be upset about. And, point to another ex-President who has engaged in the same variety of causes as Carter. BTW, nice misleading headline.

    September 21, 2010 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  11. Ben in Texas

    President Carter is absolutely correct. What he said is a very honest and non-controversial assessment of his post-presidential activity. No other president has gone on to match Carter's accomplishments. The list includes Habitat for Humanity, the Carter Center, continuing efforts to bring peace to the Middle East, numerous diplomatic chores, the release of Americans from foreign prisons, and other credits.

    Reagan, on the other hand, went immediately to Japan and gave a speech, for which he took home $1M. (The Japanese were strong economic rivals at the time, making the speaking fee look like a payoff from Japan.) Bush the First did what? Clinton has been active, but has not come near what Carter has done. Bush II? He's holed up in a gated compound in Dallas, apparently ashamed to show his face, understandably.

    The right can say what it will about Carter's presidency, but there is absolutely no doubt about the vast contributions he has made since his presidency.

    September 21, 2010 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  12. Scott

    If he would have done what he should have during the hostage situation we wouldn't be in the mess that we find ourselfs in now. He is responisble for the whole oil mess. They should have never let him off his peanut farm. His brother Billy was the smart one of the family.

    September 21, 2010 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  13. Chris

    i now look forward to comments made by Jimmy Carter, it makes for great entertainment like professional wrestling or soap operas.

    On the serious side, the peanuts he grows on his farm in Plains Georgia have more intelligence, intestinal fortitude, leadership ability and common sense than he does

    September 21, 2010 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  14. Sue Ann Floyd

    Oh, this is SO UNFAIR–and such a mean-spirited attempt to interpret in such a way as to cast this good man in a light that he does not deserve. If you've half a brain, people, you'd understand that he is talking about the opportunities that he has been given, SINCE his presidency, to go abroad and continue what he is so good at doing in the area of diplomacy. Come on, people–you aren't that dense, are you? Well, maybe so–maybe the public is just so dumbed down over the years that it is impossible for people to actually interpret for themselves. I have no problems whatsoever in seeing what he was saying. The media, of course, has one agenda only–to try to put a negative spin on literally everything. The truth is, Jimmy Carter was a great President, ahead of his time, and even a greater diplomat who has made a difference since his presidency. Of course, he could be like Bush, I guess–clearing his land, making money on giving speeches to brain-dead conservatives, that kind of thing. Instead, Jimmy Carter has spent his lifetime in contributing toward the good of the whole. This was a ridiculous headline made by people with less than good intentions.

    September 21, 2010 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  15. Claire

    He is right, he has done a great deal of good, so has Clinton, and the first Bush, but considering how much more time Carter has been out of office, he has been a greater advocate for postitive change in the world.

    September 21, 2010 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  16. terry,va

    He's as goofy now as he was in office. I don't know how that weak minded, weak coward can look at himself in the mirror. Only Obummie is on pace to make him look good.

    September 21, 2010 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  17. teamoneal

    Shame on you, President Carter, for your self serving remarks. Your comments besmerch your fine record of continued service to the community. These statements make it appear that the only reason you perform service is to be recognized. That is the wrong reason, sir. I applaud ALL of our past Presidents for their continued and valuable acts on behalf of the American people and the world community. We are blessed, indeed.

    September 21, 2010 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  18. Don

    I love President Carter and he can certainly make that argument. If we would have followed his lead instead of fighting inside the Dem party at the time we could have been closer in middle east peace, had an energy policy and cleaned up a lot of ethics issues that have followed since. He is difinitely our most under appreciated president.

    September 21, 2010 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  19. charlie from the North

    Jimmy, Jimmy,Jimmy,

    I've always thought that you were much better President than you are given credit for. Your ideas about energy were revolutionary and had we followed your advice we would be in much better shape today. Your self-rightous comments though are totally out of place with your humble character.

    When people of a certain age say things that out of character, like the Hellen Thomas tirade, I wonder if there is a medical problem. Similarly if Rush Limbaugh were to start being nice and making sense I would suggest he get checked out as well.

    September 21, 2010 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  20. Special K

    You have got to be kidding me! This guy and Obama will be fighting each other for the title of WORST PRESIDENT EVER!!!, and he thinks he is "superior". The man is totally delusional and off his rocker.

    September 21, 2010 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  21. jokers abound

    Since he's on record as being one of the WORST Presidents in history and no amount of PR can change that, apparently Carter is trying to convince people of his Post-President work.

    September 21, 2010 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  22. Harold

    I lived in California when Carter was in office and he did a lot of damage to our government. In talking to a (then) wife of a member of the House Armed Services Committee she said he had gutted the military, which was odd, because he is a Naval Acadamy graduate and was an officer in Rickover's submarine navy. Mortgage loan interest rates exceeded 18%, which prompted the joke that you could Master Charge your house cheaper than getting a mortgage on it. He eliminated tax breaks for tertiary oil recovery which decimated Grand Junction, CO because Exxon shut down their oil shale operations and laid off most of the residents of the town. There are many, many other problems he caused. He is one of the worst presidents we have ever had.

    September 21, 2010 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  23. Anonymous

    Waiting for the world to change.

    September 21, 2010 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  24. Douglas Gibson Jr

    I don't think President Carter needed to back away from his comments. I believe he has done more after leaving office than any other President has done after they left office for the betterment of the country and the world. We love you Jimmy.

    September 21, 2010 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  25. Paul1st

    Carter after his presidency has done more than many other recent former presidents including Truman, Eisenhower, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Reagan, GHW Bush, GW Bush and Clinton. Yes, the others did a lot of fund raising for good causes. Carter suffers from a legacy of a weak presidency coupled with foot-in-mouth disease.

    September 21, 2010 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
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