Jimmy Carter thinks Donald Trump would be worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize if the North Korean negotiations work out.
He says this, even though he believes Trump has already dealt “a damaging blow to peace” in the Middle East by moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and has failed to deliver moral leadership in a way that has increased discrimination and diminished human rights, both at home and around the world.
The former president, who has spent the 37 years since he left office promoting humanitarian causes and monitoring free elections around the world, worries about what’s ahead.
“There’s a general feeling, on a global basis, that democracy has reached its peak and is declining,” Carter told me in an interview for the latest episode of POLITICO’s Off Message podcast, when asked about those who see Trump’s presidency as a challenge to democratic ideals. “I hope that that trend will reverse.”
Carter said he’d let others judge whether the current occupant of the Oval Office is a moral leader. But he left no doubt about where he thinks Trump is falling short.
“I think the president ought to tell the truth. I think the president ought to be for peace. I think the president ought to treat everybody equally. So, equality and peace and the truth, and I’d say basic justice are some of the moral values that I think every person should have,” Carter said.
When a president fails to embody the ideals of a moral leader, Carter said, “it makes us much more likely to treat people differently, and to discriminate against either African-Americans or others who are different. … I think it’s probably more difficult to elevate human rights to a top priority, and things like peace and justice.”
Sharper and in better physical shape than most people at 93 especially most people who’ve been through a brain tumor in the past two years Carter says he doesn’t want to take on Trump.
But that doesn’t mean he won’t.
“We told the truth, we obeyed the law and we kept the peace,” Vice President Walter Mondale famously said of the Carter administration. On that scorecard, Carter said the current administration’s performance is, “Well, so far we’ve remained at peace.”
“I’m not here to criticize, but I think that, you know, telling the truth is one of the basic moral values that’s important,” Carter said. “And obeying the law is an oath that all of us take before we assume public office.”