Whatever happened to former President Jimmy Carter?

Long hailed as "the best ex-President we've ever had," a hard-working humanitarian, a globe-trotting observer of Third World elections, a Southern Baptist volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, a mediator of international conflicts, and an idealistic campaigner for the abolition of dangerous tropical diseases, Carter has become the subject of widespread vilification in the U.S.

It's all because of his latest book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. The book has offended many Jews and evangelicals because it appears to be a one-sided denunciation of Israel.

When Carter ran for President in 1976, he electrified the nation by declaring that one of his qualifications was being a "born-again Christian." Evangelicals supported him at the ballot box that year.

Carter's candidacy was made doubly appealing by a warmly sympathetic campaign book about him called The Miracle of Jimmy Carter by the late Bob Slosser.

Even so, the Carter presidency was disappointing to many. He seemed unable to cope with the crisis of American hostages held captive in Iran, the oil crisis of 1979, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The one lasting achievement of his presidency, a peace accord brokered between Israel and Egypt in 1979, was not enough to prevent evangelical voters from leaving him and voting overwhelmingly for Ronald Reagan in 1980.

Once out of office, Carter founded the Carter Center in Atlanta in 1982, championing all kinds of worthy causes, such as ceasefires with rebel groups and the elimination of diseases like malaria and guinea-worm. He became the third U.S. President or former President (the others being Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson) to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

Perhaps emboldened ...

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Global Prognosis
David Aikman is professor of history and writer-in-residence at Patrick Henry College and wrote for Time magazine from 1971 to 1994. Among his books are Jesus in Beijing and A Man of Faith: The Spiritual Journey of George W. Bush. His column, "Global Prognosis," ran from 2006 to 2007.
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