Left Behinds

The anti-andrewsullivan.com. Or, the Robin Hood (Maid Marian?) of bright pink Blogger blogs.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Jimmy Carter: But Can He Write?



I just discovered the blog Corsair, and I really like its mix of the frivolous and the serious, in the same obsessively linked style I prefer (plus it's written by a fellow resident of Williamsburg -- REPRAZENT). But I have to take issue with his rave about the New York Review of Books review of Jimmy Carter's new book. I was planning on writing about that review myself (he often beats me to the punch). Anyhow, Corsair says


The former President has made it his mission to bring Hamas "to the table." While that remains to be seen, Carter -- if only as an ex-President -- can be useful to his country. Gary Wills in his brilliant essay in the current New York Review of Books writes:

"In his new book, Carter addresses religion and politics together in a way that he has not done before, because he thinks that some Americans, and especially his fellow Baptists, have equated the two in a way that contradicts traditional Baptist beliefs in the autonomy of local churches, in the opposition to domination by religious leaders, and in the fellowship of love without reliance on compulsion, political or otherwise.

"... The marks of this new fundamentalism, according to Carter, are rigidity, self-righteousness, and an eagerness to use compulsion (including political compulsion)."

Whether these formulations --like his Presidency -- are fundamentally naive will ultimately be tested in the crucible of Hamas reaction to his private diplomacy. The years in the wilderness have added to Carter a dimension of dealing with fundamentalism in addition to his human-rights approach to foreign policy. We'll keep an eye on further developments.

Hm, brilliant essay? I had almost the exact opposite reaction. Wills used the review as an occasion to rant about Bush and to pontificate about the right-wing perversion of Christianity and the future of the Democrats. I'm all for spirited rants against the right wing, but maybe in an op-ed, not a book review.

I haven't read the book yet, and I was genuinely looking forward to a NYRB review, but after reading it I still have no idea whether the book is well argued, full of fresh insights, or total crap. All I know is that Gary Wills really, really doesn't like the Bush regime.

So any thoughts on if the book is actually worthwhile?

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