Carter on Obama's Qualifications: He Gives a Great Speech

It seems that Hillary Clinton isn’t the only prominent Democrat who can’t bring herself to say that Barack Obama is qualified to be president. Jimmy Carter was interviewed on CNN’s American Morning today:

ROBERTS: Let me remind you of something you said. It was back in November of 2006 on the “Charlie Rose” program.


CARTER: He’s got yet to prove substance or experience to be the president.


ROBERTS: What changed since then for you?

CARTER: Well, at that time, as you well know, I never had met Obama. The only time I ever saw him was when he made the convention speech in 2004. I knew he did a superb job then. And I was really then hoping that Sam Nunn would run or Joe Biden would run and they would have been my choices. So that was a normal thing to say, you know, two years before he ever announced that he was going to be candidate.

First off, let’s note that Senator Obama announced his candidacy only about two months after the Charlie Rose interview — not two years. Perhaps Carter has a hard time remembering just how green Senator Obama is.

But note that when Carter is given the chance to retract his earlier statements about Obama’s lack of experience, it doesn’t occur to him to do so. Much like Hillary in her convention speech, he has a lot to say about Obama — but he never thinks to vouch for Obama’s credentials. Instead, he talks about the Democrats he knows who are excited about Obama, about Obama’s 2004 keynote address, and about how he’s a good Democrat.

Carter didn’t talk about Obama’s qualifications on Hardball; nor did he do so when he ‘lavished praise’ on Obama to the Wall Street Journal.

When Carter talks about what he seeks in a president, he mentions two highly-experienced Senators, both of whom are among the most hawkish in his party. You can’t help but think that Carter learned from experience: electing a dovish young reformer who’s short on substance and long on ‘hope and change’ rhetoric is a recipe for a failed administration.