Jimmy Carter | News

Watch: Jimmy Carter Says America is Ready for a Gay President


In a new Big Think interview, former President Jimmy Carter says America is ready for a gay Commander in Chief.

Says Carter, in part:

"Step-by-step, we have realized that this issue of homosexuality has the same adverse and progressive elements as when we dealt with the race issue 50 years ago, or 40 years ago. So I would say that the country is getting acclimated to a president who might be female, who might, obviously, now, be Black, and who might be as well a gay person."


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  1. He should stick to building homes for poor people, because he's a walking irrelevancy.

    Posted by: JusticeontheRocks | Dec 15, 2010 11:44:28 AM

  2. I've read several respected histories of his presidency, and by all accounts he was a very cold, smug and difficult person to get along and deal with, the opposite of his public persona. This was a big part of his difficulty in getting re-elected. His own people and party disliked him, and it was on a personal level, not just politics.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Dec 15, 2010 11:52:11 AM

  3. Does it seem like the IQ level of this site's commentariat has plummeted over the last 2 months?

    Smug and cold are 2 words I've never heard used to describe Jimmy Carter, one of the most decent and humble people I've ever met.

    Posted by: crispy | Dec 15, 2010 11:59:11 AM

  4. A former president (a democrat) says he thinks US is ready for a gay president and people here are putting his view down. I don't get it.
    This is great and hopefully will happen one day soon.

    Posted by: Matt26 | Dec 15, 2010 12:04:45 PM

  5. A second gay president, or third depending on which histories you read and how much credence you pay to them.

    Posted by: Diogenes | Dec 15, 2010 12:34:19 PM

  6. Is he senile? Gays cant serve in the military, get married, or be protected from losing their jobs/homes in more than half the country--and yet the country is ready for a gay president? I mean, I wish were were but its idiotic to say we're anywhere near there.

    Posted by: dizzy spins | Dec 15, 2010 12:48:18 PM

  7. Add me to the list who can't believe people are critical of Carter on a personal level.

    His problems with reelection had everything to do with the economy (as always), the Iran hostage situation (poorly handled), and Reagan being a great actor who screwed the economy even worse.

    The late 1970s sucked for the US, just as the 2000s have. Presidents are often victims of issues beyond their control.

    All that said, "might as well be a gay person" is not the most promising comment, and I seriously doubt it will happen for decades. As is often noted, most of our gay "leaders" stink. And digging up dirt on even the most vanilla gay dude would eliminate his chances. A lesbian is even less likely.

    Posted by: Paul R | Dec 15, 2010 12:56:09 PM

  8. Paul,
    He didn't say "might as well b a gay person".
    He said "might be, as well....a gay person".
    Listen again.
    He was merely listing it as one of the alternatives.

    Posted by: Arjun | Dec 15, 2010 1:03:06 PM

  9. I appreciate former President Carter's comments.

    Posted by: Mel Smith | Dec 15, 2010 1:06:04 PM

  10. I have met the Carter, and he is certainly not "smug" or "cold."

    As noted above, his failure to be re-elected was primarily a result of factors out of his control -- the horrible late-70s economy, the Iran hostage crisis, as well as a primary challenge from within his own party that weakened him in the general election.

    It's easy to forget that when elected, Carter was a little-known, former governor -- he was not only a Washington outsider, but also an outsider even within the national Democratic Party. The "establishment" Democrats of the day were very wary of him, and more than a bit resentful that someone outside of their circles had managed to win the election. The Carter administration and the DC Democrats never really warmed up to each other, and it cost him in the end.

    Posted by: D.B. | Dec 15, 2010 1:21:39 PM

  11. @dizzy spins:

    The reason gays can't serve in the military is because of a bunch of old men in the Senate who are out of step with the about 70% of the general public on this issue. Most Americans believe that if someone is able to do their job, they should not be prevented from doing it, regardless of their sexual orientation - and the Presidency is, in the end, a JOB. Marriage is a trickier and more emotional issue to many people today, but even there the tide is swinging in our direction.

    Polling consistently indicates, and has for some time, that a majority of Americans
    would be willing to support an openly gay candidate for President. The snag will be in finding a viable candidate. None are apparent now.

    As for Jimmy Carter: wonderful human being, mediocre President who meant well, but was a poor dealmaker. I urge everyone to read the so-called Malaise Speech: President Carter spoke truth to the American people - even if it wasn't what they wanted to hear.

    Was James Buchanan gay? Probably, but do we want to admit it? He was a terrible President!

    Posted by: Hank | Dec 15, 2010 1:22:05 PM

  12. What I previously posted regarding Jimmy Carter's personality and management style is no secret or fantasy. He was described by almost everyone who worked for and with him while he was president as cold, unfriendly, smug, and a micro-manager. I do not object to his pro-gay comments, obviously.

    Yeah, the intellectual curiosity, honesty and emotive quotient of many posters leaves a lot to be desired. But props for hackneyed cliches, stereotypes and party politics.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Dec 15, 2010 1:27:46 PM

  13. His sentiments are nice, but realistically the country is not ready to elect a gay man unless he outed himself during his first term. There are no openly gay governors or senators. We haven't had but one non-protestant president, not even a Jewish VP! Presidencies trail public moods by several decades. Also, majority voting stifles the electability of minorities.

    Posted by: anon | Dec 15, 2010 1:56:22 PM

  14. @RATBASTARD: Maybe its time to cite your source(s) of this information. That generally helps to clear things like this up.

    Posted by: RyanInSacto | Dec 15, 2010 1:59:06 PM

  15. Part (but only part) of the problem people have with you, Ratbastard, is that you throw around accusations like this without citing a shred of evidence to back them up. Did people who worked with the former President describe him as cold, unfriendly and smug? Perhaps; I have no idea. I find it very difficult to believe, though, that "almost everyone who worked for and with him while he was president" described him in that way, particularly so when all you've offered is a string of accusations without citing any evidence.

    Posted by: Patric | Dec 15, 2010 2:15:21 PM

  16. I like Jimmy Carter but...uhm, no!

    I think that some states are ready for an openly gay governor.

    I think that France or even Great Britain will do the openly gay Prime Minister thing in less than 20 yes.

    But the US ready for an openly gay President?

    Uhm, no. I don't think that I'll see that in my lifetime.

    Posted by: Chitown Kev | Dec 15, 2010 3:27:52 PM

  17. LOL good one jimmy. nice thought though.

    Posted by: Rob | Dec 15, 2010 4:30:57 PM

  18. I think Jimmy ready my book, Condor One!

    Posted by: John | Dec 15, 2010 7:03:11 PM

  19. I have heard accusations that he was a micromanager. But none of Ratbastard's other comments are supported by people I know who worked with or for Carter---and that includes Republican relatives.

    Ineffective is just as damning and seems more accurate. Just like today's Democrats. And yes, I'm a Dem, through and through.

    Posted by: Paul R | Dec 15, 2010 7:58:55 PM

  20. Folks, lets keep our eyes on the prize. We can never stop our progression toward a more perfect union.

    Posted by: Scott | Dec 15, 2010 9:56:28 PM

  21. I love Carter. I hate smug gay republicans on this site. The End :)

    Posted by: IndyTown | Dec 15, 2010 11:04:33 PM

  22. 1. it's encouraging to hear
    2. at the same time, it points out how absurd it is that he can say that while we remain 2nd class citizens (DOMA, DADT, etc).
    3. was just wondering 2day, before i saw this, if Jimmy (whom I admire) has made any changes since earlier statments about believing that marriage is between a man/woman.
    4. that's my gripe w/ Jimmy C: his non-support (yet) of gays' right to marriage.
    5. my pleasant surprise of the day: finding out Ronald Reagan, of all people, spoke up against legislation in CA to fire gay teachers. He turned the tide and saved the day there. (according to Moyers' interview w/ Boies & Olson- i recommend the podcast)

    Posted by: hillsideslide | Dec 15, 2010 11:15:52 PM

  23. To late we already had one from 1977 to 1981! Or did he say an "openly GAY president"? And I would stand behind a gay president because I sure would not want to stand in front of him.

    Posted by: elmo smidlap | Dec 16, 2010 12:11:10 AM

  24. @Arjun, thank you for correcting me.

    Posted by: Paul R | Dec 16, 2010 12:54:00 AM

  25. If you don't understand the importance of liberals like President Carter saying this, you don't much understand our political system. Sure, the idea that the US is ready for a gay president is ahead of its time. But there's a million people saying no. Why criticize President Carter for saying yes?

    Posted by: Chris | Dec 16, 2010 1:19:58 AM

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