Serving as an unsuspecting stalking horse, former President Carter blew out of the gate this evening, establishing a blistering pace for the favorite, Bill Clinton, in the first race of the Boston DNC Speechstakes.
Firmly in command from the outset, the 39th President used the whip early and often (“We cannot lead if our leaders mislead”) to rail against an administration that had turned up worse than lame. Citing unprecedented unilateralist tendencies; deference to the “super rich”; failure to “show up for duty”; and misunderstanding and neglect for the Arab-Israeli conflict, Carter looked stronger than ever, suggesting the race this year was for nothing less than the nation’s soul.
Catching up to Carter, the 42nd President exuded less heat than speed, demonstrating a more relaxed style that suggested he was basically riding for Kerry. As he pulled away (Clinton seemed to have a specific pace in mind–one that would deprive broadcast commentators of even one last word), the former champion reminded the crowd of the great talent and tradition of the Democratic stable, one in which “strength and wisdom are not opposing values.”