Faced with mounting comparisons to the failed presidency of Jimmy Carter, President Barack Obama has found an unlikely defender -- the 39th president himself. In a recent op-ed titled "A Cruel and Unusual Record," Carter accuses both Obama and his predecessor of abusing human rights by aggressively pursuing terrorists. If who your critics are says as much as who your friends are, the Obama campaign should encourage Carter to write more often.
Carter reaches a flawed conclusion from a flawed premise. He writes:
While the country has made mistakes in the past, the widespread abuse of human rights over the last decade has been a dramatic change from the past. With leadership from the United States, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in 1948 as “the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.” This was a bold and clear commitment that power would no longer serve as a cover to oppress or injure people, and it established equal rights of all people to life, liberty, security of person, equal protection of the law and freedom from torture, arbitrary detention or forced exile.
In Carter's rendering, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 did more than just declare those rights. It "established" them. So much for being endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, as Thomas Jefferson suggested 172 years earlier. Apparently the Declaration of Independence really was ahead of its time.