Jimmy Carter Slams Attack Ads -- 32 Years After Doing Them Himself

Repeat After Us: There Was No Golden Age of Political Civility

By Published on .

Apparently former President Jimmy Carter is aghast with the aggressive campaigning by Republican Party hopefuls. In what happens to be a pretty competitive race -- it's for the freaking presidency, after all -- Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney are locked in an increasingly bitter ad war to sway voters their respective ways.

Mr. Carter has made comments condemning the mudslinging, blaming attack ads for polarizing politics. He also feels the atmosphere has changed dramatically from his day, when politics was supposedly a more gentlemanly affair.

"When I ran against Gerald Ford, who was an incumbent president, and later when Ronald Reagan ran against me, as the governor of California, we never had any dream of having negative advertisements," Mr. Carter said, according to Sofia Echo Media. "We would just refer to each other as 'my distinguished opponent,' and that 's all."

The site goes on to quote him as saying, "This massive injection of millions and millions -- hundreds of millions of dollars -- and the spending of a lot of that money on a negative campaign to destroy the reputation and character of our opponents is what has divided our country."

In making such comments, Mr. Carter doesn't seem to be aware that in the era of YouTube, it's fairly simple for us to review, even more than three decades later, the sort of campaigning going on back then. And it turns out, it wasn't always about playing nice.

Take, for instance, this Jimmy Carter ad for his re-election campaign in 1980. The ad, shot in California, interviews voters who attack Mr. Carter's opponent and the eventual victor on education and tax matters. One person accuses Mr. Reagan of having a lack of compassion for Americans, and another says, "I don't know of anything he did for this state."

Technically, maybe Mr. Carter's points about attack ads were valid because he got others to do the smack-talking and didn't employ expensive techniques for his negative campaign, instead using on-the-street -interview-style tactics.

We've said it before and we're saying it again: There was never any golden age of positivity in politics. In fact, Reason magazine in 2010 crafted political ads based on attacks made during the election of 1800. Here again is its video. Today's politicians pale in comparison:

Most Popular