John McCain directed his trademark straight talk toward a former president, flatly calling Jimmy Carter a "lousy" commander in chief.The term commander in chief only applies to the President's role as leader of America's armed forces. It only appears once in the entire U.S. Constitution where Article II, section 2, refers the President as "commander in chief of the Army and Navy." The "lousy president" comment was in response to a question about Yucca Mountain, which is under the control of the Department of Energy, not the Department of Defense.
The Arizona senator has long attempted to portray Barack Obama's policies as in the mold of Carter's, though the Republican has previously held back criticizing Carter so directly.
But in an interview with the Las Vegas Sun published Friday, McCain was decidedly more blunt than he has been in the past. McCain, who is a proponent of nuclear reprocessing, was asked why he thought Carter was against the process when he was president.
"Yes, because Carter was a lousy president," McCain quipped. "This is the same guy who kissed Brezhnev."
While it may seem that I am being picky about the use of the term commander in chief, the distinction is important. President Bush tried to use his title as commander in chief to justify illegally spying on U.S. citizens. Furthermore, many American civilians wrongly believe they owe loyalty to the President because he is commander in chief. Members of the military owe loyalty to the President. For everyone else, the President is their employee and he owes loyalty to them.
As for Jimmy Carter, he was a lousy President. That's why he didn't get re-elected. He has done great things since leaving office, however, and fully deserved his Nobel Peace Prize.