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A Jimmy Carter expert says he doubts Carter ever made the anti-Semitic remarks that Marvin Mandel attributes to the former president in “All About Abe,” a new and occasionally brutal documentary about Abe Pollin.
Allegations against Carter provide the film’s biggest bombshells. Mandel, the now-87-year-old former governor of Maryland and longtime friend of Pollin, says Carter “tried to keep me from being chairman of the National Governors’ Conference. He actually said on the telephone…‘We can’t elect a Jew the head of the National Governors’ Conference.’”
Mandel and Pollin go on to spew a lot of anti-Carter gibberish in the movie. Pollin asserts, for example, that Carter rigged the Justice Department to make sure Mandel was indicted and convicted, and downplays the extent of Mandel’s corruptness, saying he only took “[s]hirts, couple of suits, very small stuff” from political pals.
Pollin’s charges are quite disprovable: Mandel was indicted on mail fraud and racketeering charges in November 1975; Carter took office in January 1977. And the trial record indicates that Mandel took hundreds of thousands of dollars in goods, services and cash from cronies before doing their bidding.
The slime from the quote attributed to Carter by Mandel in Pollin’s doc, however, isn’t as easy to wipe off.
But Albert Nason, an archivist at the Jimmy Carter Library in Atlanta, a branch of the National Archives, says he’s suspicious of the accuracy of Mandel’s memories.
“I don’t know if Carter had anything at all to say about who would head up the Governors’ Conference,” says Nason, who has been with the library for 21 years. “But look back to that time: Here’s Carter coming in in 1976, he’s setting up the administration — the first thing he’s going to do is appoint a governor who is under indictment? This is after Watergate. He wanted to pursue a transparent image. If he were to push Mandel while Mandel was under indictment, that would be against everything he was running for.”
“I just can’t see Carter coming out with something so blatantly anti-Semitic as [‘We can’t elect a Jew…],” Nason adds. “Nothing else in his life would indicate that.”