In response to the news of a nuclear attack submarine being named after former US president Jimmy Carter, I called him to find out how he felt about it:
RK: Hi, Jimmy.
JC: Hey! Robbie! How are you?
RK: Good. You?
JC: It's a beautiful day today. I'm in, uh, Costa Rica right now. It's so lovely. Hey! Did you know that we share the same birthday?
RK: Yeah, I did. But your birthday is public knowledge, mine sure isn't. How did you find out?
JC: I'm a former president of the United States of America; birth dates really aren't something difficult for me to get.
JC: So what's up? How's Beth?
RK: She's good. Uh, you know, she ...
JC: Is she still doing the childcare business?
RK: Yeah. Wait, you mean child advocacy?
RK: Yeah. Yeah. She's there, but the job is hard right now.
JC: What do you mean?
(Rob explains why Beth's job is hard.)
JC: That's a very well thought out explanation, Robbie.
RK: Well, thank you!
JC: Well, um, I have some news, too.
RK: What's that?
JC: The Department of Defense is naming a nuclear attack submarine after me.
RK: A nuclear sub.
JC: Yeah. Crazy, huh?
RK: A sub?
RK: It just seems ...
RK: Sorry, I don't mean to be ...
JC: Don't be like that. I'm trying ...
RK: Yeah, I'm...
JC: ... trying to have a nice conversation here; please don't ruin it.
RK: You speak with semicolons?
JC: Don't digress. All of a sudden you don't approve?
RK: I guess I don't understand.
JC: What's to understand? I'm a former US president. Commander-in-chief and what-what. And stop making me say 'what-what.' This isn't Mary Poppins.
RK: But you're a pacifist.
JC: Pacifist, yes, but we still need a defense.
RK: Doesn't it seem odd to you that a Nobel Peace Prize winner would have a nuclear attack submarine named after him?
JC: Well, that's it, isn't it? Nobel Peace Prize. Did you happen to hear my acceptance speech?
RK: No, I didn't.
JC: Here's what I said, (pause) Here it is: '... my first chosen career was in the military, as a submarine officer. My shipmates and I realized that we had to be ready to fight if combat was forced upon us, and we were prepared to give our lives to defend our nation and its principles. At the same time, we always prayed fervently that our readiness would ensure that there would be no war.' So what is interesting to me is not the creation of strength, that's just going to happen, but rather, the growth of great wisdom to effectively control that strength.
RK: Right. I should read that.
JC: I think you might find it rather interesting.
RK: Yeah. I'm still not convinced. It still seems like your name on a nuclear attack submarine is an implicit acceptance of war.
JC: I should remind you that I'm also a trained nuclear physicist.
JC: Yuh-huh! Remember Three-Mile Island? When the nuclear energy plant melted down, my, uh, my first priority was to prevent panic and calm the American public. So, I read the hard data about the environment inside the plant, and fortunately it was safe. So to convince the American public that it was safe, I arranged a television broadcast from within the plant, and brought Rosilyn with me. I wouldn't have been able to do that if I didn't know in my head and believe in my heart that the plant was safe.
RK: You're fascinating.
JC: Oh, man. The TV reporters and cameramen set up their equipment and got as far away from me as possible though, I can tell you that. Ha!
RK: Heh heh.
JC: But, Robbie, here's what I like most about all of this. Any time someone hears about the USS Jimmy Carter, what will they think? They'll hear 'Jimmy Carter'. I don't mean to be iconic, but that name does stand for something which people might consider when they hear it.
RK: Like the proper use of a nuclear attack sub.
JC: Like the proper use of a sub specifically, but of their strength in general. That's what I hope it represents: a symbol of tempered strength.
RK: Like you, Jimmy. You're wise and strong.
JC: I wouldn't say that, but your premise is good.
JC: You see the new trailer for the Hitchhiker's movie?
RK: Yeah. It looks good.
JC: So good!
RK: Are we going to see it?
JC: Sorry, now it's 'maybe'. Nigeria is still suffering a lymphatic filariasis outbreak and I'm probably going to have to travel at that time to help expand their program.
RK: But we could maybe get a screening, right? We're buds, Jimmy. Right?
JC: Right, Robbie. We're buds.
RK: OK, love to Roz and everyone. Thanks for the explanation.
JC: Yeah, nice to talk with you. See you in April.
RK: OK. Yeah. Bye.