The White House, caught up in another embarrassing public escapade by President Carter's brother, yesterday disassociated itself from some of Billy Carter's remarks, which Republican National Chairman Bill Brock charged were anti-Semitic.
"As far as any remarks that might be interpreted as anti-Semitic, obviously they would not reflect the president's views," White House press secretary Jody Powell said.
Powell was reacting to reports of comments by Billy Carter as he escorted a high-level delegation from Libya on a tour of Georgia.
"There's a hell of a lot more Arabians than there is Jews," Billy Carter has said several times as he hosted the Libyan delegation in the first of nine states it is scheduled to visit. Yesterday, the president's brother was quoted as saying, "The Jewish media tears up the Arab countries full time."
The Libyan government, headed by Col. Muammar Qaddafi, is strongly anti-Israel and has supported a number of international terrorist groups, including the Palestine Liberation Organization. Billy Carter visited the country last September, and while escorting the Libyan delegation around Georgia has lavished praise on Qaddafi.
Republican Chairman Brock yesterday accused Billy Carter of engaging in "disgusting anti-Semitism," and called on President Carter to issue a "clear and unequivocal" criticism of his brother's association with Libya.
"No one challenges the right of the president's brother to free speech and free association," Brock said. "Indeed, we haven't even challenged his right to use Jimmy Carter's office as a base for his own successful attempts to enrich himself in the marketplace. We cannot legally contain the disgusting anti-Semitism that laces his remarks as he takes the Billy Carter circus and the country."
But, Brock added, "At the very least the president should express his clear disapprovasl of his brother's views and his associations."
[Asked to respond to Brock's charge of anti-Semitism, Billy Carter told an impromptu news conference in Plains, Ga., last night that "Mr. Brock is trying to run for president. I think he is full of ," the Los Angeles Times reported.]
The Libyan escapade was not the first time the president's hard-drinking younger brother has embarrassed the White House. He has, for example, been criticized for marketing his own brand of beer and other attempts to exploit his relationship with the president.
In an interview in the current issue of Penthouse magazine, Billy Carter referred to Atlanta lawyer Charles Kirbo, one of the president's most trusted personal advisers, as "about the dumbest bastard I ever met." He also had unflattering remarks about Powell and chief White House political adviser Hamilton Jordan.
Through all of his highly publicized escapades, Billy Carter has carefully cultivated his image as a down-home "redneck" and representative of the "common man."
There have times when the White House has not seemed bothered by Billy Carter's notoriety. Speaking around the country, the president frequently cracks jokes about his brother and invariably draws larghter.
But yesterday, one White House official applied to Billy Carter the kind of unprintable term the president's brothre often uses.
Publicly, howerver, White House officials continued to treat Billy Carter as they always have -- as just another citizen who happens to be related to the president.
"Billy is a private citizen and doesn't make foreign policy for the United States, nor is he an adviser to the president," Powell said.
Justice Department officials said yesterday they may ask Billy Carter about his association with the Libyan group. Federal law requires that anyone who accepts momey to represent a foreign goernment in the United States register with the Justice Department as an agent of that government.
It is doubtful that any member of the White House staff cold persuade Billy Carter to alter his bublic behavior, and there is considerable question about the president's influence with his brother. Asked yesterday if the president had spoken to his brother about the Libyan episode, Powell replied, "I can say forthrightly that one of the things I don't involve myself in is who said what to whom in the president's family."