Jimmy Carter Will Be Eaten by a Swamp Rabbit
by Joseph Suglia
On 20 August 1979, the thirty-ninth President of the United States, Jimmy Carter, was fishing in the glorious Savannah River, the jewel of Georgia’s coastal plain. Carter squatted on the rotting bark of the fishing boat’s bench, beguiling the glistening fish from the water with the promise of oatmeal and rye.
Sweat dropped from the President’s forehead into the bubbling ooze. Dragonflies soared across the river. A water snake slid through the whispering reeds. The white fence beside the river was overgrown with rasping weeds. Wavelets lassoed the rocks that surfaced through the milky lacquer.
Carter cast his bait into the river, enticing the carp.
While casting his bait into the river, Carter saw a swamp rabbit swimming feverishly toward the boat, hissing and gnashing its teeth as it swam. The swamp rabbit was paddling furiously with its splayed feet, its nostrils flaring.
The President warded off the swamp rabbit with a paddle, drumming it upon the head until the seething bloody rabbit sank into the murky deeps.
That night, Secretary of State Jody Powell and journalist Brooks Jackson were playing Dirty Boy Bingo in Cockpit, Atlanta’s premier corporate-punk bar. Powell and Jackson laughed about the story over cocktails. Minutes later, Jackson was on the telephone, leaking the story to the Associated Press. The tale of President Carter and the Swamp Rabbit was released during a slow news cycle. The Carter Administration could do nothing to stop its global dissemination.
The Swamp Rabbit Story became the defining scandal of the Carterian presidency. It was a signifier of the President’s weakness and ineffectiveness as a leader. It prefigured his landslide loss to Ronald Reagan in the forty-ninth quadrennial presidential election, which took place on Tuesday, 4 November 1980.
While settling into the White House, the Reagan staff discovered a photograph of Jimmy Carter being attacked by the vicious swamp rabbit [see below] and delivered the photograph to the public.
For years, the swamp rabbit has been swimming around in the aquarium of President Carter’s mind. He has been unable to forget the crazed lagomorph.
It is only a matter of time before Jimmy Carter meets the unscrawny swamp rabbit that he confronted thirty-six years ago.
Tonight is the night that President Jimmy Carter will be devoured by the swamp rabbit.
The swamp rabbit will gnaw Carter’s yellow bones. The swamp rabbit will crack open Carter’s yellow bones with its daemon teeth. The swamp rabbit will suck the marrow from Carter’s yellow bones.
The lagonageur will crawl into President Carter’s hospital room.
The lagonageur will crawl beneath the hospital bed sheets.
The President is shifting his soft legs beneath the hospital bed sheets.
President Carter sees the lagotic shape of the phantom swamp rabbit.
The swamp rabbit smiles a gruesome smile.
The President’s face is unscreaming.
With a galvanic lunge, the swamp rabbit heaves on to President Carter, fastening its toothed jaws around his neck, its mouth enveloping his entire head, its jaws seizing the presidential head, sucking him into the filthy, stinking deeps of its gullet.
All that remains is a urine-stained gown floating on the hospital bed.