Friday, September 21, 2012

President Jimmy Carter

I have always had a soft spot for the peanut farmer from Georgia.  I find his gentle southern drawl soothing and his steady way reassuring.  I also associate him with one of my earliest, most vivid memories.

I was sitting in art class with my friend Lisa.  We were both born in January so we would have been 7 in the fall of 1979.  Lisa asked, "Who do you want to be President? Jimmy Carter or Ronald Reagan."  Before I had a chance to answer (typical Republican) she blurted, "I think Ronald Reagan should be President - he's rich and he's from Hollywood so he knows a lot of famous people."  Even at seven this seemed odd to me.  "Well," I said - almost afraid to disagree with my friend - after all it could very well have been my first experience with having a real opinion, "I think Jimmy Carter should be our President.  He has a little girl so I know he would never want to start a war."

And there you have it. The reason, if I am going to be honest, that I perhaps still vote for anyone.  Not that they never would - but that, at their core, they do not desire conflict.

Much like President Clinton, President Carter has had an exemplary post-White House life.  He and Rosalyn have been involved with Habitat for Humanity since 1984.  The Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter Work Project is one of the most high profile aspects of the organization - its focal point is an annual build blitz - one week of this blitz frequently results in the completion over 100 homes - from the Gulf Coast to the Mekong to West Philadelphia.

Many years ago, the Work Project brought President Carter to a home on Stiles Street where my mother grew up.  My mother's cousin stood with President Carter in the basement of her childhood home and told him stories of how my Great-Grandfather used the basement for wine making.

I have always hated the way people have spoken about President Carter.  You can say what you will about the Carter Administration, the Carter years.  They were what they were and, no, perhaps they were not very good.  But when the criticisms of the administration turn to insults and treat Jimmy Carter like a punch line that's when I get my back up.  At the most basic level - the difference between Jimmy Carter's helicopter crash and Barack Obama's Black Hawk crash?  Seal Team Six had a back up helicopter.

Romney has practically made disrespecting a living President a hobby.  Maybe not anymore.  Not only is revenge a dish best served cold but it is also best served by your grandson.  Just ask James Carter IV. People are praising him - but he simply did what any of us would have done to protect our loved ones from bullies.  Regardless, we should thank him - I thank him, and his grandfather.

Hey Mitt, like the best spokesman for truth and peace warned, Instant Karma's gonna get you.


  1. While Carter's term as President certainly had a few rough patches (some a byproduct of his soft spoken leadership style), his legislative record was exemplary. Not many presidents have been as successful getting their agenda through Congress as Carter was. But people remember the headlines of long gas lines and the aborted hostage rescue attempt.

  2. Fareed Zacharia posted a list of the five best presidents yesterday. Jimmy Carter came in 2nd or 3rd (sorry can't remember which) but the point is he was listed as one of the best presidents.