Occasionally, you grow to like some people that you previously couldn’t stand.
In my world that is President Jimmy Carter.
In my much younger days I had a very ill view of President Carter. I always thought he was a do-nothing lazy man and his service to the United States was one of the darkest chapters of our nation’s history.
Many, including myself, considered Mr. Carter to be America’s worst president in modern history.
I was completely wrong about the man and his vision.
In looking back at the Carter White House, it seemed much was actually accomplished.
Jimmy Carter promised a government, “as competent, as compassionate, as good” as the American people. Every achievement he accomplished was overshadowed by an era of rising energy costs, mounting inflation and increasing world trauma.
It was impossible for him to meet Americans’ high expectations at the time in the wake of Richard Nixon’s failed presidency. The nation and the world focused closely on the presidency after Nixon.
Gerald Ford was depicted as a bumbling fool who fell down a lot and Carter assumed the role in the minds of Americans as a back country peanut farmer.
By the time he had left office, Carter added nearly 8 million jobs to the economy and decreased the budget deficit. With inflation and interest rates at record highs, the nation still entered a deep recession. The Iranian hostage crisis wore Carter to a nub and helped Ronald Regan unlock the presidency.
We were just plain wrong about Jimmy Carter.
He is a gallant statesman and always stood for what is right.
While in office, Carter dealt with the energy shortage, instituted civil service reform and demanded deregulation of the trucking and airline industries.
He expanded the national park system and created the Department of Education.
He completed negotiation of the SALT II nuclear limitation treaty with the Soviet Union, the Panama Canal Treaties and the Camp David Accords, a peace agreement between Egyptian and Israeli leaders at Camp David in 1978. Carter was the third American president to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
Carter was just 56 when he left the White House.
“Peanut farming, talk of politics and the Baptist faith were mainstays of his upbringing. Upon graduation in 1946 from the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, Carter married Rosalynn Smith. The Carters had three sons, John William (Jack), James Earl III (Chip), Donnel Jeffrey (Jeff) and a daughter, Amy Lynn,” the White House Historical Association writes.
The Washington Post dubbed Carter as “the un-celebrity president” in an August 2018 piece.
Mr. Carter still lives in his hometown of Plains, Georgia, and even walks down the street with the Secret Service in tow. He of course works very hard on Habitat for Humanity houses and even flies on commercial airlines instead of private jets.
“The 39th president of the United States lives modestly, a sharp contrast to his successors, who have left the White House to embrace power of another kind: wealth,” the Post wrote.
I salute Jimmy Carter for being the man that he is. I admire anyone who is unwilling to compromise his principles and stick to the mission at hand no matter the consequences.
I thank Mr. Carter for the peace he established on our planet. I fear this world would be a much worse place if it were not for Mr. Carter’s efforts.
If being a peanut farmer is a bad thing, perhaps I should go plant a crop of goobers.
Justice reporter Jim Headley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.