Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Jimmy Carter’s Unheralded Legacy

By STUART E. EIZENSTAT, NYT, AUG. 25, 2015

WASHINGTON — AS Jimmy Carter moves into the twilight of his life, it is enormously frustrating for those of us who worked closely with him in the White House to witness his presidency caricatured as a failure, and to see how he has been marginalized, even by his fellow Democrats, since he left office in 1981.

His defining characteristic was confronting intractable problems regardless of their political cost. His closest aide and confidant, Hamilton Jordan, ruefully joked that the worst argument to make to President Carter to dissuade him from action was that it would hurt him politically.

A former one-term governor of Georgia, Mr. Carter won with a colorblind campaign, and in office he stayed faithful to his message of uplifting the poor of all races at the risk of losing his white Southern base.

Mr. Carter understood that, after Watergate, trust in government needed to be restored. He imposed gift limits and financial disclosure rules on his appointees; slowed the revolving door of officials departing to lobby their former departments; and appointed inspectors general to root out fraud and mismanagement.

(More here.)

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