"I think as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the
world, this administration has been the worst in history...The overt
reversal of America's basic values as expressed by previous administrations,
including those of George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon and
others, has been the most disturbing to me."
I found Carter to be possibly the most interesting president in my lifetime. He was someone who you inherently trusted to be trying to do good. His energy and environmental policies have proven prophetic, and looking at the problems in the world today, I wonder how much better off we would have been had he succeeded in getting them implemented. Carter tried to do what was right for the long term, so of course he failed. America always looks for the "quick fix" regardless of the long term consequences. Carter was also very bright, and understood subtlety and nuance, but he was lousy at the "in the trenches" political fight. He got beaten up badly in the media, and never rallied enough support in congress to achieve any long term impact.
In the years since leaving office, Carter's humanitarian work has been awe inspiring. He's been a major force for almost every good cause in the world, and he has a level of international respect among American ex-Presidents that only Bill Clinton can rival.
On a personal note, I got to meet Mr. Carter in the mid-'80's through his wife Rosalyn, who is a strong mental health advocate. Both struck me as warm, brilliant, and deeply caring people.
With the benefit of hindsight, I wish that Jimmy Carter had been a more successful President.
Happy Birthday, sir.