Post # 189, Bob McKnight's Florida Commentary
President Carter is 97 years old,
the longest living President ever.
In 1976, I was fortunate that no one opted to run against me for my District 116 seat in the Florida House of Representatives. With that campaign pass, I received a number of invitations to join other candidates at their campaign events. One Susan and I attended was in South Miami where the guest was the former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter who was starting to gain some traction in his race for the Democratic nomination for President. As I wrote in my book, The Golden Years...The Florida Legislature, '70's and '80's, Susan and I found the former President very bright and attentive to our questions. I was impressed, but suspicious of the huge crowd of staff travelling with the candidate and whether Carter was programmed in his presentations.
After my election to the Florida Senate in1978, I received an invitation from the White House to a briefing by President Carter on the proposed Salt II Treaty. I was very impressed, particularly with the work on the Treaty by my friend and former Florida House of Representatives Speaker and State Senator Dick Pettigrew.
That personal meeting came to memory when I recently saw an interview with recognized author Johnathan Alter on his new book about President Carter, His Very Best. Separating his achievements and failures refreshed my memory of the 39th President. And I must admit that Carter's record was far better than I remember.
Carter's Achievements (in no particular order)
Camp David Peace Accords between Egypt and Israel.
Established First Energy Policy.
Establish First Ethics Policy for Working in Administration.
High Interest Rates to Control Inflation.
Panama Canal Treaty
Improved Relations with China.
Salt II Accord
Created Department of Education.
Human Rights in All Foreign Agreements.
Carter Center Peace and Election Monitoring.
Habitat for Humanity.
Carter's Failures (in no particular order)
Failure to Free Hostages in Iran.
Soaring Interest Rates.
Soaring Gas Prices from OPEC Controls of Oil Prices.
Perceived as Weak Leader, "Malaise."
Failure to United the Party with Sen. Ted Kennedy.
Physical stature compared with President Reagan.
This analysis opened my eyes to Carter's many achievements which are really overshowed by my vivid last memories of 1979--soaring gas prices and the blind folded Americans in Iran. Some might say that President Carter's willingness to bite the bullet with high interest rates was the medicine new President Ronald Reagan needed to correct the economy. Also, Iran saw the potential benefit of humiliating Carter by returning the hostages only minutes after Reagan was sworn in as the 40th President.
It is ironic that Carter pledged that he would never lie to the American people after we just witnessed a Presidency which neither would nor could make that same pledge. Limiting the term of Presidents is one of the reasons our great country works so well.
Happy Birthday Mr. President.