Friday, January 06, 2023

The Outlier: The Unfinished Presidency of Jimmy Carter

My book for December was The Outlier: The Unfinished Presidency of Jimmy Carter by Kai Bird. My brother-in-law Tom gave me the book for Christmas in 2021. It fits into my long term project to read books about all of the presidents.

The book focuses on Carter's Presidency, but provides an overview of his early and post-presidential lives. He attended the Naval Academy and served on submarines from 1948 to 1953. After his father's death in 1953, Carter returned home and assumed control of his family's peanut-growing business. He served as a Georgia state senator from 1963 to 1967 and Georgia governor from 1971 to 1975.

Carter was President from 1976 to 1980. The Presidency was marked by the stagflation, the energy crisis, the Camp David Accords, Airline Deregulation, Iranian Revolution, Iran hostage crisis, the Three Mile Island nuclear accident, the Nicaraguan Revolution, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. the Soviet grain embargo and a 1980 Summer Olympics boycott.

The book doesn't paint a very flattering picture of Carter. He didn't want to compromise or negotiate as President, i.e. play politics. As portrayed in the book, Carter and his Georgia boys didn't want to socialize with the Georgetown elite... Although the book is critical of Carter's Presidency, it looks back on his accomplishments positively. At some point, I need to read a second book on Carter.

Three footnotes. In November of 1980, I was already working for Farm Credit. I can remember hearing that they had declared Reagan the winner of the election before I went to vote.

Straight out of college, I worked for the California Farm Bureau Federation. Sometime between November of 1979 and April of 1980, Carter had accepted an invitation to speak at a large meeting my division was holding in Fresno. When the hostage crisis occurred, Carter didn't campaign and stayed in the Rose Garden. Roslyn Carter came to the meeting and spoke instead. At one time, I had a picture of a group of us with Roslyn Carter. [Note to self], I need to figure out when this meeting was and look through my old photos to see if i have this picture.

Finally, Pamela Churchill shows up in the story. She was featured in Capote's Women and The Spendid and the Vile. At this time, she is married to W. Averell Harriman who was part of the Georgetown establishment...

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