It's easy to get sucked into Washington politics these days, with 24-hour news networks and the instant delivery of information. But just because it's easy doesn't mean it's good for anybody. Or anybody's digestion.
While most of the country fights about what our current president has or hasn't done, we are sure about what a particular former president is doing. He's being a good man, and age isn't stopping him.
James Earl Carter Jr. recently turned 95, and while polls show most historians and political scientists tend to rank Mr. Carter as an "average" president, at best, most people seem to pay more attention to his post-presidency. And for that, he and the rest of us should feel lucky.
Jimmy Carter, with the help of some not-ready-for-prime-time actors, was elected president in 1976, but only served the one term. Even SNL couldn't save him in 1980. And now, making of mockery of the phrase "the good die young," the former governor/president/submarine officer recently celebrated another peak birthday. This makes him not only the oldest living president, but the longest-lived president, too, surpassing George H.W. Bush.
And yet, Jimmy Carter is not just sitting around. He remains active with a charity you may have heard of called Habitat for Humanity. The man was born before the Great Depression, and he's still working a power drill, still building houses, still trying to make the world a better place.
Nothing seems to stop Jimmy Carter. On Sunday, NBC News reported that he took a fall and needed some stitches. And, boy, those photos weren't good. But on Monday morning, the same network posted video of him--right back at work, again with a power drill.
The former president's enduring spirit shows what good men are capable of, even into their old age. We hear that Mr. Carter also teaches Sunday school at his Georgia church now and again. And has since memory runneth not to the contrary. If Jimmy Carter wasn't the best president this nation ever produced, he might be the best man who was ever president.
The other day, in front of an audience, he joked about his advancing age and what it might be like to be president at the sprite young age of 80. Which reminds us: Jimmy Carter always had a sense of humor, as most likeable people do, and used it to his advantage. We remember the story of Begin and Sadat squaring off at Camp David, all but circling each other:
Much to Jimmy Carter's chagrin, President Sadat, always the macho man, decided to start the first proceedings in this do-or-die matchup with a lengthy statement, in which he blared that Israel was the main problem with the Middle East, and maybe the rest of the world. He demanded and harangued, accused and lectured. Prime Minister Begin of Israel was visibily angry, and became more so with each accusation. When Sadat smuggly sat down, Jimmy Carter simple turned to Israel's prime minister and cracked: "If you'll just sign the statement as written, it'll save us all a lot of time."
After a beat, the place fell out laughing, including the two rivals. And peace would come.
These days, peace between Israel and Egypt seems a natural thing. The kids should know that it was thousands of years in the making. And Jimmy Carter was a big part of making it.
Happy birthday, and--we mean this --many more!
Editorial on 10/09/2019