Our Endangered Values

Our Endangered Values
by Jimmy Carter

Jimmy Carter is often referred to as America’s most successful former president. Perhaps he is; the activities and interests he pursues through the Carter Center in Atlanta with Roslyn Carter and a staff of 150 are certainly above and beyond the calling of ex-presidents. Carter works at everything from election monitoring for international organizations and house building with Habitat for Humanity to disease eradication and agricultural reform in Africa. There’s more: he fosters civic-square projects in Atlanta, teaches Sunday school at the Maranatha Baptist Church in his home town of Plains, Georgia, and regularly turns out bestselling novels, memoirs, and politically engaged volumes like Our Endangered Values. With the possible exception of Teddy Roosevelt, few men have left the presidency with Carter’s commitment to pursue the ideas and policies he supported in office.

But the compliment-America’s most successful former president-is two-edged, mockingly voiced by those who judge the Carter administration a failure domestically (think stagflation) and internationally (recall the failed rescue of American hostages in Iran). In the critics’ view, this afterlife as ex-president far exceeds his performance in office. In fact, Carter carried out some impressive about-faces from the Nixon-Ford era of covert military adventures, illegal intelligence gathering, and tolerance of overseas human-rights abuses (many of...

To read the rest of this article please login or become a subscriber.

About the Author

Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, a former editor of Commonweal, writes frequently in these pages and blogs at dotCommonweal.