By Jessica Harrison, Deseret News
America is no better off now than it was in the late 1970s and early 1980s, says former President Jimmy Carter. From national politics to relationships with other nations, there is a lot of room for improvement.
"We had almost complete harmony with every nation on Earth," the Nobel Peace Prize winner said of his administration. "We not only preserved peace for our country, we never went to war. We never dropped a bomb. We never fired a missile."
Carter, who will be at the King's English Bookshop in Salt Lake City Thursday morning, spoke with the Deseret News about how things have changed since his presidency, how things have remained the same and what life was like in the White House, during a round of press interviews for his new book, "White House Diary."
Many of the issues that were pertinent during Carter's administration still face American leaders, he said. Some 30 or 40 of those items, including Middle East peace, relations with China and with Iran, and the search for clean, cheap energy, remain high profile.
While the above issues may be similar, today's American political scene is vastly different. Carter says he had wonderful bipartisan cooperation, with Democrats and Republicans in both the House and the Senate supporting him.
That doesn't exist now.
The political environment has become polarized in individual states and among voters, Carter says, caused primarily "by the massive and unprecedented infusion of millions of dollars into the campaign coffers of candidates, which are used mostly just for negative advertising to destroy the reputation or character of your opponents."
The amount of work a president faces is undeniably daunting. And like anyone else who deals with a major corporation, or has a major responsibility in a law firm or in the military, Carter says it was impossible to keep absolutely everything straight. Nobody can.
That's where a good staff and strong Cabinet members come into play. "The president has a lot of help," Carter said. "And I would say, in general, maybe not exactly now when there's such a negative attitude, but in general, the American people wanted me as president to be successful. Because when I was successful in dealing with jobs and when I was dealing with international affairs and peace and human rights and energy and that sort of thing, then America (was successful)."
Everyone experiences ups and downs, and America's 39th president says he's no different.
Click to view image: 'Jimma Carter(dumb-ass)'
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