Health, Election Work Elevated Jimmy Carter Post-Presidency

29 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Behind the Lens: Photojournalist Ben Gray on covering President Carter.

According to news reports, Maranatha Baptist Church was at its full capacity, 325, with an overflow room crowd of more than 400 a full two hours before former President Jimmy Carter’s Bible lesson on Sunday. The Georgia church where Jimmy Carter teaches Sunday school lessons said it would limit visitors starting this weekend to deal with crowds hoping to see the former U.S. president who is undergoing treatment for cancer. One of my goals while there was to get to know the people in Plains and to let them get to know me so that I would be able to tell the story of the community and of Carter.

The church said that on Sunday mornings visitors would be given numbers “to ensure orderly and fair entrance into President Carter’s class.” Another hundred or so people would be permitted to watch the class on a television in the church’s Fellowship Hall. While his predecessors informally pledged to uphold human rights, President Carter declared, in Presidential Directive 30: “It shall be a major objective of U.S. foreign policy to promote the observance of human rights throughout the world.” As part of this policy, the United States condemned repression in countries like the Soviet Union and Uganda, reduced aid to governments that systematically violated human rights, and stopped importing chrome from the white supremacist government of Rhodesia. It asserted overflow crowds would be directed to the old Plains High School to hear Carter’s class through an audio feed. “While I’m not treating Jimmy Carter, I would say that at the age of 90, if he has no new cancerous lesions elsewhere, he can continue to maintain his current schedule and activities” says Dr.

Carter, a lifelong Baptist and deacon who has taught classes at the church for more than two decades, is scheduled to teach next Sunday and six other dates in September and October. I wanted to differentiate myself from other media outlets that blasted into town when the story broke, then left a trail of dust as soon a bigger story hit the airwaves.

Carter said earlier in August that he had undergone surgery to remove a tumor from his liver and that he was receiving radiation treatment after the cancer spread to his brain. “I am perfectly at ease with whatever comes,” Carter said during an August 20 press conference, noting his deep Christian faith. “Now I feel this is in the hands of God.” The full Senate never got to debate the draft treaty; after the Soviets invaded Afghanistan later that year, President Carter asked the Senate to delay consideration. Still, the terms negotiated were informally complied with beyond President Reagan’s first term and into the tenure of the Soviet Union’s last leader, Mikhail Gorbachev.

It was both militarily and symbolically significant that the SALT II framework continued to serve as a high-profile example of something Moscow and Washington could agree on — however informally — even when Cold War tensions were on the rise. The writer was executive director of the General Advisory Committee on Arms Control and Disarmament, a presidential advisory committee, from 1978 to 1980. One of the greatest impacts of his one-term presidency, however, was the setting of the stage for the election of Ronald Reagan and the imposition of the trickle-down/supply-side conservative policies that still adversely affect our economy.

I was the only media representative in the building and was able to make exclusive photos of Carter teaching and posing for photos with all those in attendance. Those of us who witnessed the president signing this epochal public land law in the East Room on Dec. 2, 1980, realized that in that moment our national park system and our National Wildlife Refuge System doubled in size, the miles of rivers protected in our Wild and Scenic Rivers System vastly increased, and our statutorily protected wilderness areas grew by 57 million acres.

As a leader in the citizen campaign working to persuade Congress to enact this law, I know just how engaged President Jimmy Carter was day to day in persuading members of Congress that this would be an achievement in which they, too, could take great personal pride. When the Carters left the school, I went back to Maranatha and joined my family in the church to wait to have a photo taken with the former president and his wife. And speaking of service, airlines could now dispense with that, since pricing was all important rather than differentiation based on the quality and comfort of a particular flight.

I had wanted to make sure that the people of Plains knew who I was and it turned out that a well-waxed mustache and a couple cameras had done the trick. Carter, despite all the good you did, and have continued doing, I long for the days of a reasonably sized seat and some knee room, a menu from which selections could be made and, yes, even fewer passengers elbowing one another at the baggage carousel. “Jimmy Carter’s Unheralded Legacy” ought to be required reading for every citizen, especially those too young to have witnessed and experienced Mr. A version of this letter appears in print on August 28, 2015, on page A22 of the New York edition with the headline: What Carter Achieved as President.

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