tv Washington Journal Jonathan Alter CSPAN December 29, 2021 1:57am-2:58am EST
january for the start of the second session of the 117th congress. the senate will take up the president's climate and social spending plan known as build back better, just bet senator manchin announcing his opposition to the bill. there's also a february 18 deadline for both chambers to pass additional federal spending ledge -- legislation to avert a government shutdown. you can watch our full coverage on c-span now are mute -- our new mobile video app. or stream video live or on-demand anytime. c-span's are on filtered view of government. >> washington journal is picking up our annual authors week series this morning. all week we will be featuring
top writers from across the political spectrum on a variety of public policy topics. we begin today with jonathan alter and his biography titled his very best, jimmy carter, a life. good morning to you, sir. compare jimmy carter to joe biden, here is one from the past week. biden's economic ratings are even worse than carter's is the headline from cnn. is it fair to use jimmy carter as shorthand or veiled or bad economic policy? >> not really. i think it's not fair to use it as shorthand for a failed presidency. as shorthand for a failed economic policy, i think it could be ok as accrued historical analogy but it's premature.
so at this point in his presidency jimmy carter was more popular than joe biden. the economy was not that bad at the end of 1970, carter's first year. carter the people remember, the simplistic memory of him, is the jimmy carter of 13% inflation and 21% interest rates. you can imagine it costing at various times the late carter presidency. 15, 18, 19, even 21% to borrow money. this comparison to joe biden, what are interest rates right now, 4%, inflation still in single digits. it's just premature to lay this
all on joe biden at this point. it's basically a political attack masquerading as economic analysis. you mentioned those approval ratings. one year or almost one year into jimmy carter's presidency, not too bad at that point in his presidency compared to joe biden, well below just over 43%. and yet, as you point out, these political attacks, they tried to tie the two men together. i want to play one example of it. it was earlier this month in ohio's senate race. one of the candidates in that race, bernie marino is his name, literally showing a clip of jimmy carter before turning to joe biden. >> my parents came here for the american dream, a dream briefly
crushed by jimmy carter. failed policies causing massive inflation. now joe biden and the socialists are rewriting the same playbook. they are spending trillions of dollars on money for illegals, tax cuts for new york liberals, and it is leading to crippling inflation. they are getting richer. you're getting poorer. i will stop biden before he destroys america. i'm bernie moreno, and i approve this message. host: you mentioned a simplistic comparison to try to do that. his joe biden running the same playbook that jimmy carter was running? guest: no, no he's not. but a couple of things about that. first of all, it is only relevant to quite old voters. i'm 64, i was in college when carter was president. this is an appeal that might work for fox news viewers in
their 70's, but younger people tend to be inspired by jimmy carter, particularly his post-presidential work as a global icon. and in terms of economic analysis, inflation wasn't caused by jimmy carter. i mean, he suffered horribly from it, as did the american people at the time. you will remember his predecessor in office, president ford, some older viewers might remember those, younger viewers read about this. the inflation which really originated in the era of the oil embargo -- arab oil embargo went through the ford and carter administration. because carter had given his
share of the federal reserve, rosen got the credit for ending inflation. the other thing i might add briefly is it suggests socialists spending by socialist jimmy carter. carter actually cut the budget in this fiscally way too conservative for many democrats, which is why ted kennedy challenged him for the nomination in 1980 and, you know, basically couldn't get a hold of inflation but it wasn't his policies that caused inflation. and actually, we found out later and economists now know that government spending which throughout the 1970's, everybody assumed this is what causes inflation. actually, not the case. we've had this tremendous amount of government spending under book, craddick and republican
administrations in the last 20 years in particular, and until we have these supply disruptions and other recent problems coming out of covid, we didn't experience that kind of inflation. the connection between government spending and inflation has been severed by experience. host: he is the author of the book "his very best: jimmy carter, a life." kicking off our annual author series. you can join the conversation this morning. jonathan alter will be with us until the top of the hour at 9:00 a.m. eastern. you talk about the appeal to the older generation, making this comparison to jimmy carter. i wonder, did bill clinton and
barack obama face these kind of comparisons to attempt to tied jimmy carter to their presidencies, their economic policies? guest: yeah, they did. i mean, jimmy carter has been for republicans what herbert hoover was for democrats 40 years after fdr be hoover in 1930 -- beat hoover in 1932. just kind of a punching bag, a way of trying to cut other democrats down. and democrats contributed to that five shunning -- by shunning carter at many democratic conventions since he was president. most democrats didn't really want to be connected to him. but carter was such an active former president that his successors all had to deal with
him. i actually deal with in my book, in some detail, with his very fraught relationships in particular with the clinton, but also with barack obama, although obama, i reviewed for the book and i also interviewed george h w bush about jimmy carter as well but barack obama said very nice things about carter, but out his 2008 convention, he didn't want carter there or in 2012. his involvement was minimal in part because of some things that carter had been saying at the time. and then carter felt kind of abandoned by obama when obama was president and a little hurt.
at one point, early on in my conversations with jimmy carter eisenhower you describe your relationship with president obama? this was when obama was still in office, 2015. and he snapped. i have none. that is kind of the way he felt about it. in obama, basically that he didn't have the bandwidth basically given everything that was going on to have a real relationship jimmy carter. but i think a lot of it was that carter was what i described as a full on secretary of state who did a number of good things, particularly 1994, when he prevented wars in both haiti and north korea. but if you are president, it is pretty hard to have this guy who
is out of office who is acting too often on his own. the conversation with george h w bush that i had was especially interesting in this regard because at first, he and jim baker had a real good relationship with former president carter because carter is doing some really good things. like, for instance, talking to ortega about leaving office in nicaragua after he lost the election which solved a huge problem for bush and baker. but then at the onset of the gulf war in 1991, carter wrote to the heads of state of the members of the security council, telling them not to go along with the united states, which, you know, bush understandably was enraged about.
and he said to me, we only have one president at a time, you really shouldn't be doing this. even democrats agree that that was not the right thing for jimmy carter to do, although bush, like obama, believe that in retrospect, carter's presidency was seriously underestimated and misunderstood. so this is a complex story about a very complex man. it doesn't lend itself to these simplistic comparisons that people make. so i'm actually, right now i'm writing a piece about the carter-biden comparison and it is kind of a long piece because the shorthand doesn't work. you have some things that they very much have in common. coming to office as healers. carter boycotted the olympics.
biden is, on a diplomatic level, boycotting the olympics but he is smart enough not to repeat carter's mistake of making the athletes stay home. we could go down the list on a number of things they have in common and the many things they do not have in common, which i'm happy to explore. host: where are you writing that piece? guest: i probably shouldn't say this. i've been in journalism long enough to be careful about this, but it was mentioned by the washington post, so it will be in the post sometime in the next couple weeks. host: i thought you might mention your newsletter to see if viewers might go there to see it as well. guest: so my newsletter is called old goats ruminating with friends. what i do is i sometimes write columns. i did write a column last summer
when my wife and i went to georgia for jimmy and rosalynn carter's 75th wedding anniversary, which was quite an event. i wrote just this past week about joe manchin. so sometimes i write about what is going on in the world and other times, most of the time, i do interviews that are in text, so they are much easier to absorb, much faster to absorb than a podcast with all kinds 60, 65, 70, who have made major contributions to this country and are wise and experienced individuals in a wide variety of different areas. some of them are, you know, former politicians like al franken, but more recently i did an actress who supports henry
winkler, actors and directors. scientists, other people who are doing really interesting things and that had interesting experiences. i am one of those people who believe that just because you get a little older doesn't mean you should be put out to pasture like some old goat. somegoats, greatest of all time in their fields and others are just use the accomplished people. host: jonathanalter.com is the website that viewers can go to. jimmy carter, plenty of callers to talk about the former president. durham, north carolina, democrat. good morning. caller: good morning.
i would like to know if you spoke with jimmy carter while you researched for his book, but my main question is did you discuss the signing of the panama canal to go back to panama and the reversal efforts by george w. bush senior targeting panama, having the target of noriega as a direction for people to look at as opposed to understanding that that was an important thing to reverse for george w. bush, and that the bombing of the people and the refugees that are still living in refugee positions and the weapons that we used on the panama people that was experimented with to go invade iraq. that legislation was a big -- for that policy or whatever jimmy carter did, a lot of
people just really didn't understand that the panama canal was something that was not u.s. interests to allow to be overturned. guest: yes, this is a great question, i'm really glad you asked it. it is one of jimmy carter's most overlooked achievements, the securing of the panama canal treaties. this was an enormously heavy loss. so, it required two thirds of the u.s. senate, and two thirds of the country was against it. in part because ronald reagan at that time, former governor of california, was going all over the country saying we tilted, we own it, we are not getting it back. to answer your first question, i talked to jimmy carter on many occasions including about this.
and when i was preparing this book. in one of the things that we discussed was the extraordinarily heavy lift involved in turning over the canal to the panamanians. the first thing to understand about it is that he prevented a major war in central america. the joint chiefs of staff believe that if we did not complete the handover of the canal to the panamanians that we would have to have a force of at least 100,000 troops in panama in perpetuity for the foreseeable future. so this is one of the things that convincing number of responsible republicans to support the treaty. so it was ratified in the senate and the canal was then and is to
this day under the control of the panamanians. so it was not reversed. i just need to correct you, there. the carter policy was not reversed. reagan came in and he could have easily abdicated the treaty the way donald trump did with the iran nuclear deal more recently. he did not do it because everybody knew it was a good idea what carter had done. then what happened is when reagan's successor came in, panama was no longer under the control of omar who had been killed in a plane crash. he got along very well with the carter administration, was actually deeply involved in this super colorful effort to try to get the hostages out a couple years after, got the iranian
hostages out. he was replaced by manwell noriega who got into this argument with the bush administration and the united states ended up invading panama in 1989, and that, i believe, is what you are referring to in your comments, and that did have some very, very negative effects anticipated some of the goodwill that jimmy carter had created not just in panama, but throughout latin america. we saw a major shift from autopsy to democracy -- autocracy to democracy, which had a lot to do with the panama canal treaties and also carter's human rights policies. it is now, in many parts of the world, we are moving back toward
autocracy, but carter's human rights policy has given his republican successors. come a very helpful for human rights throughout that region. host: from the panama canal to energy policy. go read carter's address to the nation on energy, saying that the man was a prophet. the nice thing about c-span, you can watch it for yourself. this is a two clip from that speech just a few weeks after jimmy carter became president of the united states. this is part of what he had to say in fireside address on energy policy. >> the amount of energy being wasted is greater than the total energy that we are importing from foreign countries.
it will also stunt -- emphasize research on solar energy and other renewable energy sources, and will maintain strict safeguards for necessary auto -- atomic energy production. now split among more than 50 different agencies, departments and bureaus in the federal government. later this month, i will ask congress for its help in combining many of these agencies need new energy department to bring order out of chaos. congressional leaders have already been working on this for quite a while. we must face the fact that the energy shortage is permanent. there is no way we can solve it quickly, but if we all cooperate and make modest sacrifices, if we learn to live truthfully and remember the importance of helping our neighbors, we can
find ways to adjust and to make our society more efficient and our own lives more productive. utility companies must promote conservation and not consumption. oil and natural gas companies must be honest with all of us about their reserves and profits. we will find out the difference between real shortages and artificial ones. we will ask private companies to sacrifice just as private citizens must do. all of us must learn to use less energy. simply by keeping our thermostats lower, we could save half the current shortage of natural gas. there is no way that i or anyone else in the government can solve our energy problems if you are not willing to help. i know that we can meet this energy challenge.
it is a burden that is borne fairly among all our people and in order to solve our problems we did not sacrifice the quality . -- the quality of our lives. host: jimmy carter giving that fireside address with a sweater on any white house with a thermoset has been turned down. jonathan, do you agree with the viewer on twitter who says jimmy carter was -- when it came to energy policy? guest: yes. a couple of things in that speech, which was not the malaise speech that came 2.5 years later, and that was -- actually, carter never used the word malaise. this was very early in his presidency. people later mocked the carter sweater saying he looks like mr. rogers. at the time, he was very popular and even the sweater was seen as
a kind of stroke of shrewdness. but what happened was that his energy legislation got bogged down a little bit like what is going on with biden and build back better. it ended up passing it, but in pieces so he never really got very much credit for it. he would go back to the country on several occasions to talk about energy and it was a downer, especially when a couple years later, things started to fall apart. but he was a visionary environmental and energy issues as well. that is why i would describe him as a political failure but as a substances -- substantive success. i think people know that he put solar panels on the roof of the white house which ronald reagan
then took down and they were not put back up again until obama. but they don't rise up beyond that symbolism. there was a tremendous method was done legislatively. the first federal funding, clean energy technologies, the first requirement that utilities use clean energy. believe it or not, they were under no such requirement until the carter administration when there were no incentives for doing it. in fact, they were disincentives for using clean energy until carter, like when that bill passed, he got more legislation through in four years then
either bill clinton or barack obama did in eight years. not to mention, republican presidents who had so much less legislation that was approved. and among those was these pieces of energy legislation that the president largely ignored at the time. i talked -- the press largely ignored at the time. i talked to a number of reporters who confessed to this. they were more focused on trivia. he was attacked by a rabbit. he was jogging and he stumbled. these things contain huge stories and carter, in some ways, was asked for it because he was not political enough about his own presidency and he paid a big price for it. but what ended up shrouding these major accomplishments in a variety of different areas at home and abroad.
host: this is christina, independent, good morning. caller: good morning and thank you for letting me speak you. i've seen you speak many times and in some ways i agree with you. i have several things to compare carter and president biden with. and so much of it is political because, as i see it, i'm going to be 76 and a couple days, so i've watched a lot. i was divorced. back in 1975, i got a federal nursing loan and was able to get a career to support my children because their father really didn't. and i spent an awful lot of time watching c-span, and my biggest problem is i think the american people have -- they don't think
things through. things go in one ear and out the other. the republicans are so good at nothing. we are also an instant gratification society. we want it and we want it now. and we don't realize that a lot of these things take a couple years to show up where the improvements are. host: let me focus on one part of what you talked about. jonathan, she talks about being good at marketing and how much that is a part of politics now. how much was it a part of politics in jimmy carter's presidency, and was he good at marketing? guest: he was great at marketing when he was running for president. he just seemed like such a freshfaced. he was an obscure former governor who went from 0% in the polls to the presidency.
he was just very talented at selling himself as a candidate. he understood which parts of the new south story to emphasize, which parts of the old south story to leave behind. and a lot of my book is about jimmy carter in the jim crow south. the fascinating story of him. he said he never claimed to be part of the civil rights movement. but by the time he ran for president, even though he had never met martin luther king jr. , that in his relationship with the black community was very helpful to him and a lot of other people were trying who
really understood campaigning. but when it got to the presidency, he made this separation between campaigns and governments. and when it came to governing, he really didn't believe much in marketing. when the election got closer, then he started to think more about marketing the way he had in 1976 but by that time, he was up against the great communicator, the great marketer, ronald ragan. and he just got blown out on that level and level of optics and imagery. i think carter just viewed the presidency difference he and his wife, carter is 97.
miss carter is 94. they had one of the most astonishing partnerships, and she was always the more political one the panama canal changes would be a perfect example. his predecessor did not want to touch that because he knew it was unpopular. so he would do that over and over again which is against the marketing interests we are talking about. and she was saying don't do this, it is not good for you politically. and he said if it is the right thing to do, we've got to do this. i think i am going to win, but
we need to do it now. this is part of the story of the carter presidency, his pollster was not actually in there with carter all that much. he was around the time of the so-called malaise speech, but carter was not lending his present to governing my polls. host: this is william on the for republicans. caller: good morning. i was listening to the energy issue and when one looks at the term of inflation, you have to consider the fact that gasoline is his substance that is used in every portion of our economy. it is for delivery, is for moving vehicles. it is just a critical part of our economy. jimmy carter didn't have quite
the resources that biden had, but biden turned around and undermined the fact that we wake energy-independent. to me, i just don't understand how that issue occurred and that is a direct result of an asian. moving the cost of all goods, everything that we do, and asking opec to give us more is not the right answer. president biden should go back to be energy haven independent, whatever that may take. guest: you make a couple of really good points. particularly, the 1970's. and carter was very focused on energy independence.
he wasn't just a solar guy. he deregulated natural gas, which was very controversial and very unpopular and with many other democrats, it will use fight in the late 70's. in order to move us toward energy independence. but i guess where we maybe would part ways a little bit is that even though i strongly agree that gasoline costs -- well, throughout the economy, the way to play -- fight inflation is to not think in a matter of giving the fossil fuel industry what it wants.
it is also to use the federal reserve and that is where the main tools are. this goes back to the spent share in the 60's who said that the republican fed chair said the job of the federal reserve is to take away the punch bowl just from the party is getting good. and that is what chairman powell is in the process of doing. they will attempt to control inflation next year by raising interest rates slightly. they won't have to do it in the ways of the 15, 19, 20 1% because we are not in the same trouble that we were in in the late 1970's. i think it is fair to say that biden isn't do anything to fight
inflation would not be accurate. there are some things on the energy side, other tools that were established. and most important, he is backing the decision of the fed to begin to curb inflation with its monetary policy which is the single best way to do something about inflation. they can be painful for people when interest rates go up a little bit, but we're going to find out next year whether biden's on inflation is working and i think it is really premature for anybody to see that biden is failing in his fight against inflation. host:host: just about 20 minutes left with jonathan. the beginning of our annual washington journal offers week featuring authors -- author's
week featuring authors on a variety of topics all long this week in the 8:00 a.m. eastern segment of the washington journal. his very best: jimmy carter: a life. that is the topic. caller: good morning. i've always been an admirer of your commentary. i appreciate the fact that you have written a book about jimmy carter, warts and all. he is a man i've always admired, especially his work with habitat for humanity. i think he personifies the best of what ex-presidents are able to do instead of enriching himself with his ex-presidency, he went on to do brighter and greater things. when my son went to auburn
university in alabama, he met president carter at one of his -- and his church, and went to one of the services. in my son was so greatly influenced by the graciousness of this man that it made my son want to be more involved in politics, to actually help people who really do need the help. i came in late into the conversation. could you speak to me about this recent story they came out about president carter, i believe he was in the navy and he actually helped to defuse a nuclear reactor of some kind in canada? guest: i'm glad you brought that up because my book is the most complete account of the incident, as it was called. if you really want to know what happened in making 52 at the
experimental nuclear reactor in ontario, you really do need to get my book. am sorry to put it that way. so at the time, jimmy carter was a top aide to the father of the nuclear navy in one of the most fascinating individuals in all of american history. carter called him the greatest engineer who ever lived. the most important project of the middle part of the 20th century establishing nuclear power submarine and deliver aircraft carriers which colin powell and others have said was the single most development to winning the cold war. you responded to a call from canadian authorities.
it was all hands on deck, meaning all highly-classified, all people like carter with highly classified programming new something about it. remember, this was at the very beginning of the nuclear age, not long after the atomic bombs had been dropped at the very beginning of the average to develop peaceful nuclear power. we were a long way from nuclear power plants, in the experimental phase. there was radioactive water all over the facility. carter reached a team of 2000. they get on a train, they go there. he can't even tell his wife where he's going. the authorities understood that you couldn't go into this wreck
for more than 90 seconds without probably being killed by the radioactivity. so they couldn't just have the unseen experts. they needed to have other people. and then mocked up on a tennis court a mockup of the reactor so that whenever a team would go in for the 90 seconds, they would know which bolts to change and valves to turn in order to gain control of this meltdown. so, carter supervised eight teams of three. and when he had his moment, he got out in 89 seconds. but it was really like going into combat. remember, at that time, the estimates of how much
radioactivity they would be exposed to was way wrong. they actually had much more exposure than they thought, and i think afterwards, everybody expected that they would not be able to have children. carter at the time had three sons. 15 years later, they had --. it turned out that he could survive this better than they thought at the time. it was a courageous thing for him to do. it means and not skeptical of nuclear power, but in the skeptical of the people who were engaged in fear mongering about nuclear power. so when they have the incident at three mile island when he was president, which he got very involved in, he kept his head, as he did, on most things and
responded appropriately. the contrast between the response of the authorities and the way he responded to the covid crisis in early 2020 was really start. and coming out of three mile island and those other attention to detail was the creation of the federal emergency management agency, fema, which along with the department of energy and the department of education were established in the prior administration. then, of course, he was the first president to diversify the federal government and the judiciary even though he had no supreme court nomination. they pointed five times as many women to the federal bench as all of his predecessors combined including ruth bader ginsburg. this is a complicated story
about a very complicated, sometimes cold man. sometimes difficult man who nonetheless embodied a sense of decency and commitment which we son not just to his post- presidency. it is not as simple as that. many things he did write despite the political failures. and as you mentioned, going back in time to the years when he was young, just fascinating full of all kinds of things. not just the nuclear meltdown, but all kinds of other things he was dealing with over the course of a great american story where
he starts out as a barefoot boy coming up in the jim crow south. goes off to the naval academy, get this training, has this astonishing experience, and when his father dies he goes home, back to the jim crow south not long after that incident that you mentioned, and the sheriff is using cal prods on 13 euro black girls and carter is caught in between. he knows segregation is wrong. he has stood up against it when he was in the navy. but when he was in the grip of what is going on in the south, it takes him a while. that story of what happens to him before he is president was, for me, at least as interesting as what happened when he was president or after he was president.
habitat for humanity was just the beginning of the kinds of things he did to improve human lives. host: one headline about it from the militaries or website. that time that jimmy carter saved canada from nuclear destruction. we are running short on time. what i want to do is take a couple callers. this is dan out of virginia. caller: i'm outside the beltway and i appreciate your story about carter, but tell the truth. carter got elected like trump did. he got elected without the democratic party and of course, one of the first things he did was get rid of the limousine so that when hamilton, jordan and the other guys went up to capitol hill, they drove in they
couldn't try to find department spots. he did not follow winston churchill's rule, and the rule is they put the dictators in power. well, jimmy carter's biggest mistake was not keeping the shah in power. he was a good guy. keep the dictators in power and all of our politicians still hold the clans and tribes together. please tell the truth about jimmy carter. host: and we will take your comments. first from florida real quick, and then i would let you responded to both. caller: yes, good morning. i wanted to ask your guest about president carter's record.
i hear about how president cara challenge human rights abuses. what specifically did carter do to address human rights abuses, not just in lab america but also in china and the soviet union to mark 90. guest: you know, i have a tremendous amount in this book which i believe. both of the subjects of the callers raised, on the question of the shah, i don't believe he could have stopped the iranian revolution. i explained why in the book. his biggest thing was one thing a shot into united states for medical treatment with precipitated the seizure of the hostages in toronto which contributed in a significant way
to the end of his presidency. but in terms of human rights policies, human rights policy was -- there are other dictators are other dictators around the world who hear supported. but he stood up against not just latin america for human rights, but a lot of republicans credit him for helping to win the cold war by standing up to dissidents in the soviet union which is a very misunderstood part of the story. it wasn't just in latin america that he was standing. -- for human rights. many other countries and the law. china is a more complicated story.
i have a whole chapter. carter normalize relations with china, and carter believes this would be the most far-reaching decision of his presidency because that normalization is now the foundation of the global economy. he turned human rights in china. the day that he left washington after the norms the important meeting was overlooked by the historian summit in 1979. he said to him, how about the rights of christians in china? when i was a little boy, he said i sent missiles to missionaries in china. missionaries, bibles and churches. any said let me think about it. and the next day as he was preparing to leave he said to jimmy carter, look. missionaries are bad for my people. i can't let them in.
100 years ago, but i see no reason why you shouldn't be able to be a christian in china and read the bible. and the government printed the bibles, but nonetheless, there are now millions of chinese christians which makes jimmy carter indirectly, he and i kind of joke about this, the greatest christian missionary in human history because of the large number of christians in china. as far as other dissidents in china, he has stood up for them in recent years. as every president knows, that is a very, very tricky thing that you negotiate. these are gray areas. that is why i just want people to understand that if they really want a full picture like the first caller talked about,
the truth about jimmy carter, nobody can fully get to the truth. there is no such thing as a definitive book. historians will be arguing about these things for years. i just have to say i go very deeply into all these issues and many more. i tried to do it anyway that is engaging and there are answers to pretty much all of the questions that we didn't have time to get to that are contained in my quite long but. -- book. host: what i do want to get you before we leave is jimmy carter and liberty university addressing the graduating students back in the 2018. his views on equality and america and the world and the 21st century. this is just about two minutes of that speech and i want to come back and ask you about it. >> let me just quote one verse of scripture.
there is neither slave nor master, for you are all one, all one in jesus christ. so far, we americans have had a hard time adjusting to this concept of equality. before the civil war, were between the states finally ended slavery, in the 1920's and then 40 years later, we had a swaddle in our country of granting white women and then black women as well the right to vote. more recently, we have been struggling to end racial segregation. even now, some of us are still
struggling to accept the fact that all people are equal in the eyes of god. [applause] when i was in the navy and also when i was president, i want the united states to be strong enough so we never have to prove that we are strong. but there are attributes of power that go beyond military strength. it is the same as those of a person. our nation should be known as a champion of peace. our nation should be known as a champion of equality. our nation should be known as a champion of human rights. we should also be admired for
our generosity to other people in need and other values. in other words, for those principles that never change. there's no reason why the united states of america can't epitomize these high virtues. despite all these challenges, we have already outlined, maybe to your discouragement, as a christian, i believe that the ultimate fate of human beings will be good, with god love prevailing. host: jonathan alter, on those marks from 2018 and in our final minute and a half year. jimmy carter's legacy on equality in the world. guest: well, i think there is a reason that he has become a global icon and that is that for all of his shortcomings, all the warts, all of his political
failings, he is not just a symbol of decency and peacemaking. look at just the place where that speech, which was one of his liberty university, founded by jerry falwell, who had done so much to defeat carter, he believes in reconciliation and human rights and equality and he has devoted most of his life to advancing those ideas. in that sense, he is a genuine inspiration to all of us, whatever one's party politics in a troubled time. not necessarily through political office he only held political office for 12 of his now 97 years, but throughout the
rest of his life as well. he was trying to do what was right to advance these very deep and american inspired in many cases ideas, freedom, equality, peace. and this is an inspirational time and why when i was working on the book i always found carter to be a wonderful vacation from our own time, even though the 1970's were in some ways very similar to what we are going through now, just because the quality of his character and his decency and his persistence and his demands and himself to be better and to do more come