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The Presidency of James Earl Carter Jr. ) University Press of Kansas 2 Revised edition Burton Ira Kaufman

31st May 2012 History Books 0 Comments

He has been called America’s greatest ex-president, a man who lost the White House after one term but went on to become a respected spokes-man for peace and human rights.

Burton Kaufman’s book on the Carter years was hailed as the best account of his administration. This new edition probes more deeply into Jimmy Carter’s approach to the presidency and the issues that he faced. It features more information on his foreign and environmental policies and expanded coverage of his personal background-both his upbringing and naval career-along with insights into his wife’s activist role.

Drawing on Carter’s previously unavailable Handwriting File, as well as on new oral histories and Carter’s own books, Burton and Scott Kaufman show the ways in which Carter had the opportunity-but failed-to be a successful transitional president. By the fall of 1978 he had become a more effective leader than during the first part of his presidency but could not undo his earlier mistakes and continued to make serious errors of political judgment.

Weighing achievements such as the Alaska Land Bill with shortcomings such as disarray within the White House and strained relations with Congress, the authors re-examine the world events that shaped Carter’s presidency, from Koreagate and the Cuban boatlift to the Camp David accords and the Iran hostage crisis. They explore bureaucratic infighting over his human rights policies, describing how the administration’s position changed with greater emphasis on security issues after 1979; they also examine the issue of arms control in the light of newly opened Soviet archives and argue that the Vance-Brzezinski dispute was more profound than had originally been thought.

In the final analysis, the Kaufmans fault Carter for not crafting a coherent message that would offer the American people a vision on which to build a base of support and assure his success. As his reputation as an ex-president continues to grow, this updated book offers an even better understanding of his White House years.

This book is part of the American Presidency Series.

As president, Jimmy Carter was “long on good intentions but short on knowledge.” The author of this superb book (history, Virginia Tech.) firmly grounds his research in the massive collections of the Carter Library in Atlanta. He demonstrates convincingly that while Jimmy Carter was certainly “one of the nation’s brightest chief executives,” he failed to articulate “an overarching purpose and direction for his administration.” Though personally sympathetic toward Carter and his efforts in such fields as energy conservation, arms control, and the Mideast, Kaufman must conclude that “his was a mediocre presidency and that much of the reason for this was his own doing.” This reasoned and sprightly monograph will inform scholars and lay readers alike. Highly recommended.
- Thomas H. Appleton Jr., Kentucky Historical Soc., Frankfort
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. –This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

Jimmy Carter as failed President. Kaufman (History/Virginia Polytechnic Institute; The Oil Cartel Case, 1978) suggests that Carter’s difficulties were less a consequence of the problems he faced (the demoralizing effects of Vietnam and Watergate and the rise of the PACs most obviously, the CIA time-bomb in Iran less so) than of a conceptual failure. It was the President’s inability (or refusal) to grasp the rules of the game, the author says, that led to the impasse with Congress and the national sense of futility. Carter saw himself as a “trustee of the public good,” willing to do and say things that reduced him politically; he wasn’t concerned enough with the process by which things get done, and squandered his unsure mandate. Kaufman makes his case well and clearly, offering a subtle appreciation of Carter as a wholesome, patient, plain-spoken technocrat who tried to do what he’d promised, starting with a more representative Cabinet. But the members of that Cabinet weren’t “original thinkers, grand strategists, or innovative planners,” and one in particular, Attorney General Griffin Bell, was anathema to minority groups and was, simply, a bad choice. Carter’s failure to prioritize his legislative agenda in light of real-world possibilities was similarly naive, says Kaufman–as was the idea that “fiscal conservatism” could go hand-in-hand with a costly and activist liberal agenda. Kaufman is anything but a Carter-basher, though, and while repeatedly detailing the President’s awkwardness, he doesn’t fault him for his goals. Why was Carter so unpopular despite a peaceful presidency and foreign-policy success in Panama and at Camp David? The question never dealt with here is whether Carter’s traditional honesty and ethics simply were out of tune with a nation preferring to avoid energy reform, the legacy of Vietnam, and the implications of Watergate–a nation waiting for Ronald Reagan. — Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. –This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

The Presidency of James Earl Carter, Jr. (American Presidency (Univ of Kansas Hardcover))

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