Ross: I admit having a soft spot for President Jimmy Carter

Feb 20, 2023, 6:55 AM | Updated: 12:15 pm
Jimmy Carter...
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 26: Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter smiles during a book signing event for his new book 'Faith: A Journey For All' at Barnes & Noble bookstore in Midtown Manhattan, March 26, 2018 in New York City. Carter, 93, has been a prolific author since leaving office in 1981, publishing dozens of books. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The Carter Center announced over the weekend that former President Jimmy Carter is now in hospice.

I admit having a soft spot for Jimmy Carter, because I covered him when he was Governor of Georgia. I’ll always remember his open door policy. The trick was to wait until the press aide outside the office took a break, and then, if the governor’s door was open, you could just walk in. And he would give an interview.

Jimmy Carter, 39th US president, enters hospice care at home

I saw first-hand his determination to follow his conscience — how he would write out a press statement in longhand on a legal pad without consulting his aides.

He wasn’t always the good guy. When he ran for governor he made a shameless play for the white vote. He appealed to segregationists. He campaigned against forced bussing, and criticized his opponent for supporting Martin Luther King.

But then, on inauguration day in Atlanta, 1971, Carter said this:

“I say to you quite frankly that the time for racial discrimination is over.”

The applause was rather tepid, because the segregationists knew they’d been played.

“No poor, rural, weak, or Black person should ever have to bare the additional burdens of being deprived of the opportunity of an education, or job, or simple justice,” said Carter.

When he decided in 1974 to run for President, I didn’t get it. He was not a great speaker, and no one knew who he was. But he outworked everybody and won. And speaking from the steps of the capitol, promised to bring that idealism to the White House.

“For we know that if we despise our own government, we have no future. We reject the prospects of failure or mediocrity, or an inferior quality of life for any purpose. Our government must at the same time be both competent and compassionate.”

More from Dave Ross: The Dave Ross Interview: Rep. Adam Smith talks aliens, Biden

Unfortunately, there were too many crises – the Iran hostage crisis, a botched rescue mission, gas lines, mortgage rates so high that by 1980 when we bought our first house – I signed a mortgage contract at an interest rate of 15%.

And that year Carter would lose in a landslide to Ronald Reagan.

But the end of his presidency marked the beginning of the longest and most active post-presidency in American history: A Nobel peace prize, the Carter Center, Habitat for Humanity.

He remained engaged in the Middle East – with both sides. He monitored elections around the world.

He also criticized his allies – Bill Clinton for the Lewinsky Scandal; Obama for using drones against terrorists, and for keeping Gitmo open.

It was all part of his mission to give citizens a reason to trust their government.

“And that we had enabled our people to be proud of their government once again,” said President Carter.

That was a tall order in 1977. And despite all his efforts, it’s even tougher now.

At least he tried.

Dave Ross on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM
  • listen to dave rossTune in to KIRO Newsradio weekdays at 5am for Dave Ross on Seattle's Morning News.

Dave's Commentary

KIRO Newsradio Opinion

Travis Mayfield

Mayfield: Helping others through loss with empathy, care, and memory

Death, loss, and grief are hard things, so when we see others dealing with them sometimes our instinct is to turn away.
2 days ago
downtown Seattle...
Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin Show

Gee & Ursula debate suspension of downtown business taxes

Seattle business leaders are asking the city to suspend the B&O and JumpStart tax for the next three years as a way to revitalize downtown.
3 days ago
Dave Ross

Ross: NCAA should bring back consolation games in March Madness

Jay Paul Blake wrote to Dave Ross saying that the NCAA needs to bring the consolation game back for March Madness.
3 days ago
memorial wall...
L.B. Gilbert

Feliks, Dave debate the future of Seattle’s Memorial Stadium

Dave Ross and Feliks Banel debated how far the city should go in preserving the memorial, what its purpose in the community should be.
4 days ago
Dodge Challenger...
Dave Ross

Ross: Dodge Challenger Demon with optional parachute still street legal

Even if police pursuits were routine again, there’d be no catching you behind the wheel of the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon 170.
4 days ago
seattle skyline...
Bill Kaczaraba

Why is Seattle one of the most anxious cities in America?

Both Jack and Spike agreed that the income disparity and the high cost of housing are factors for all the anxiety.
5 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Emergency Preparedness...

Prepare for the next disaster at the Emergency Preparedness Conference

Being prepared before the next emergency arrives is key to preserving businesses and organizations of many kinds.
SHIBA volunteer...

Volunteer to help people understand their Medicare options!

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you!
safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Ross: I admit having a soft spot for President Jimmy Carter