Andrew Ward, FT Correspondent in Atlanta, Charming Cosmosophisticate

Sun Mar 5, 2006

Here’s some of the evidence from this recent interview with Jimmy Carter:

  • “My sartorial misjudgment becomes even more glaring when we arrive at the restaurant, a small and homely diner with bottles of Heinz ketchup and a basket of paper napkins on each table.” Heinz ketchup on the tables. Amazing how slowly time passes for these rustics.

  • “The secret service agents keep watch nearby, perhaps pondering how a career associated with glamour and excitement has brought them here.” Investigating counterfeiting is probably sometimes intellectually challenging and interesting, perhaps even exciting. I’m fairly sure the rest of the post-training consists of a lot of standing around, unless it’s 24.

  • “Carter grunts a rueful laugh, understanding that this is my polite way of asking about history’s dim view of his time in the White House.” Carter’s human rights record in Indonesia and Indochina was atrocious, though this is not the rightist canard Ward has in mind when he mentions “history’s dim view.”

  • “Critics portray the Carter years as a period of malaise for a country still shell-shocked by defeat in Vietnam and the Watergate scandal. Inflation surged at home while overseas the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the Iranian hostage crisis made the US look impotent.” Of course, Carter was instrumental in the first two; and the following administration is responsible for the disasters of U. S. policy related to the covert war in Afghanistan and the Iraq-Iran and Iran-Contra affairs.

  • “While there is no doubting the authenticity of his anger, Carter’s criticism of Bush has the feel of a well-practised spiel.” I wonder why it would be well practiced?

  • “*Anxious not to miss the opportunity, I fish a copy of his latest book, *Our Endangered Values_, out of my bag and ask him to sign it. Only as I hand it over do I notice the red sticker on the front declaring ‘40 per cent off’ and the dog-eared page showing how little I had read.

‘I get the same amount per book so I’m glad you got a good deal,’ he says, promising rather pointedly not to lose my page.”_

Fairly self-evident, here.

  • “As I drive out of Plains, past the peanut silos Carter once owned, it strikes me that I did not tip the waitress in Pharjac Grille - a serious omission in the US where waiting staff draw a large part of their income from gratuities.” Again.