Thursday, October 01, 2009

Making the Most of His Time
Carter's post-presidential legacy

The AP is reporting that the Carter Presidential Museum is set to reopen on the former president's 85 birthday. The museum, says the article, devotes "more space than any other presidential library to a commander-in-chief's time spent after the White House."

It's fitting. The story of most American Presidents seem to end when they leave office. Two of the three greatest American Presidents, Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt, never left office at all. And while Harry S. Truman certainly stands as one of the outstanding Presidents of American History, he leaves the stage of history in 1952-- it almost comes as a shock to learn that he lived until 1972.

Other former Presidents seem to fade into obscurity after their time in office. Two who did not, Theodore Roosevelt and Richard Nixon, spent the remainder of their lives burnishing (or in the case of Nixon, rehabilitating) their reputations.

Jimmy Carter, on the other hand, has devoted his life after the White House to the service of others- building houses with Habitat for Humanity, and, of course, searching and working for peace.

The Carter presidency may have proved conclusively that a good man does not make the best President (most of our best leaders have had a touch of the scoundrel about them)-- but his EX-presidency is an outstanding tribute to the value of a life well lived.

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