I Once Touched Greatness

While enjoying a lazy afternoon cable-surfing, I noticed that President Carter has been diagnosed with a serious case of cancer. I wish it was wrong. Jimmy Carter is someone I’d hoped would live forever and just keep on doing what he does. I just think as long as you’re happy to get up each day and go out and do something, even as worthless as golf, Death should just take a number and wait. Folks that wake up grumpy, share their grumpiness all day, and then go to bed grumpy are just a drain on all of the rest of us trying to make the best of it. I’ll admit that I don’t know for sure that President Carter doesn’t have his grumpy moments, but it appears to me that a man with all of his accomplishments couldn’t spend much time focused on his own issues.

 For those that don’t know, Jimmy Carter was the first and only President from Georgia. He was also the only nuclear engineer to become President. When the Good Lord was handing out brains he gave Jimmy Carter a double-scoop. I remember one time hearing a comic say, “I have only one requirement for my president, that is, “that he be smarter than me”. I remember thinking at the time, I think you’re on to something. The people who voted for President Bush II say they felt comfortable with their choice because he’d be a “great guy to have a beer with”. I don’t doubt it. You could play: Know what?, What?, Chickensqaut! all night long with Bush and he’d never catch on. Fun guy to drink with, but my picky standards suggest we should have looked elsewhere for our “most powerful man on Earth” candidate.

President Carter understood the world’s resources were finite and unevenly distributed. He put solar panels on the roof of the White House and launched a program to control energy consumption 40 years ago. What impressed me most though was his efforts for peace and the raising up of those less fortunate. I trust it was President Carter’s Mama that gave him the compassion for his fellow man. Ms. Lillian was a piece of work herself and certainly warrants further investigation.

During his presidency, President Carter brokered a peace deal in the Middle East that left the whole world feeling hope. Unfortunately, the Israelis continued to build settlements in Arab land and strained the peace to the breaking point. President Carter wrote a book, “Peace, Not Apartheid” that very clearly and accurately described how the Arabs were being separated from their lands and being made second class citizens in a land that had been theirs from Creation.

It was on a book tour for the “Peace Not Apartheid” book that I met President Carter at a Borders in Atlanta. I say met, I said, “make it out to Bud, please”, and then I moved out of the way so the next person could get their book signed. I did stick out my hand though, and he shook it. I had two and half hours in line to come up with something good in the six seconds I had his attention, and when I got there, I just grinned. As is his way, he grinned back. I had so many adjectives and adulations I wanted to heap upon him and I blanked.

Maybe fate will give us both some more chances, I would love to have a beer  ice tea with him. I promise to do better with my second chance if I get it. Good luck President Carter.

 

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