Friday, December 26, 2008

JAMES EARL CARTER, 40TH PRESIDENT - After the Nixon/Watergate scandal, Carter was elected as a Washington outsider who promised to always tell the American public the truth. He was sworn in as President on January 20, 1977. Two Bibles were on the lectern at the swearing in - one, a family heirloom, and the other, the Bible used at the swearing in of George Washington as our nation's first President. After the swearing in, Carter and his wife were the first President and First Lady to walk from the U.S. Capitol to the White House. His inauguration was also the first time that the departing President, Gerald Ford, departed by helicopter from the Capitol. His inauguration was also the first time that special provisions were made to accommodate the handicapped in order to be able to view the inauguration parade. Carter was one of the most brilliant individuals to be elected to the office of President. Unfortunately, he had difficulties with Congress given both that he lacked national experience and the fact that even within in his own Democratic party he faced significant opposition from a faction led by Senator Edward Kennedy. He also had the unfortunate luck of being President when OPEC was created and the Arab oil-producing nations decided to impose an embargo so as to drive up the prices of oil. He also had the unforuntely luck of being President after the Shah of Iran had been driven out and Iran had taken American hostages for allowing the former Shah to receive medical treatment in the U.S. Despite these setbacks, two of the most important accomplishments of his administration was the negotiation of the Middle-East Peace Agreement between Egypt and Israel and the investment in smart weapons and other advanced technologies for the military that were later to be invaluable to help bring about the collapse of the Soviet Union and in the winning of the Gulf War. After his presidency, Carter went on to become involved in world peace and humanitarian efforts. He also became a successful writer of multiple books and received the Nobel Peace Prize. Looking back, one of the most farsighted initiatives taken during his presidency was his support of conservation and alternative energy initiatives. Unforunately, most of these initiatives were abandoned by President Reagan when he took office as the nation returned to a mentality of cheap oil.