Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Mamma Carter

I listened to an interview yesterday between Diane Rehm and former president Jimmy Carter (originally aired in April...yes, sometimes it takes months for me to listen through my pile of podcasts). The conversation fascinated me and brought up some interesting questions....

1) How exactly did Jimmy Carter get such a bad reputation when he was in office? I remember when I was little, I bought into the negative image of Carter as a dumb peanut farmer. Now that I have seen his work in the last 20 years in international affairs and on behalf of the poorest people of our own country, I think he’s a tremendously compassionate, intelligent man. In the interview, he was articulate and funny. And frankly, everything he had to say about today’s economy and the war in Iraq and bringing peace to the Middle East made sense to me. I’d vote for him. I'm curious to see how history will remember this man.

2) President Carter talked to Diane Rehm about his recent memoir entitled, A Remarkable Mother. He described his “mamma” as a full-time nurse who in addition to her job, spent many hours a day volunteering in the local community. She worked 20-hour shifts. She was rarely home. On a black desk near the front door, Jimmy’s mamma would leave loving notes for him and his siblings, telling them what to do each day (feed the chickens, fill up the wood box, etc.). Years later, Jimmy and his sister teased their mother that they thought the black desk was their mamma. This is the woman (the real woman, not the black desk) that Carter now calls a remarkable mother, whom he describes as one of the “most extraordinary people I have ever known,” whom he credits as the inspiration for all of his life’s work.

So here’s my question. Am I seriously over-thinking this parenting job or what?


jennie w. said...

Sounds like all you need is a bunch of post-its and ton of chores for your children. The rest should work itself out.

Why don't you give it a try and let us know how it works?

Scribbit said...

Carter has a bad image but I think it's typical of people to think those they disagree with are idiots. Clinton may have spoke with that southern drawl and made crazy choices in his personal life but the man was no idiot--you cannot become a Rhoades scholar and be stupid. Same for the current administration. Just because there's a twang in the voice or a slip up in his conversation doesn't mean the man is dumb. Every one is an armchair quarterback when it comes to politics, they think they can do it better or that the job is easier than it looks. Palin's running into that right now--she's from a small town so people paint her as an idiot. She's a lot smarter than most women I know--the women I know have a hard time getting their beds made in the morning while this one is running a states and a family.

JoAnn said...

I so agree with (most of) your comment, scribbit.

I have often heard it said that Jimmy Carter is a better ex-President than he was a President.

Thee is one thing that Carter did that I find absolutely inexcusable. A few years ago, he was chosen as the recipient of the "Distinguished Graduate Award" at the Naval Academy (bet most people do not even know he is a graduate!)

This award is so prestigious and meaningful. But guess what.....Carter couldn't make it to the ceremony. Despite being notified MONTHS in advance.

Like I said, inexcusable.


Jennifer B. said...


How on earth did she pull that off? (She must have trained them young. Pretty sure my kids would completely ignore post-its. Actually, they're getting pretty good at ignoring ME!)

Tangent Woman said...

I have to admit one reason I thought Carter was dumb was because he couldn't pronounce Nuclear. So - I guess as long as you teach your children to pronounce properly the chores you leave for them on the post-its, you're in the clear.

marinamo said...

Jimmy Carter spoke at the embassy 4th of July in Jakarta a few years ago; I was able to shake his hand and snap a photo of him with my husband. Hearing him speak was an inspiring experience; he truly has a world view, which I believe is extremely lacking in the current administration. No, it doesn't mean they are dumb, not at all, just very narrow-sighted.

I have not heard anything close to Palin being painted as an idiot (perhaps we get our news from different sources, scribbit); all the criticisms I hear of her stem from exactly the opposite of idiocy: she seems to be portrayed as a very shrewd, calculating, incredibly-smart-about-how-to-get what-she-wants woman. (And can you say for certainty that Palin is making her own bed every morning??)

Whether you get your bed made every morning, whether you choose to be a mother who is physically present or one who leaves post-it notes (or whether or not you show up for an award ceremony) it all comes down to priorities. We all must decide what things we feel must take precedence in our own lives...but just because something is a priority for me does not mean I should think less of someone who has a different priority.

One could argue that Gandhi was one of the most influential people in our world, yet his children say he was a horrible father. Still, he did make the world a better place for his children and their children by choosing to live the life that he did.

An Ordinary Mom said...

Re-thinking in progress.