Carter for President? Makes even more sense today!9/9/2015
Offered below is an editorial endorsement of Gov. Jimmy Carter of Georgia for U.S. President. It likely was the first-in-the-nation endorsement for a candidate then known as “Jimmy Who?”
But the endorsement resonates today because of Mr. Carter’s recent diagnosis of cancer and because the qualities ascribed to him in the endorsement differ so markedly from what candidates claim today.
John McCormally was editor of the Burlington Hawk Eye from 1968 to 1979; before coming to Iowa he was editor of the Hutchinson, Kansas, News, which won a Pulitzer Prize in 1965 for news and editorial coverage of the need for legislative reapportionment. John died of cancer in 1993 at the age of 71. A grandson, John McCormally, is an Iowa assistant attorney general.
The Burlington Hawk-Eye
Jimmy Carter For President …
December 20, 1974
By John McCormally
I reserve the right to change my mind several times between now and November 1976, but as of now, I’m for Jimmy Carter for president. And if I had to decide today, I’d round out the ticket by teaming the outgoing governor of Georgia up with the in-coming governor of Connecticut, Ella Grasso, for vice president.
That gives you a ticket nicely balanced, north and south, male and female, with executive experience, the right touches of liberalism without being suicidally radical. Best of all, neither of them has ever given the impression they thought they were God Almighty.
That’s why neither of them has impressed you much. They haven’t yet been remanufactured by the media and put on sale as the saviors of mankind and leaders of the free world. How faithful I remain to them will depend a lot of how successfully they resist the determination of the icon makers to turn them into plastic persons.
Liberals will consider Carter’s first liability his southern address. I shared that bigotry once myself, distrusting anyone from he South. But if recent events have taught us anything, it is that, block for block, there are more rednecks in Boston than there are in Atlanta.
The other thing that disenchants the kingmakers is that Carter just doesn’t look like king making material; it is safe to say that most people still have never heard of him. He doesn’t give any assurance of “generations of peace” or that his administration will pro-duce the greatest events since creation.
Which is all in his favor. If there’s anything we don’t need, it’s another superman. We need to start out with the premise – which we abandoned with Coolidge that all we need for president is someone capable of managing one of the three branches of government for four years, with the generally accepted minimum of honestly and ability that is expected of all of us on our jobs. If we luck out and do better than that, it’s a welcome bonus. In fact, the less we expect of the president, the more attention we will pay to the performance of the congress and judiciary and the state governments and the business conglomerates that own the country, all of which affect our daily lives far more than any president.
Still, we want a president who sets an acceptable tone. If he is too obviously a charlatan, like Johnson, too obviously a crook, like Nixon, or too obviously a dodo, like Ford, he detracts from the overall performance, the way an ugly drum majorette would spoil the music of the best band.
Carter’s an appealing fellow. There’s an air of decency, a disarming simplicity, about him that’s long been lacking in Washington. He has a varied background: Annapolis graduate, practicing scientist, peanut farmer, and politician.
He still needs to be measured against whoever else, in either party, comes on, but for now, I think he’s the man to beat.
And for the benefit of the female chauvinist piglets, I wouldn’t care if the ticket were reversed. CV
Herb Strentz is a retired administrator and professor in the Drake School of Journalism and Mass Communication and writes occasional columns for Cityview