Character Above All: Ten presidents from FDR to George Bush

Wilson, Robert A., ed., Hentrick Hertzberg “Jimmy Carter”

Simon & Schuster, 1995

pp. 177 - 178

on Jimmy Carter’s diplomacy in “Operation Uphold Democracy,” a UN inspired mission to persuade Haiti’s temporary military leadership to step aside in favor of the democratically elected President. Carter helped save Haiti, true enough. “He did it, but then talked about it way too much. . . . a person’s character is all of a piece. It would be nice if one could separate out the bits we like from the bits we don’t and just have the bits we like. But that’s not how life works. A person’s character is what it is. It’s a little like a marriage–only without the option of divorce. You can work on it and try to make it better, but basically you have to take the bitter with the sweet. The same bullheadedness and perhaps overwhelming arrogance that misled Jimmy Carter into going on TV after he got back from Haiti and raining all over his own parade were just the flip side of the qualities of perseverance and self-confidence that enabled him to come up with an agreement in the first place. If Carter weren’t the kind of guy who can go on Larry King Live and offend everybody who wants to give him a break, then he probably wouldn’t be the kind of guy who can keep the Pentagon, the State Department, and the White House on hold while he goes ahead and changes their policies for them–all for their own good, of course.” P. 178 Carter is “a ruthless peacemaker. A Patton for peace. He does what it takes even if scorn follows.”