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Reassessing the presidency of Jimmy Carter

By Curt Anderson
June 15, 2021 1:41 pm
Category: History

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NPR's Steve Inskeep talks to Kai Bird about his biography of President Jimmy Carter: The Outlier. Bird's book takes a close look at the four years Carter was in office.

BIRD: I would argue he was the hardest-working president we had in the 20th century, probably the most intelligent and well-read and, without a doubt, the most decent. It's forgotten, but he actually got a lot done during his four years in office.

INSKEEP: What are some of the things that he got done?

BIRD: Well, you think about seatbelts and airbags. That happened during his presidency. He deregulated the alcohol industry, giving us the opportunity to drink boutique beers in every American city instead of just Budweiser.

INSKEEP: Deregulated the airlines.

BIRD: He deregulated airlines, which allowed middle-class Americans to travel instead of driving long distances.

INSKEEP: Because the regulated airlines were more limited flights for higher prices. They were out of the range of a lot of people.

BIRD: Exactly. He deregulated natural gas. He deregulated the trucking industry. He passed a lot of social legislation. He appointed more African Americans and women to the federal judiciary than all his predecessors put together. His presidency was very consequential. And then on the foreign policy field, it's an incredible record. You know, he passed the Panama Canal Treaty against strong opposition. He negotiated a SALT II arms treaty. He normalized relations with China, passed immigration reform. He made human rights the centerpiece of U.S. foreign policy. And none of this has been walked back. You know, it's a very clean record.

Hear or read the complete NPR interview at the link below.

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