Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Former President's Legacy a Work-In-Progress .....

Over the last couple of months, reports about the legacy of George Bush and his presidency have appeared with increasing frequency ... and a bit too soon, if you ask me.

The proclamations of the spin-doctors and punditz notwithstanding, I honestly don't know if it is possible to get a clear and comprehensive picture of such a thing, here and now, in the present. I suspect that the passage of time will provide a more accurate view ... and that will include taking into account his accomplishments as a former President of the United States.

This idea came to me, late last year, while researching for an article about developments in the ongoing campaign against debilitating, even deadly diseases that plague the Third World. That research brought me to this article by Robert M. Poole, in the June, 2007 issue of Smithsonian Magazine.

"His once-sandy hair had gone all white; his shoulders were a bit more stooped; his freckled face was lined with new creases. But Jimmy Carter's 82 years had diminished neither his trademark smile, which could still disarm skeptics at 20 paces, nor his enthusiasm for the long chance, which had propelled this obscure peanut farmer to national prominence in the first place," Poole writes. "That quixotic spirit took him this past February to an impoverished corner of Ethiopia, where he would announce his most audacious crusade yet: to eliminate malaria, an elusive and ever-changing killer, from this ancient African nation of 75-million people."

I would submit this article for the consideration by those who think a President's legacy is determined solely by what is said and done (and perceived to be said and done) while in office. When Carter's life has come to an end, decades after his political career ended, how will that life be remembered? His road to the White House, and his service there once he arrived, will - of course! - provide many factors that contribute to the image of him that we hold ..... but so will his service to an even larger constituency, since 1975, as an advocate for health and housing, for populist government, for world peace and for truly bilateral efforts to achieve that peace.

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