A Personal Letter From Jimmy Carter (Vol. 46, Issue 1)
Hi there. It’s me, your President. I'm sorry I haven't had the chance to write to you before, but I've been pretty busy doing my job these last four years by hiding in the White House. Now, happily, I'm back doing what I do best — campaigning for your votes.
I’ll never forget the day when Rosalynn decided I could become President. She said — “Jimmy, all America wants is an honest man. So that’s what you're going to be.”
When you made me your President, I knew I had to start making decisions. I just didn't know which ones to make.
For example, my polls told me you wanted a balanced budget, so I promised. you'd have it by 1981. But last January, my polls told me you wanted bigger expenditures, so I promised you that. Then, six weeks later, you changed your minds again, so I decided to balance that old budget after all. But now, you keep clamoring for more aid, more jobs, and more dollars for the military, so I've decided that what you really want is a 30 billion dollar debt. And I will stick steadfastly by that decision — until the next poll.
As for the Russians, my administration proved that our countries could get along as brothers in the struggle for world peace. To win this honest friendship, all we had to give up was our military superiority. But then the Soviets stabbed us in the back by invading Afghanistan. So I took care of that. I kept us out of the Olympics. That'll teach those Communists not to mess around with the American eagle. About the economy, I realize we have rampant inflation and we're in a terrible recession. How do you think I feel about it? Even my peanut farm in Georgia is losing money. The problem is Congress. They never even read my legislation. All they ever think about is getting themselves elected. They’ve done absolutely nothing to get me elected, too. But at last Israel and Egypt care about me. I did bring them together and get them to sign a treaty. I promise to continue my unswerving support of Israel. I will not force them to make any more concessions until after the election on November 4th. I promise to move the United Staes Embassy to East Jerusalem — as soon as the city is returned to Jordan. And I will personally see to it that the Soviet Union stays out of the Iran-Iraq war — unless, of course, they really feel strongly about getting involved.
And don’t think I have forgotten about our brave hostages in Iran. If any hostages are reading this, I want you to know that I am doing everything in my power to bring you home. I am now praying three times a day. By the way, I’d like to apologize for that aborted rescue attempt that left eight of our boys dead, But that did confirm one of my basic beliefs — never deal with an issue when you can successfully avoid it.
On the issue of draft registration, I want you to know that it is not just a political move to restore my image as a strong executive. I honestly believe that mobilizing our 19 and 20 year olds will strike fear into the hearts of the Russians.
As for Billy taking money from Libya, isn’t it better than putting him on welfare? Besides, it would be bad for America’s image to let the President’s brother starve.
I feel that my internal administration has handled itself very well. There have only been one, or two, or three, or four problems. I don’t believe any of them should reflect on me. So my Budget Director, Bert Lance, — resigned in scandal. So my Secretary of State — the most important member of my Cabinet — resigned because I never told him what was going on. So my ex-Ambassador to the United Nations resigned after meeting with an official of the P.L.O. So my new Ambassador voted against my instructions on Palestinian autonomy, How can you expect a President to keep an eye on everyone?
In conclusion, I would like to say that the last four years have taught me a heap about how to run a country. I’m the first to admit that I’ve made, well, a couple of mistakes. But I'd appreciate it if you'd give me another four years in which to straighten them out. Because there’s no substitute for experience.