Memoirs Of A President
We came to Washington as outsiders and never appreciably changed this status." (When Bert Lance was under attack, no one rallied round.) He discussed virtually everything with Rosalynn, who had "strong opinions of her own." (Out of one of their discussions came the Camp David peace initiative.) "It seemed that Congress had an insatiable desire for consultation, which, despite all our efforts, we were never able to meet." (But--ruefully--to gain Senator Hayakawa's support for the Panama Canal treaties, Carter read his book on semantics overnight and promised to consult him on Africa.) . . . Altogether, Carter's report on his presidency is an unsurprising amalgam of folksiness, methodical notetaking, and selective recollection. The high point is his daily log of the Camp David negotiations, which also brings a shrewd, "thankful" observation on the two principals' contrasting styles: "In Sadat's case, the leader was much more forthcoming than his chief advisers, and in Begin's case, the advisers were much more inclined to work out difficult problems than their leader." ("I would draft a proposal I considered reasonable, take it to Sadat for quick approval, and then spend hours or days working on the same point with the Israeli delegation.") The struggle for ratification of the Panama Canal treaties is tellingly detailed as welL On human rights, on energy, on Salt II, Carter restates his positions and attempts to rebut criticism. He is regretful that he compromised at all on the water projects; caustic generally about "special interest lobbies'; critical of Kennedy on health insurance; sorry that the cabinet firings weren't handled better; and supportive of brother Billy. Except for a late, election-year reference to inflation, he has nothing to say about the economy. As regards the hostage crisis--including the decision to adroit the Shah--he is far less candid than Hamilton Jordan. (Pre-crisis, there's some pique at US ambassador Sullivan's divergent stance.) If anything, Carter seems indeed to have been out-of-his-element--conscious of how his background differed from House leader Tip O'Neill's, for instance, and reliant on family socializing to bridge the gap. lt's straightforwardly informative, in an unexciting way--and obliquely revealing.