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The Real Jimmy Carter

March 07, 1993

In his review of Jimmy Carter's "Turning Point" (Jan. 3), Robert Dallek asks how a man of Carter's merits could have fared so poorly as President. The answer is that he didn't.

Read Jody Powell's "The Other Side of the Story" and Mark Hertsgaard's "On Bended Knee: The Press and the Reagan Presidency" to understand how the media has fostered totally inaccurate pictures of Carter and his successor. Reagan's famous question "Are you better off than you were four years ago?" was never looked at seriously by the media, since, statistically, people actually were better off.

Another myth is that Carter could not work with Congress. In actuality, his legislative batting average was 79%, much better than Reagan's and on a par with some of the Kennedy-Johnson's years, when Congress was more pliable. Carter actually fulfilled two-thirds of his 600 campaign promises in one term--hardly a failure, but no one seems to want to report what actually happened, our consciousness still shaped by the Reagan-Bush campaign of 1980.

Contemplate for a moment where inflation would have been if Reagan had been in office 1977-1980 and had immediately deregulated the price of oil. Carter did as well as anyone could be expected to do under very difficult circumstances.

SCOTT S. SMITH

THOUSAND OAKS

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