Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

PBS Takes Two-Part Look at Jimmy Carter

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

PBS Takes Two-Part Look at Jimmy Carter

Article excerpt

Byline: Nancy McAlister, Times-Union staff writer

His father, Earl, gave him his steely determination and self-confidence. His mother, Lillian, set a life-long example of service. Jimmy Carter's moral ideology and work ethic came from them and other influences during formative years spent on 350 acres of farmland near Plains, Ga.

Jimmy Carter, a new presidential biography from American Experience (9 p.m. today and tomorrow, PBS), is a comprehensive look at the 39th U.S. president, from his boyhood origins to his current status as admired statesman, humanitarian and recent Nobel Peace Prize winner. The three-hour history revisits principles that led to his stunning election in 1976. But it also chronicles failures that stand as the legacy of the Carter presidency.

"Going from anonymity to being president of the United States in less than 12 months is unprecedented in American history," says Patrick Caddell, pollster to the Carter Administration who now works as an advisor/analyst in Hollywood and at MSNBC.

Tonight's Part 1 focuses on what led to that achievement. In interviews with biographers, former Georgia political colleagues, childhood friends and former aides Jody Powell and Bert Lance, a picture emerges of an ambitious man who, once he decided on a course of action, was tenacious to the point of obsession.

That drive propelled him out of Plains to the Georgia State Senate and then to the governor's mansion. His unlikely bid for the White House was a case of the right message at the right time. Promising to heal the wounds of Watergate and Vietnam and embodying qualities of decency and compassion, he was at his best, say historians, when his moral ideology guided him.

It is primarily a flattering biography, including interviews with former First Lady Rosalynn Carter and their son, Chip. Any failings Carter may have had are of a political nature. …

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