Two Sides of Idealism
When my time as your President has ended...I would hope that the nations of the world might say that we had built a lasting peace, based not on weapons of war but on international policies which reflect our own precious values.
— Jimmy Carter
Inaugural Address, 1977
Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!
— Ronald Reagan
At the Brandenburg Gate, Berlin, June 12, 1987
Jimmy Carter came to the presidency as a virtual unknown. As late as the spring of 1973, while serving as governor of Georgia, he appeared on a popular television show— What's My Line?—where a panel of four celebrities tried to determine guests' occupations. They could not guess his. 1 He is generally considered a failure as president. The journalist Haynes Johnson has referred to his tenure as a "tragedy." 2 This common negative assessment is due in part to his being one of three elected presidents to that time in the twentieth century denied reelection. Two earlier holders of the office lost under extreme circumstances: William Howard Taft in 1912, facing not only his Democratic opponent Woodrow Wilson but also the strongest third-party challenge ever mounted in a national campaign (when former president Theodore Roosevelt also ran); and Herbert Hoover, who lost to Franklin Roosevelt in 1932 in the midst of the worst economic depression in U.S. history. But George Bush's unsuccessful attempt at reelection in 1992 poses the question whether single-term presidencies in the twentieth century should be considered as unusual as observers thought when Carter lost in 1980.____________________