Monday, May 26, 2008

The Scorn Of Some People Is A Badge Of Honor

Not having looked at James Fallows's blog in a while, I missed his commentary on the passing of Hamilton Jordan, Jimmy Carter's White House chief of staff. Fallows was a speech writer in the same administration. In Fallows's post, he quotes from a review he wrote years ago about one of Jordan's books, No Such Thing as a Bad Day:
An unstated operating assumption of the permanent D.C. establishment is that outsiders like Jordan are essentially brought into town on sufferance, for tryouts. They can adapt, "make it," and survive when their time with the administration has ended--or they can be drummed out of town and dismissed as losers. In D.C. terms, Jordan was in the latter category; he worked for a losing administration, and he didn't cut it in society. Yet this book suggests that he has become a more substantial person than most who dismissed him--and even before he went through this transformation, he was a more complicated person than the "Hannibal Jerkin" caricatured in the press. This has made me think of the damage done to other people hooted out of town. (Gary Hart?) If you're thinking of a midsummer gift for a favorite columnist or Style section writer, consider this book.
The sad thing is that you can say pretty much the same thing about Jimmy Carter himself--a president who, whatever his flaws, has done a lot of good for America and the world, yet will always be treated with thinly-veiled contempt by the same Washington insiders who idolized Reagan, regarded Cheney and Rumsfeld as "adults" who would bring wisdom and integrity back to the White House, and will be delighted to foist McCain on us if they can get away with it.

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