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Jimmy Carter (2021)

Jimmy Carter (2021)The standard wisdom about Jimmy Carter has been that he's a good man but was a horrible president. It's true that he embodies and affirms the distinction made by David Brooks that "eulogy virtues" are more important than "resume virtues." As I write, Carter is 97, and it won't be long before he will receive the generous eulogy that he deserves, however people interpret his political career. But as this 52-minute film about Carter shows, historians and critics have begun to interpret his presidency in a much more favorable light, especially his determination to fight racism and to protect the dignity of every human being. The documentary is in the PBS series called "In Their Own Words" (other subjects have included Elon Musk, Queen Elizabeth II, Angela Merkel, etc.). Such a short piece can't do justice to the avalanche of literature out there about Carter. Consider just two new contributions: His Very Best: Jimmy Carter, a Life (2020) by Jonathan Alter (one of the film's main commentators) is 800 pages long; and Kai Bird's The Outlier: The Unfinished Presidency of Jimmy Carter (2021) is 784pp. One of the best things about this film is how it fully embraces Carter's unapologetic and very public Christian faith as the key to understanding both his personal and professional lives.

Dan Clendenin:

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