Carter in interview says, yep, he had an engineer's eye for details
PRESIDENT CARTER: Regarding the details, I am still an engineer by thought. You know, when I run my farm or when I run the Carter Center, I want to know what is going on. When I took on the personal responsibility, say for the Mideast peace process, I really believed that when we went to Camp David I knew more about the details than anybody there. I had mastered the psychological and historical analysis of Begin and Sadat. I knew everything they had done since they were born that was recorded, how they had reacted to crisis, how they dealt with pressure, who their allies were, and what their obligations were. So when we got to Camp David, I knew them, and I knew the map of the West Bank and Gaza.
The first day or two when I negotiated with Begin and Sadat, Vance stayed in the little room and took notes, but later, after three days, Begin and Sadat were so incompatible that I kept them apart. They never saw each other for the last ten days. So I went back and forth. And I knew the issues, and I knew what I wanted.
I did basically the same thing with the Alaska Lands bill. I knew the map of Alaska in great detail.
I read a lot. I would say I read an average of 300 pages a day. That is just something that I quantified years ago, so I am not just talking casually. I took a speed-reading course. I did, and about fifty other people did, from Evelyn Wood in the Cabinet Room within the first two months of my term. So I could read a lot. So, I studied those issues. In general, however, I limited the issues on which I was acquainted with the details to ones where I felt that I personally had to do the negotiating. I thought then, as I say this is a subjective analysis, that the major strategic concepts and goals that I wanted to set for myself were generically derived. But on a few issues I was very, highly informed personally. GE: So it was particularly important to get into the great detail when you were personally negotiating? PRESIDENT CARTER: Absolutely. GE: That makes sense. PRESIDENT CARTER: The most difficult issue I ever faced in my life, politically speaking, was the Senate ratification of the Panama Canal treaties. In the fall of 1976, Edwards / EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER | 7 forty-eight senators introduced a resolution in the Congress pledging not to approve any change in the Panama Canal treaties. I had to get sixty-seven affirmative votes. I called in senators to talk about the treaty, and each senator who was in opposition would have selected one particular sentence or paragraph in the Panama Canal treaties as written as their focal point for objection. They may have talked about that back in Nebraska or wherever. So I had to know the details of the Panama Canal treaties in order to sit down across from them in the Oval Office and try to convince them that their concerns were ill founded. It would have been much less effective if I would have had my secretary of state or Brzezinski present and turned to Brzezinski and asked him about a paragraph they were talking about.
GE: So you do not see any trade-off between vision and detail?
PRESIDENT CARTER: I do not think there is an incompatibility. The visions are the generic things, and you can give all of your subordinates the responsibility to carry those out. But there are a few things on which a president has got to be the key person.
I would presume that when Reagan was in office—I do not know this—that the senators or congressmen that he was trying to convince would come into the Oval Office and probably did not expect Reagan to know the details. It would have been more natural for him to turn to his secretary of defense, or state, or national security adviser to talk about details. We were just different persons. I am not criticizing him.
comments powered by Disqus
Per Fagereng - 3/27/2008
So it looks like Carter approved of Brzezinski's scheme to support the Afghan mujahedeen in order to bring about a Soviet invasion. Then Carter boycotted the Moscow Olympics to protest that invasion. Sure looks like hypocrisy to me. Has anyone asked Carter about this?
- Nelson Mandela Dead: Icon of Anti-Apartheid Movement Dies at 95
- George H.W. Bush Given Lyndon B. Johnson Foundation Award
- Bruce Springsteen's 'Born To Run' manuscript could fetch $100,000 at NY auction
- Hospital Donates Records of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis to JFK Library
- Australia’s Eureka Flag Finds a New Patch