Too Nice to Be President?

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

This is the definitive Jimmy Carter anecdote. Once, when he was president, a bemused journalist asked if it was true that the leader of the free world was in charge of the schedule for the White House tennis court. Of course not, said Carter; don’t be silly. What he had done was tell staff they must speak to his secretary if they wanted to book a tennis session. That way, he elaborated, people cannot use the court simultaneously ‘unless they [are] either on opposite sides of the net or engaged in a doubles contest’. Honest, wonky and utterly without humour, Carter was probably one of the smartest American presidents and, consequently, one of the worst. Two new accounts of his time in office bring clarity and depth to the record, albeit with varying degrees of sympathy. As Jonathan Alter argues

No Time for Dreams

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

In 2002, as he pondered a bid for the US Senate, Barack Obama needed to convince his wife, Michelle, why this was a good idea. Michelle, always down to earth and sceptical, pointed to the likely disruption it would cause. They had a young family. He would be away campaigning and would not be able […]

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