Jimmy Carter was asked whether, as a former president, he still felt listened to and respected. His off-topic answer was that his role as a former president was “probably superior to that of other presidents.” He’s done lots of good work in the thirty years since he left office. Most presidents don’t have thirty-plus years of good health and good intentions remaining after office. Apparently, we elected Carter straight out of college before he had a chance to wiretap anybody, but it’s clear he’s carved out a really meaningful, productive role since then. He’s been very energetic, and he’s shown himself to be dedicated to peace and service. That’s awesome.
Yet, that comment is arrogant and foolish. Even if it were true, Carter didn’t need to say so. Nobody’s saying it’s Nixon. And the comment is not true. A post-president isn’t a thing. This isn’t ancient Rome, where former consuls led armies and ran provinces. Presidents do what they can during their terms, and that’s the ball game. The World’s a mess right now, and we have Carter doing good work, Clinton rocking the house at the Daily Show, and both Bushes transitioned gracefully to private life. Only a couple years ago, Barack Obama was a super hero. It’s great, but it’s individual. We have had more than enough great pre-presidents and post-presidents. Let’s take our excellent quality of life and historic wealth and create some better presidents.