Heath Hutcheson, Campus Carrier staff writer
Former president Jimmy Carter has recently gone into hospice care. What that means essentially is that he has agreed on now receiving comfort care rather than any life-prolonging medical attention. At the age of 98, he’s the oldest a U.S. president has ever lived to be. It’s possible it could be days, weeks, or even months before his eventual passing, but he has chosen to spend the time he has left with his family at home.
In light of this recent event, Bob Meyers, a former special assistant to Carter’s staff director, came forward to speak about his experience knowing Carter personally and reflecting on his presidential legacy, in and out of office.
Meyers says he loved his experience working with Carter, and discussed what exactly it was like to be able to know him on a personal basis.
“He was very easy to talk with. He was a very kind man. He had had a military career so he could be quite decisive, but he had a wonderful human touch, and I think people started to realize that after he retired – with the way he worked for the habitat for humanity and other groups – and how he became a local citizen in a small town in Georgia. He was just a warm and caring human being. He was very sincere and strong in his beliefs,” Meyer said.
Upon hearing the news that Carter would be in hospice care, President Biden, who has been a longtime ally and supporter of Carter, tweeted “We admire you for the strength and humility you have shown in difficult times. May you continue your journey with grace and dignity, and God grant you peace.”
After stepping out of office, Carter did not stop helping the people around him. Just afterward he would establish the nongovernmental organization, the Carter Center in Atlanta, GA. The organization’s primary efforts are to advance democracy, resolve democracy, and improve mental health care.
“Some have said that Carter has been the most successful post president because of all the things he did and contributed to after he left the white house,” Meyers said.
Carter was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 for his decades of efforts toward peacefully solving foreign conflicts as well as his promotion of social and economic development. He is one of four U.S. presidents to ever receive the award, and the only one to receive the award after being in office.
Meyers also believes that one of Carter’s most substantial achievements was how he managed to improve some industry regulations.
“His efforts in the middle east accords – that certainly was one of the highlights of his administration. He also reformed the civil service and deregulated some industries – for the airline industry and the trucking industry while increasing their safety. A lot of government activities are aimed at establishing regulations of various kinds, but sometimes they can prevent people from going about their daily lives.”
Meyers also mentioned how conscious Carter was of environmental issues and energy conservation efforts in a time where public knowledge of those issues was not quite so prevalent.
“He also had a major issue with the environment, an example of that being my office where he tried to lower the temperature which was impart to reduce the use of petroleum which was impart to help the environment,” Meyers said.
Some historians today have labeled Carter as “America’s greenest president” and being one of, if not the first to acknowledge the fact America was experiencing a climate crisis at all.
Meyers also left some last reflective thoughts on how he believes the legacy of the former president will be affected by the passage of time.
“He had, like all presidents, some ups and downs, but I think he will only continue to be more favorably assessed by history and by most people who will comment on his presidency. I think he will be remembered as a very good man.”