For engaging reading, see Garry Wills' review of former President Jimmy Carter's book "Our Endangered Values: America's Moral Crisis" -- not only for its teachable content (it provides a host of accessible statistics and anecdotes that touch on issues addressed in most first year law school curricula) but also for its implicit claim that Carter is a model of a leader for today's democratic party. (Perhaps the claim is not so implicit. The article ends with the following: "Carter is a patriot. ... He defends the separation of church and state because he sees with nuanced precision the interactions of faith, morality, politics, and pragmatism. That is a combination that once was not rare, but is becoming more so. We need a voice from the not-so-distant past, and this quiet voice strikes just the right notes.")
At 82 years of age, Jimmy Carter is too old (and likely too wise) to attempt a second term as president. But, to pick up on an earlier post by Rosa Brooks questioning the assumed incompatibility of fervent religious faith with "the American tradition ... [of] skepticism [and] rebellion," Carter may be the rare model of a personality who inhabits both perspectives and who is well-regarded as a moral and political leader. Or, am I short-sighted? Are there those from a younger generation who might fit (or improve upon) Carter's current example? Or, perhaps the glorification of Jimmy Carter is an inevitable consequence of a regretful populace (worse yet, a populace that doesn't learn from its past)? Maybe the likes of Jimmy Carter are rare because the seeming incompability of religious faith and skepticism is too complex an alchemy for the electable American political leader but is otherwise acceptable in a philospher-guide whose authority springs from his peripheral posture?