RIP, Rosalynn.

I started in the newspaper business in January 1979, during the Carter administration. I was still finding my way when the Reagan administration came in. Between these two points, I would occasionally have to edit the inside copy for the big, bloated Sunday women’s section of the Columbus Dispatch. We ran buckets, warehouses of wire copy to fill it all up, one of them being a feature called “Washington Letter,” or something like that, by Betty Beale.

It was a society column about the nation’s capital. Why the people in the rest of the country wanted to know which senators and socialites attended some party at the Italian embassy was and remains a mystery to me, but it was syndicated and we weren’t the only newspaper that bought it.

And from the first time I read it, it was clear that Official Washington despised the Carters. I was young and stupid, and couldn’t understand it. I came from a house where we turned the thermostat down and put on sweaters when it got cold, where we faced hard times by doing prudent economizing. Betty Beale would have despised the Nalls, too:

Betty Beale, a spunky Washington Star Boswell to the capital’s power society, declared recently that in her affluent and respectable precincts there was consternation over Jimmy Carter’s dress and his insistence on carrying his suit bag. “If the American people had wanted their President to be a bellhop,” she decreed, “they could have found one without all that concern about issues.”

Bravo, whispered the traditionalists behind their white gloves. But from somewhere “out there,” as they say in the drawing rooms, came an avalanche of letters to the Washington Star supporting Carter. Miss Beale was even upbraided by phone callers, which convinced her more than ever that Carter was a threat to propriety and excellence.

Naturally, they hated Rosalynn, too. Her dress was frumpy — and used! She wore it to her husband’s gubernatorial inaugural ball! Can you believe this white trash the idiot public has sent to town?

From the beginning, this was the overarching narrative: They’re just so…ordinary. And they had to be broomed four years later for the Reagans. Betty Beale started writing about how “elegant” that walking broomstick, Nancy Reagan, was, and what a beautiful couple they made, and all that bullshit.

We all know how the last few decades went. Reagan had Alzheimer’s in office and the Carters left to become maybe the best ex-presidential couple in American history, modeling all that self-effacement official Washington hated so much. Helping others. Building houses. Embodying true Christianity, while the Republican Party went the other way.

And they stayed married, for 77 years. Seventy-seven years — do they even have a gift for that, a gem? Seventy-five is diamond, and hardly anyone gets that far. Maybe, at 77 years, you get a spaceship or $5 million or whatever.

So farewell to Rosalynn Carter, who died today at 96. Jimmy will follow her sooner or later, probably sooner. You don’t stay with someone that long without having almost a supernatural bond; he’ll go to his reward — and if there’s a God at all, that’s what it’ll be, a reward — and leave this world behind.

Trump was mocking Jimmy Carter on Saturday, because he’s such a piece of shit:

Trump, criticizing Biden at a rally in Fort Dodge, Iowa, told a crowd of supporters that “the happiest person anywhere in this country right now is Jimmy Carter because his administration looked brilliant compared to these clowns.”

“Compared to Biden, Jimmy Carter was a brilliant, brilliant president,” Trump said.

What will the world say about Trump, when he dies? Think about that one. Happy Monday.

Posted at 9:47 pm in Current events |

23 responses to “RIP, Rosalynn.”

  1. Ann said on November 19, 2023 at 10:16 pm

    I never understood the hate for the Carters and time has not helped me figure it out. But perhaps this is part of it. Of course, I can’t imagine why Biden has such a low approval rating, either. Clearly I’m way out of step.

    Rest in Peace, Rosalynn. You’ve earned it.

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  2. brian stouder said on November 19, 2023 at 10:28 pm

    Ronald Reagan was the first President I voted for, having just come of (voting) age back then; Carter (at that time) seemed to me to have been the price paid for the Nixon implosion, and RWR was (to co-opt a 21st century term) would ‘make America Great Again’. But, I was flat-out wrong, period. (But in later years, I did gain some perspective, and in the Obama years became – and remain – a solid D on Election Day)

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  3. Andrea said on November 19, 2023 at 10:39 pm

    The answer to your question should be: Finally! Unfortunately for too many, it will probably be some kind of conspiracy theory about who did Trump in, or whether he is actually dead.

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  4. Deborah said on November 20, 2023 at 4:43 am

    Good post, Nancy. And Jeff G, that was a touching story on the previous thread about your encounter with Rosalynn. If you haven’t seen it, I encourage everyone to go back and read it. Also David C’s comment about Kennedy’s coffin. That’s why I’m here. Nancy inspires some good stuff.

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  5. LAMary said on November 20, 2023 at 8:25 am

    I remember snarky comments from some DC type about Rosalynn bringing her sewing machine with her when the Carters moved into the White House. As someone who made her own prom dress, I thought it was pretty great.

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  6. Jeff Gill said on November 20, 2023 at 8:46 am

    I worry about how & when we’re going to end up talking about a deceased Trump, with his narcissistic assumptions from Jan. 6 to yesterday in Texas about “those are my people,” and ignoring Secret Service recommendations to dive into what he thinks of as “his” crowds. If you spend much time among devoted Trump supporters, the intensity & strong emotions are not hard to miss, but the speed with which their aim changes as to anger & bitterness seems to have not registered with him. Trump reveled in being alone in a tight packed crowd of law enforcement and border serving National Guard all around him, no personal security within that tent where they were serving a Thanksgiving dinner.

    Ask Mohandas Gandhi how that works out. It just takes one embittered, disaffected guy with a gun who appears to be “on your side.” My worry is how his followers will react if that happens.

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  7. Deborah said on November 20, 2023 at 8:54 am

    I think the cheeseburgers are going to get him before a disaffected guy with a gun.

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  8. Deborah said on November 20, 2023 at 10:10 am

    Lawrence Tribe has one of the best explanations why Trump should be disqualified from running for office based on the 3rd section of the 14th amendment, in this video interview with Katie Couric,vid:-AUIjOHw9pY,st:0 it lasts a half hour but it’s worth listening to the whole thing.

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  9. Jeff Borden said on November 20, 2023 at 10:11 am

    Maybe the D.C. elites have it in for Southerners? The Clintons were also royally mocked by the then-reigning queen of Washington society, the insufferable Sally Quinn, who took great delight in painting them as Arkansas rubes lost in the mists of sophistication. Then again, the Clintons are a far cry from the Carters and lord knows Bill C. was a world-class hound dog. No one with any class would enjoy fellatio behind the Resolute Desk of the Oval Office from a 22-year-old intern. Man, that still pisses me off.

    Re: the orange cancer. His death cannot come soon enough for me, but like the unholy demon that is Dick Cheney, he may linger on the scene for many more years. Certainly, Vladimir Putin is hoping he will. I’m linking to an article by Anne Applebaum, who is one of the smartest analysts with a knowledge of Eastern Europe and the Middle East. She says the dictator is just biding his time, waiting for the West to tire of its commitment to Ukraine and, of course, for the reelection of the blob to the presidency, where he will cut all funding to Ukraine, exit NATO and generally throw the world into chaos just because he can. She also notes how many American politicians are repeating almost verbatim Kremlin talking points. . .among them is, of course, Matt Gaetz. . .but also memaw’s favorite grandson, Sen. J.D. Vance of Ahia. It’s worth a read.

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  10. alex said on November 20, 2023 at 11:24 am

    Carter has always been a punchline for snotty arrivistes and raging rubes alike, but my admiration for him eclipsed that for all other former presidents when I learned that he never accepted honoraria for public appearances or speeches post-presidentially. He firmly believed that it was dishonorable to receive financial gain in any way from having held the office. Now that’s class.

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  11. Scout said on November 20, 2023 at 12:00 pm

    I’m still proud that my very first ever vote was for Jimmy Carter in 1976. He and Rosalynn represented everything that is kind and good in this country, not just while in office but for their entire lives. My ex-mother-in-law looked just like Rosalynn and they were of similar age.

    When the orange tumor finally kills itself off from fast food, hate and rage most of the world will heave a collective sigh of relief. It’s unbelievable that there are people who see exactly the same coverage that we do of that thing and think, yep, that’s my guy. The PTSD I have from the past 7-8 years may never go away now that I realize there are people who cannot discern such obvious evil.

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  12. Bitter Scribe said on November 20, 2023 at 12:53 pm

    Carter lost because the economy went south and he got blamed for it.

    Now Biden is supposedly in trouble because the economy is performing strongly, but he’s still getting blamed for…something.

    And his likely opponent will also be an entertainer.

    I’m going to stop with the parallels now before I become too depressed.

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  13. Jeff Borden said on November 20, 2023 at 1:36 pm

    My first vote was for George McGovern. It wasn’t a wasted vote. There was no way I could throw a ballot for Tricky Dicky, who extended and expanded the Vietnam War after sabotaging the Paris peace talks by having proxies convince the ruling regime of South Vietnam they’d get a better deal when he was in office. Suckers. Tens of thousands more GIs died because of that evil prick.

    I’m downbeat by nature, but I’m trying to remind myself polls at this stage are largely useless. Otherwise, I might swallow a razor blade. It’s instructive to look at some of the polling and analysis of the QOP primary in 2016, which was about 95% incorrect. I pray that’s the case in 2023. We’re finished of that orange cancer regains office.

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  14. Julie Robinson said on November 20, 2023 at 1:55 pm

    As Alex, points out, Carter didn’t take money for speeches, and he exited the Presidency on shaky personal economic grounds. The peanut business hadn’t gone well in his absence, and he was never wealthy anyway. It was self-sacrificing to turn down the dollars.

    Didn’t Rosalynn wear the gown out of sentimentality? I remember she and the other ladies at the governor’s office had a closet of gowns they swapped out wearing. They were practical, thrify people.

    Rosalynn wrote an autobiography in which she revealed she and Jimmy struggled early in their marriage (not an uncommon thing). Jimmy was gone a lot with the Navy and preoccupied with his work, and she was stuck in a small apartment with babies and no air conditioning, in the south.

    Jimmy’s book about his childhood remains one of my favorites, especially his narration of the audiobook.

    On a sadder note, it’s Transgender Day of Remembrance and our daughter just got back from participating in a memorial. They read the names of those sacrificed for being Trans, and there were many tears.

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  15. Peter said on November 20, 2023 at 2:36 pm

    I was going to say that I think that with the exception of Nancy Reagan and Jackie Kennedy, Washington society has crapped on every first family – it’s their hobby, and I think they do it better than the Viennese.

    On the other hand, I started to think about it: I think there was a period where Washington society really had issues with the First Lady – I’d say from Eleanor Roosevelt through Hilary Clinton, with the exception of Nancy and Jackie. Either they were too ambitious (Roosevelt, Clinton), or too backwoods (Truman, Eisenhower, Nixon, Carter) or too Texan (Johnson, Bush I). I think the criticism had run its course by Laura Bush – I didn’t hear much snark then. And Washington society didn’t have to make fun of Michele Obama – the racist rubes did that job for them.

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  16. kv450 said on November 20, 2023 at 2:46 pm

    “What will the world say about Trump, when he dies?”

    It can’t come soon enough.

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  17. Deborah said on November 20, 2023 at 5:01 pm

    This is serious stuff, a gift article from WaPo

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  18. Deborah said on November 20, 2023 at 5:14 pm

    This is not good news and by the way the building in the photo with the article happens to have been designed by my husband, it’s the Federal Courthouse in St. Louis, the 8th circuit cases are decided there.

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  19. Jason T. said on November 20, 2023 at 7:56 pm

    When we were last in New York City, we toured Trinity Cathedral’s graveyard on Wall Street, where Alexander Hamilton is buried.

    “Are there any famous New Yorkers whose graves you would like to visit?” the docent asked.

    “Donald Trump,” I said.

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  20. Peter said on November 21, 2023 at 7:38 am

    Jason T. @ 19 – ba-da boom! Thanks everybody I’m here all week – don’t forget to tip your waitress.

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  21. alex said on November 21, 2023 at 9:20 am

    So Pete Meijer, who voted for Trump’s impeachment and served on the January 6 panel is now pretending that Biden has committed worse crimes than Trump and says he’d support Trump in 2024. Funny what a run for the Senate will do to your brain.

    In reminiscing about the Carter years, I’m struck by how much the press served up the president’s brother Billy and mother Miss Lillian as corn pone curiosities. And I remember my dad repeating a joke he heard at work about Miss Lillian winning a beauty pageant — for “having the two biggest boobs” in the country.

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  22. Mark P said on November 21, 2023 at 9:23 am

    All that contempt for the non-elites is one reason for the ascendance of the yahoos in the Republican Party. Of course, the yahoos are so stupid and ignorant that they don’t understand the contempt that The Great Orange Turd feels for them.

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  23. Dorothy said on November 21, 2023 at 1:59 pm

    I promise I’m not trying to toot my own horn here because of a sewing machine story I want to tell. My desired point is to say that sewing machines can do some pretty great things, so Rosalynn was probably thinking of her own mental health when she wanted to have hers with her at the White House. I needed mine with me while 95% of our belongings were in storage for more than a year when we moved one time. We had to wait for our house in SC to sell, and when it did, we bought 3 acres and built a house. Having my sewing machine with me did keep me sane.

    Anyway recently a neighbor asked me if I might be able to help do some alterations to the clothing of her 5 month old grandson who’s had 6 ambulance trips to the hospital since he was born due to breathing issues and gastric issues. He’s had a nasal/gastric tube for feeding awhile, but last Friday had it removed and a new one put in straight into his stomach. They need buttonholes put on each of his outfits (two per outfit, as there’s two different kind of connections they need to access on his wee belly). Of course I jumped at the chance to help. I’ve felt quite helpLESS when I read the updates about little Cameron and wish I could help out someway. Doing this for them is just a small thing in the mountain of issues they have to deal with. It makes me feel really good that I can help them.

    Anyone who scoffs at someone who wants to do something as simple and basic as sewing has their head screwed on upside down and backwards. I feel sorry for them.

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