Former President Jimmy Carter brings book tour to Issaquah

October 27, 2010

By Warren Kagarise

Former President Jimmy Carter takes a break from signing copies of 'White House Diary' at the Issaquah Costco Wednesday. By Greg Farrar

NEW — 2:25 p.m. Oct. 27, 2010

In Issaquah, more than 30 years after President Jimmy Carter delivered the so-called malaise speech, the former president finally uttered the word.

Carter — during a break from a Wednesday afternoon book signing at the local Costco — said the lack of national confidence set the stage for a Washington outsider to run for president in 1976.

“There was a lot of dissatisfaction back in those days with the government and with incumbents in office,” he said. “I really capitalized on that, there’s no doubt about that, because we had had the Watergate scandal, we had had the Vietnam disgrace, we had had the Kennedy brothers assassinated and Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, so there was just a general malaise about what was going on in Washington.”

The former president attracted almost 1,000 people to the Issaquah stop on a tour to promote “White House Diary” — a frank account of the single term he spent in the White House from 1977-81.

Carter, 86, does not see many parallels between the long-shot bid for the presidency of 1976 and the Tea Party movement of 2010.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that the Tea Party movement this time — without, maybe, their knowledge — has been financed by very rich oligarchs who own oil companies and just want to avoid having any sort of regulation, and also want to avoid having any sort of environmental quality imposed on them,” he said.

“White House Diary” chronicles the public triumphs and behind-the-scenes squabbles of a bygone era, but Carter said many of the issues remain the same 30 years later.

“In many ways, the issues that I describe in this book, about 30 or 40 of them, are still on President Obama’s desk to be addressed,” he said. “You know, healthcare and the environment and budget balancing and dealing with energy.”

If Republicans pick up congressional seats as expected Nov. 2, Carter said the party must produce results — or else face voters’ ire.

“Maybe they’ll feel some more responsibility then, because for the last two years they’ve been completely irresponsible,” he said. “They haven’t given Obama any support at all, but I think they get one of the houses of Congress, the public will probably demand that they assume at least some of the responsibility for legislation. I think it might well make Obama more aggressive.”

Carter last stopped in Issaquah 14 years ago to sign copies of “Living Faith” at Costco. Former President Bill Clinton brought the book tour for autobiography “My Life” to Costco in 2004.

Issaquah resident Pamela Dent bought a half dozen copies of “White House Diary” for Carter to sign. Cradling the stack of books, she stood nearby as the former president flashed the famous grin to other fans. Dent plans to give the signed books as Christmas gifts.

“I know everybody that I’m giving one to is going to be really happy to have it,” she said.

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