Former president/poetic smut farmer Jimmy Carter writes all kinds of books. In fact, this graphomania has made him the first person in history to turn up in Wonkette's book review column twice. What kind of sweaty bodice-ripper is he offering us now? Something called White House Diary, which is apparently his White House diary. Exciting, right? Your Wonkette book person has often wondered, “How would Jimmy Carter describe transport deregulation, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the Israel-Egypt peace treaty, the Iranian hostage crisis, and mutant water-rabbit assaults in a diary?” We find out today! Oh, and Jimmy Carter really hates Ted Kennedy.


Sadly, this “diary” isn’t as sexy as his poems. Because this huge book is a day-by-day account of his years in the White House, and any presidency has to be filled with scandal and intrigue, your reviewer expected some seriously fun diary entries, stuff along the lines of ...

April 20, 1979

Fishing earlier today. All was quiet except for the wind in the trees and the river water lapping against my boat. At some point, though, my boat was rammed by a furry water beast. I looked over the side and exclaimed, “Goodness gracious! A rabbit!” The savage creature clawed its way aboard and lunged for my throat. I was able to keep him at bay only by grabbing his floppy ears and holding him back. He bared his teeth and hissed menacingly.

Finally I was able to wrestle the gun out of his paws and knock the son-of-a-bitch back into the sulfurous hell-swamp whence he came. He swam away, defeated.

“And stay out!” I cried, waving an oar. He still didn’t seem to have any respect for me. Must think about why.

Which could be followed up with several future diary entries like:

September 7, 1980

Woke screaming, and in a cold sweat, last night. The rabbit still haunts my dreams. It arrives in a gleaming UFO.

But no! The real entry for “April 20-22 1979” is simply:

Then we went to Plains, which was packed with news media, and enjoyed visiting Mama, other kinfolks, and friends. Then to Calhoun and back to Washington. It took me a couple of hours each day to deal with government business.

Oh, come now Jimmy. Surely you mean to say “And then I was attacked by a demonic rabbit but I smoked that sucka hahahaha CARTER IS THE MAN.”

Unfortunately, most of the book is just a giant “this happened today” registry with no real insight into what Jimmy thought or felt at any given moment. It’s more or less a long line of entries like "Drafted a letter to Brezhnev today" and "Saddam Hussein invaded Iran." Some serious book critics have said that Jimmy draws interesting pen portraits of Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin during the Camp David Accords negotiations, but your Wonkette reviewer isn't sure about that. You don't really get a feel for either of their personalities while reading this diary. There are intriguing tidbits, though, like this passage about famed former terrorist Begin:

Later Begin came by, and I gave him a little plaque that said SHALOM Y'ALL. In the privacy of the Oval Office, with Rosalynn present, I told him how extremely damaging his statements were, and asked him to restrain himself. A flap developed between us on the West Bank settlements. He's trying to welsh on the deal.

So what was said during this flap? Did Rosalynn get involved? Did Jimmy THROW the SHALOM Y'ALL plaque at Begin? And what's all this about the "Welsh" (a.k.a. God’s Favorites)? What do they have to do with anything? We wish President Carter would be more specific and forthcoming.

Another somewhat fun entry involves Jimmy reprimanding a State Department official for using the word "bullshit" in a meeting with a duplicitous Iranian diplomat. And then there's this:

October 15, 1980

I'm still campaigning every day. In Pittston, Pennsylvania a little Jewish boy asked me in a town meeting if I thought God heard his prayers. This was an event that was emotional.

Is there anything interesting in this diary? Not really. Unless you consider Carter not enjoying Ted Kennedy's presidential challenge "interesting." He doesn't seem to like Ted Kennedy much at all, and this is deeply fascinating to people in a parallel universe where the ultra-banal is celebrated and politics is often reduced to petty grudges and sad/comical cat-fights. And now Ted Kennedy is dead. Did Jimmy Carter think about that, before he wrote these 1977-1981 diary entries?

This thing probably could have used more Rossalyn. Elegant, lovely Rossalyn. And more rabbits too.

White House Diary by Jimmy Carter; Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux; 592 pages; $17.50.

Sweet Godjesusinheaven, this was the most boring book of all time. Poor, poor Jimmy. Send depressing book review suggestions to greer.mansfield@gmail.com.

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