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The Trustee Presidency: Jimmy Carter and the United States Congress.

The Trustee Presidency: Jimmy Carter and the United States Congress. Charles 0. Jones. Lnuisiana State University Press, $24.95. One of the most interesting developments at the Democratic convention in Atlanta in July was the focus it gave to Jimmy Carter. Many of the most significant events, formal and informal took place at the Carter Center and Carter Library, impressive facilities on an imposing site. Carter gave a primetime address and appeared at the podium with other dignitaries after Dukakis's acceptance speech.

Clearly, eight years have softened harsh judgments and provided some distance from the pain and immediacy of the Carter presidency. Almost inevitably, historians and political scientists, having had time and access to documents and interviews, are beginning to weigh in with more systematic and definitive analyses of the Carter years. We can hope that they will measure up to the standards set by Jones's study of Carter and his relationship with Congress. Relying heavily on a series of in-depth interviews with key personnel in the Carter administration done by the Miller Center at the University of Virginia, Jones lays out a model of the Carter presidency and systematically explores how it shaped Carter's approach to Congress and Washington.

To Jones, Jimmy Carter saw himself clearly as a "trustee" in the Burkean sense-as one elected to do what is right in his own judgment, in contrast to a "delegate," one elected to represent faithfully the views of others, one whose actions are dominated by politics. Edmund Burke laid out the model 215 years ago, and his words, quoted by Jones, apply unerringly to Carter.

The Trustee Presidency is a balanced and even-handed examination of one key aspect of the Carter presidency, written by one of the best scholars of Congress. Given Jones's long immersion in Congress, the book ends up coming out surprisingly sympathetic toward Carter, and even more surprisingly, sympathetic towards Carter's much-maligned congressional liaison, Frank Moore. That Carter accomplished some of the things he did-water project cuts, civil

service reform, energy programs, the Panama Canal Treaty, government reorganization-suggests that a Trustee Presidency is not entirely ineffective or obsolete. Jones uses rigorous social science but in a compact, readable form. This is a very good book, coming at a very appropriate time.
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Author:Ornstein, Norman J.
Publication:Washington Monthly
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 1, 1988
Words:374
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