Other challenges were created by Carter’s predispositions and the early actions of some of his staff who lacked Washington experience. Jimmy Carter was not fond of consulting with Congress when it came to issues of “presidential prerogative,” and Congress resented it; some of his staff did not regard members of Congress with the proper level of respect, and many of his inner circle of advisers had little or no Washington experience. Still other challenges were beyond Jimmy Carter’s control. Some members of Congress regarded him as an “accidental president,” others felt they would make a better president, and many resented his southern and evangelical roots.
In some respects, this book is a necessary corrective to the generally held belief that Jimmy Carter was a failure as a legislative leader. Carter chose to confront difficult issues and was often legislatively successful; by standard measures of legislative success, he was as successful as Lyndon Johnson. This book is not, however, a paean; it is a sober if long overdue appraisal that focuses on a pivotal issue (the politics of appropriations and the pork barrel), at the intersection of the two premier American political institutions (Congress and the president), nested in a particular context and set of events. The case explored in this book allows us to bore directly into the heart of presidential influence in the appropriations process, while also allowing for a reappraisal of the Carter presidency.