... you could well invest seven minutes, or even a couple, in watching his appearance with Jon Stewart earlier this week. I saw it only now; preoccupied with, sigh, work when it first aired.

I am sure that people who don't like Carter will find confirmation of everything they think. But there is an edge and honesty to the guy that got attention at the time and are still unusual -- and that come through in the clip. While his joke about himself as the original Tea Party member, starting around time 4:00, may seem labored in the set up, his line to Stewart about 30 seconds later creates a rare moment when Stewart actually seems to blush.

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I'm not saying that this appearance alters large historical debates about Carter's strengths and weaknesses. But it shows a little flash of the personality and intelligence that made people notice when he came out of nowhere in 1975 and 1976. He's candid, too, about the chain of odd circumstances that made a coming-from-nowhere run for the presidency possible.
For the record: I worked as a speechwriter for Carter for two and a half years on the campaign and in the White House, starting when I was 26. After joining the Atlantic in 1979, I had some criticisms to offer of where the Administration was heading.

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