I had intended to finish up a big "how to think about the Chinese tire tariff" item, when instead I heard the news that Jody Powell had died. This is sad in its own right, and when coupled with the death last year of Hamilton Jordan is unexpectedly poignant. Jimmy Carter, who will soon turn 85, is in the position every parent dreads, that of outliving the children.
Powell and Jordan were of course only virtual children to Carter, slightly older than his real offspring and having a work-centered relationship with him. But they'd driven with him across Georgia in the early days and to fund raisers and stump speeches when he was starting his improbable run for the presidency. In the public imagination they survive as the jaunty young characters -- "jaunty" to their friends, "cocky" to their detractors -- they were when Carter took office, as captured in the classic Rolling Stone cover published 32 years ago. (Media fans: click on the cover for a larger version, and study all the names there.)
Powell and Jordan, paired 30 years ago by their precocious achievement and now paired again by death in their 60s, were much better and more admirable human beings than the standard Washington view held. Jordan, gentler and more thoughtful. Powell tremendously loyal and intelligent and honorable, and a devoted husband and father.
I can't help noting Carter's statement on Powell's death, as reported by the Washington Post:
"I could always depend on his advice and counsel being candid and direct." That would have made Powell give one of his tight grins, because it's Carter's way of saying: He wouldn't hesitate to tell me when I was screwing up.