There was, many agreed, more vigor, energy and commitment in the words addressed to The New England Circle by former President Jimmy Carter and First Lady Rosalynn Carter than any they had spoken since their first days in the White House. As they sat, at ease and composed, in a pair of armchairs facing more than 100 Circle gusts gathered in the Parker House Ballroom for the 42nd meeting on September 25th, the Carters addressed a number of issues. Each time, they were sure of their ground, articulate and informed. Answers to questions from the audience and from interviewer Liz Walker, news co-anchor at WBZ-TV in Boston, were crisp, and, at the same time, charged with compassion.
There were questions about Nicaragua, the Middle East, Star Wars, the need for an end to the nuclear arms race, and the Carters' continuing efforts to keep public attention focused on support for social service programs: housing, drug abuse rehabilitation and prevention, and stronger, more effective mental health maintenance programs. President Carter even had an answer to the perennial political question about who the Democrats might nominate for president next time around. "Sam Nunn of Georgia will have the best chance to win," said Jimmy Carter of Plains, Georgia. "because Sam Nunn can carry the South, a region the Democrats need if they are to win the race for the White House."
But both the President and the First Lady made it clear they would rather talk about their current projects than current politics. Among the projects, Habitat For Humanity emerged as the top priority effort the couple is involved with. Rather than talking about the need for better housing for the poor of all nations, the Carters are active leaders of Habitat, an organization dedicated to helping others help themselves by learning how to build better basic housing. It's a hands-on job, and both Carters have used hammers, saws and shovels to get new homes off the ground in America, and later this fall they will travel to India and Pakistan to deliver the Habitat message.
Their many new friends and old friends at the 42nd Circle wish them well.