Presidents Day: The Best of Men and the Worst of Men

Feb 19, 2024 | PDA News

Character Matters


At age 99, James Earl Carter, Jr., is both the longest-lived U.S. President, and the oldest living former President in U.S. history. Fundamentally, he is a decent, honest, and moral human being, dedicated to service.

Although he had shortcomings as President, and critics often ridicule his administration, Jimmy Carter ushered some remarkable—even visionary—accomplishments through the Washington bureaucracy, guided by sound principles of fairness and stewardship.

But it is Carter’s post-presidency achievements that set the gold standard for former U.S. Presidents. He wrote 32 books, 30 after his term in office. In 1982, he and his wife, Rosalynn, founded the Carter Center to help resolve conflict, promote democracy, protect human rights, and prevent disease and other afflictions. Until 2020, the Carters volunteered personally with Habitat for Humanity, building and renovating houses. And Pres. Carter still found time to teach Sunday School at the Maranatha Baptist Church of Plains, Georgia.

For almost a century, this remarkable man has led by example, and we salute his lifelong service to humanity.

While we are talking about character, here’s what a few other Presidents have said about it:

DWIGHT EISENHOWER (34th President)
The qualities of a great man are “vision, integrity, courage, understanding, the power of articulation, and profundity of character.”

“Americanism is a question of principle, of purpose, of idealism, of character. It is not a matter of birthplace or creed or line of descent.”

ABRAHAM LINCOLN (16th President)

“Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.”

In contrast, there’s Donald J. Trump, flagrantly unfaithful in matrimony, found in civil court to have committed sexual assault, having filed for bankruptcy 6 times, just last week found liable for some $400+ million in a judgment against his fraudulent business practices, and currently facing 91 criminal charges.

Trump is foul-mouthed, cribs white supremacist talking points, hero-worships dictators, and throws allies under the bus to suit his whims and political goals. He is seemingly incapable of telling the truth, bilks charities, mocks disabled persons and veterans, and has never let a fact get in the way of one of his grudges.

Yep, the Presidency is all about character. Which one of these men is not like the others?

Debra Schrishuhn for the PDA National Staff