Opinion | The Jimmy and Joe Show

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The supremely ethical Carter always could repay snubs by wrapping his pious cloak around himself and sending a little dig their way. He suggested to me that the Clinton Foundation was too much like an A.T.M. and that he would never make $400,000 speeches post-presidency, as Obama did.

Biden, by contrast, was eager to have Carter be part of his convention. For health reasons, the ex-president ended up making an audio recording, joined by Rosalynn. Carter has had two falls that have affected his vision and a bit, his speech, but his mind is clear and he still swims for exercise.

Biden was the first senator to endorse Carter’s presidential bid in 1976 when he was a long shot. A former Biden aide says, “Those guys love each other.”

“Some of my colleagues in the Senate thought it was youthful exuberance,” Biden recalled in a new documentary, “Carterland.” “Well, I was exuberant. But as I said then, ‘Jimmy’s not just a bright smile. He can win, and he can appeal to more segments of the population than any other person.’”

Biden is all about the good vibes right now, so of course he’s not icing out Carter.

“Any president who puts solar panels on the White House — taken down by Reagan — is going to be seen in a better light now,” Alter said. “I’m always gobsmacked by how much more he accomplished than reporters covering him realized. Historians and future generations have to judge presidents on a standard beyond whether they fought off a killer rabbit or collapsed in black socks while jogging.”

Reports of the Plains summit were positive. Biden, naturally, did most of the talking. And Carter did most of the basking. “He gained five years of life,” enthused a Carter friend.

Biden is less interested in the killer rabbit saga than that old fable about how the underappreciated tortoise wins the race in the end.

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