Nation: Sliding Down the Polls

A TIME survey shows doubts about Carter's ability but faith in his idealism

Jimmy Carter likes to tell the story about a drunk hauled into a Georgia court, accused of starting a hotel fire while smoking in bed. He admits being drunk but denies igniting the blaze. "Your honor," he tells the judge, "the bed was already on fire when I got in it."

That Georgia thigh-slapper provides the President with a metaphor to explain the trouble he has faced for almost a year. When he took office, his desk was piled high with work...

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