Nation: For Better or for Worse?

Jimmy Carter's returns to Plains once seemed a celebration of his small-town roots, but they have come to resemble a political ritual, something the President may be doing because he feels it is expected of him. So it was on the Fourth of July weekend as Carter diligently strolled down Main Street, diligently went fishing, diligently attended church three times on Sunday. His neighbors, never over-awed by the local celebrity, seem less impressed than ever. "He could be doing something more useful in Washington," grumbled one storekeeper. "He don't even help business in Plains no more."

During the Main Street stroll, a...

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