Carter's Great Purge

Out go five Cabinet members in a shake-up that shocks the country

"We've burned down the house to roast the pig." Borrowing this image from English Essayist Charles Lamb, an aghast White House official summed up the most extraordinary week in the White House since Richard Nixon resigned in 1974. In four days, Jimmy Carter dismantled the leadership of his Government by demanding the resignations of his top 34 Cabinet and staff aides. And then−the chairs of power theoretically empty−he set about firing those he deemed ineffective, disloyal, political liabilities, annoyances to his closest associates,...

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