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Jimmy Carter Should Receive the Truman Legacy Award for His Energy Positions

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Conservative Pundits have begun to foster a campaign that history will redeem the legacy of George W. Bush just as it did with Harry S. Truman.

Since it is doubtful that this revisionist history will take place during our lifetime, I suspect that any redemption must somehow justify how the administration violated the Constitution as well as the Geneva Conventions, and used the Justice Department as a political tool to ensure a permanent majority Republican Party.

It must also rationalize the laissez faire approach to Hurricane Katrina as well as overseeing the largest economic meltdown since the Great Depression.

That said, anything is possible. Truman left office with an approval rating in the low 20s. The same fate may very well befall Bush. But hindsight casts Truman in a much better historical light today.

However Bush is remembered, current events strongly suggest this year's winner of the Harry S. Truman Presidential Legacy Redemption Award is former president Jimmy Carter.

Carter has been remembered more for his post-presidential contributions than the four years he occupied the White House. But a key time in Carter's presidency came when he delivered a televised energy speech on April 18, 1977.

Carter began his remarks that evening by forewarning: "Tonight, I want to have an unpleasant talk with you about a problem unprecedented in our history."

By classifying our energy challenges as second only to preventing war, Carter went on to prophetically state: "The energy crisis has not yet overwhelmed us, but it will if we do not act quickly."

Thirty-one years later, it has overwhelmed us. America consumes 25 percent of the world oil, but produces 3 percent of it, and that's not taking account of China's increasingly ravenous appetite for the same finite resource.

Carter boldly asked Americans from every region, every class of people and every interest group to make an equal sacrifice in the pursuit of the country's energy conservation goals. He specifically stated: "Industry will have to do its part to conserve, just as the consumers will. The energy producers deserve fair treatment, but we will not let the oil companies profiteer."

Carter outlined 10 energy principles for the country to adopt, which called for the government, with its people, to take responsibility and understand the seriousness of the problems. By saving energy, America could maintain its standard of living. An effective conservation program will create new jobs, and conservation is in America's national security interests.

Carter's energy plan also included a number of specific goals to measure America's progress toward a stable energy system.

These goals were targeted for 1985; imagine where America would be if it had attainted them:

• Reduce the annual growth rate in our energy demand to less than 2 percent.

• Reduce gasoline consumption by 10 percent below its current level.

• Cut in half the portion of United States oil that is imported from a potential level of 16 million barrels to 6 million barrels a day.

• Establish a strategic petroleum reserve of 1 billion barrels, more than a six-month supply.

• Increase our coal production by about two-thirds to more than 1 billion tons a year.

• Insulate 90 percent of American homes and all new buildings.

• Use solar energy in more than 21/2 million homes.

More ominously, but no less accurately, Carter opined, "The most important thing about these proposals is that the alternative may be a national catastrophe. Further delay can affect our strength and our power as a nation."

He added, "We must not be selfish or timid if we hope to have a decent world for our children and grandchildren."

America eschewed Carter's clarion call for conservation, opting instead to see itself as a shining city on a hill that required no change in its energy consumption.

It might be a good idea for the next president to read Carter's speech and present a revised version to the nation. After 31 years, we might finally be in the mood to listen and take action

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