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368 pp., 61/8 x 91/4, 13 illus., notes, bibl., index

Published: Fall 2002

Jimmy Carter's Economy
Policy in an Age of Limits

by W. Carl Biven

Copyright (c) 2002 by the University of North Carolina Press. All rights reserved.

Chapter 1
How It Ended

The 1980 Campaign
Jimmy Carter has said that there were three main reasons for his defeat in the presidential election of 1980.[1] Among those on his list was the fallout of the Iranian hostage ordeal, which Gary Sick, Carter's principal White House aide for Iranian affairs, has called "the most devastating diplomatic incident in modern U.S. history."[2] The part that the hostage crisis played in Jimmy Carter's loss to Ronald Reagan will never be known for certain. It obviously had an influence on the outcome. The taunting of Americans by a fanatical mob in the streets of Tehran added to the sense of loss of national prestige that had been building in the minds of voters since the ignominious escape by helicopter of the last Americans out of Vietnam. In addition to the hurt to the American psyche, there were more practical consequences of the Iranian crisis that tested the temper of the public; perhaps the most visible were a gasoline shortage and long lines of cars at gas stations caused by the cutoff of Iranian oil. Stuart Eizenstat, assistant to the president for domestic policy, remembers the tension of those days: "The cut-off of almost 6 million barrels of oil per day of Iranian production created gasoline lines throughout the nation. I personally felt the aggravation they caused motorists because I sat in several gasoline lines near my house for up to an hour so I could get to the White House to plan how to end them!"[3]

The lingering hostage crisis added to the image of administration ineptness formed in the minds of many voters—in President Carter's words, "the sense of impotence and incompetence that was generated from those hostages not being released."[4] Television's power to capture public attention was demonstrated in the Vietnam War of the 1960s and the Watergate scandal of the 1970s. Its capacity to transmit information instantly and graphically exerts a powerful influence on the conduct of public affairs and can be devastating in defining in the minds of voters their perception of presidential performance. Stuart Eizenstat reminisced, after Carter's term ended, how "daily press attention given to the Iranian hostage crisis, with its glaring films of American hostages carried away in blindfolds against the backdrop of burning American flags, undercut President Carter's political standing."[5] With incredibly bad timing the first anniversary of the seizure of the hostages occurred on election day, November 4, 1980. On the day before going to the polls the public was again exposed on the evening news to the humiliating scenes captured by the television cameras a year before.

A second reason Carter gave for his defeat was the division within the Democratic Party, with liberal elements in opposition to the more conservative president. Long simmering, the conflict broke into the open with the challenge to the incumbent Democratic president by the candidacy of his fellow Democrat, Senator Ted Kennedy, in a divisive primary. The relationship between the two men is an interesting one. On many issues they were in agreement, with Kennedy playing an important role in the passage of some of Carter's legislative proposals. On the fundamental direction of the party, they were in conflict, with Kennedy, the heir of a proud political tradition, taking sharp issue with Carter's more conservative approach to national problems, an approach which the senator interpreted as abandonment of traditional Democratic principles. Kennedy prolonged the challenge long after it was apparent that he could not win, forcing the president to defend administration policies publicly in a political confrontation well into 1980 and to concentrate his energies on opposition within his own party rather than getting into position for his Republican adversary. "We have come out of this primary year and the unsuccessful Kennedy challenge not enhanced or strengthened by the contest, but damaged severely," Hamilton Jordan, Carter's chief political adviser, wrote to the president in a memorandum in late June.[6]

The third reason for defeat given by Carter is the condition of the economy at the time of the election. We come now to the economic issue and the focus of this book. Economic events of 1980 provided a major reason for Carter's defeat. There is compelling evidence that, in the end, people vote their pocketbooks.[7]

The Iranian crisis and the split in the Democratic Party were contributing factors in the electoral outcome, but the inflation that dogged the administration from its first days in office, and which crested in 1980, was probably the decisive reason for the defeat. Inflation was combined with unemployment in the last year of the Carter term. The economy fell into recession in the second quarter, the sharpest one-quarter drop in national output on record. If eleven presidential four-year terms, starting with Truman and ending with Bill Clinton, are compared, only in the Carter administration was the total output of the economy declining in the fourth year in office, the year critical for reelection. Reagan was not elected in 1980 because he was viewed as strong by the public in terms of solving the Iranian crisis. When respondents were asked to choose the candidate "best able to handle the Iranian situation" in a poll two months before the election, only 33 percent selected Carter, an unsurprising result; on the other hand, only 39 percent selected Reagan.[8] But the challenger hit a sensitive nerve when he asked voters during a campaign debate whether they were better off than they were four years before. It was not Iran but inflation and unemployment that were the uppermost concerns in the minds of voters. Asked in the same survey two months before the election to identify the "most important problem facing the nation," 61 percent named "the high cost of living," while only 15 percent chose "international problems." The intensity of public feeling two months before the election is illustrated by the fact that 52 percent took the surprisingly strong position of backing the imposition of wage and price controls.[9] The diagnosis frequently repeated in the 1992 Clinton campaign, identifying the critical issue in the contest—James Carville's "it's the economy, stupid"—could also be applied to the 1980 election.

Perhaps one cannot separate too sharply the effects of the Iran affair and the inflation on the campaign. Theodore White made the perceptive observation that in the Carter years, inflation and the hostage crisis were not unconnected in the minds of voters. The psychological effect on voters was similar; they both contributed to the same sense of helplessness. We couldn't free the hostages and we couldn't stop the inflation.[10]

The Economy in 1980
Herbert Stein, chief economic adviser during the Nixon years, has written that when Reagan asked Americans in the 1980 campaign whether they were better off than they had been four years before, he could count on a negative response. But, Stein writes, "despite the inflation, and despite the slowdown in productivity growth, real per capita income after tax, probably the best simple measure of economic welfare, increased between 1976 and 1980. Indeed it increased just about as much in that period as in the four preceding years."[11] It could also be pointed out that the number of new civilian jobs created per year was greater during the Carter administration than for other presidents immediately before or after. But despite these positive outcomes, the Carter years were plagued with continuing economic crises, the worst of them concentrated in the final year in office.

The word that comes to mind in describing economic events in 1980 is "bizarre." The inflation rate soared to the highest level since the early 1950s. Charles Schultze, Carter's chief economic adviser, reported to the president that the inflation rate in January and February was in the 18 to 20 percent range.[12] Unemployment rose, cresting at just under 8 percent in mid-summer and much higher in key industrial areas crucial in an election year. Of these two major ailments that afflict modern economies, inflation and unemployment, inflation is more subtle in its impact and more pervasive in terms of numbers affected.

The social damage from inflation traditionally cited is the redistributive effect on income and wealth. Redistribution of income is, in itself, not necessarily undesirable. Governments, from ancient times to the modern era, have redistributed income through the imposition of taxes that affect income recipients differently. But redistribution through taxation, while resented by the losers, at least takes place through a democratic political process. Redistribution through inflation lacks this legitimacy; it happens as though by the hand of fate, arbitrary in its selection of victims. Among the victims are creditors. Loans fixed in amount are paid off by debtors in cheaper dollars because of inflation. Those whose wages and salaries adjust sluggishly and rise more slowly than prices find their position in the wage and salary structure worsened. Those not protected by the automatic cost-of-living adjustments made for union wages and Social Security payments lose relative to those who are.

While inflation has undesirable social effects, the damage is usually exaggerated in the minds of the public. It has long been observed by those who do surveys of consumer sentiments that even those who benefit financially from inflation think of themselves as damaged. People have a limited sense of their net worth. The prices of houses rose more rapidly in the 1970s than the consumer price index, giving home owners generous capital gains. Housing was an excellent inflation hedge in the Carter years. The president's Council of Economic Advisers stated in its annual report in 1978 that the rise of new home prices was then "about 11 percent annually, or about five percentage points greater than the average increase of other prices."[13] For the most part, home owners ignored this windfall in assessing the effect of inflation on their personal economic welfare.

For every loser in inflation there has to be a winner. Creditors are hurt, but debtors are helped as their indebtedness is reduced when adjusted for price changes. It is difficult to determine precisely who loses and who gains, but we know enough to suggest that widespread perceptions are probably incorrect. We tend to think of lower income families as the most vulnerable, but one careful study, published while inflation was raging in 1980, found that it was not the poor but the upper income classes that were hurt more by the inflation due to a drop in the value of their assets.[14]

While the social effects of general price increases are more modest than generally thought, the impact on the operation of the economy is substantial. Inflation increases the uncertainty associated with business strategies, uncertainty that affects both the amount and direction of investment decisions. Paul Volcker, appointed by Carter to be chairman of the Federal Reserve Board in mid-1979, pointed out in his first appearance before a committee of the House "that the uncertainty about future prospects associated with high and varying levels of inflation tends to concentrate the new investment that does take place in relative short, quick pay-out projects. Or firms may simply delay investment commitments until the pressures of demand on capacity are unambiguously compelling."[15]

In addition to the restraining effects of uncertainty on investment, the interaction of inflation and tax provisions may weaken incentives for capital accumulation. When inventories and fixed assets are valued at the original purchase price rather than at replacement cost, as they commonly were in the 1970s, costs are understated and profits overstated, an accounting practice that has the effect of increasing the tax liability. Volcker again pointed out in his first appearance before a House committee that "we can observe in these recent inflationary years a declining tendency in the profitability of investment. . . . One estimate indicates that the annual after-tax return on corporate net worth, measured as it reasonably should be, against the replacement cost of inventories and fixed assets, has averaged 3.8 percent during the 1970s, a period characterized by rapid inflation, as compared to 6.6 percent in the 1960s."[16]

Inflation and Financial Markets
While the fallout from inflation hung heavily on the country in 1980, the sense of crisis was signaled most dramatically by the behavior of financial markets. Interest rates rose in January to their highest level since World War II. Indeed, the yield on long-term Treasury securities moved above 11 percent for the first time in history. Rates even exceeded "the extreme levels set during the Civil War, when a viable market for long-term Treasuries simply didn't exist."[17]

The first effect of high interest rates is, of course, to stifle economic activity. Charles Schultze cited the powerful restraining effect in a memorandum to the president in early April. "A builder now starting a house must pay, typically, over 20 percent for a construction loan, and at the end find a buyer willing both to pay the extra price and to assume a 15 to 16 percent mortgage. The typical business firm . . . must pay 19 to 20 percent interest to carry inventories or to meet other working capital needs. Reg Jones [head of General Electric] told me that just in the past week, those GE dealers who must finance themselves (as opposed to getting GE financing) have virtually stopped ordering."[18]

There is another major effect of rising interest rates: a decrease in the net worth of wealth holders. The case of bonds provides us with a good example to make the point. The bond market is a major source of funds for the federal government and for American firms. Bonds represent a huge pool of accumulated wealth held by the public, with ownership constantly changing hands among the players—bankers, agents for life insurance companies and retirement funds, wealthy Americans, nonprofit institutions like universities, and, indirectly, the ordinary American who has bought shares in a mutual fund. The daily turnover in the secondary market for bonds is large in volume with prices changing continuously. The action is amplified by the movement of vast amounts of money across international borders with instantaneous transfer of funds through electronic means.

In the simple algebra of compound interest, the interest rate and the price of debt instruments are inversely related: as one goes up, the other goes down. Because of the nature of compound interest, it is at the long end of the market that swings in securities prices due to changes in interest rates are the greatest. Rising yields in early 1980 meant that the prices of long-term bonds and other fixed rate instruments fell dramatically with a large paper loss for holders of these securities. The Wall Street Journal reported in late February an estimate by Morgan Stanley and Company: "a staggering $400 billion in paper losses on bondholdings." The same late-February issue of the Journal also reported that a drop in the price of Treasury bonds maturing in the year 2009, "with a face value of $2 billion—in public hands—has saddled holders with $365 million in paper losses."[19] IBM long-term bonds issued in October 1979 had a capital loss of 25 percent by late February 1980. Al McDonald, White House deputy chief of staff, reported to Carter in early February on meetings he attended with groups of business leaders. "The bond market is 'near chaos' they claim. Major investment houses," he wrote to the president, "have been shifting heavily out of bonds over the last few weeks."[20] A Wall Street Journal reporter also gives some feeling for the mood of the market. "In the executive offices of most securities firms, the atmosphere of apprehension and gloom is as thick as the carpets. After asking his secretary to hold all telephone calls so he can chat without interruption with a reporter, a senior officer of a major bond-trading house manages to stay calm only about 30 minutes, then, tensing up, he bolts for the trading room. 'I have to see how much money we've lost while we were talking. The way things are going, it could easily be $2 million or $3 million.'"[21]

Before the inflation of the 1970s and 1980s, bonds had traditionally been a safe haven for money. While interest rates varied, they did so within a narrow range, and the prices of bonds, unlike the prices of common stocks, were relatively stable. Financial institutions—banks and insurance companies—sought security in portfolios heavily made up of bonds. The erratic behavior of the market in late 1979 and early 1980 had a thoroughly demoralizing effect on the buyers and sellers in this market. The respected British publication, the Economist, quoted a partner in Solomon Brothers as saying, "nobody knows where we are going, because we've never been here before."[22]

After reaching historic highs in early 1980, interest rates began to decline. By mid-year they had dropped substantially—short-term interest rates in June were about half of their March value—only to return toward the end of the year to the levels reached in the previous January and February. Interest rates moved up and down during Jimmy Carter's last year in office, oscillating around historically high levels. Henry Kaufman, respected economist for Solomon Brothers, called on the administration in a speech to the American Bankers Association in February "to declare a national state of emergency" to deal with inflation. If rates increase further, he is reported to have said, corporations and other issuers "will hesitate or will be unable to finance." His comments touched off a steep slide in the market.[23]

"In early 1980 things really fell apart," I commented in an interview with Charles Schultze a decade later. "Interest rates went through the ceiling, the bond market collapsed. It must have been scary." "It was," he said. "It was scary," but then he added, "we probably overreacted. Things would have settled some."[24] The damage to the president's image in the year of his run for reelection was massive. The financial crisis in late 1979 and early 1980 "put the final fatal imprint," Stuart Eizenstat has written, "on the Presidency of Jimmy Carter."[25]

Causes of the Surge in Rates
The surge in interest rates was due to a number of factors, two of which dominated events. The first was a tight money policy implemented by the Federal Reserve in October 1979, in an effort to contain the inflation, which was reaching epidemic proportions. I discuss this Fed initiative in detail at a later point. Consider for the moment the second, the immediate event that triggered the panic that overtook financial markets: the announcement in January of an upward revision in the budget deficit forecast for the fiscal year still in progress.

"I remember distinctly how it started," Stuart Eizenstat has written.

I was in my West Wing office in December, 1979, when Bo Cutter, Deputy Director of OMB (Office of Management and Budget), came to tell me that the budget office had an updated forecast of what the deficit was likely to be for Fiscal Year 1980, the fiscal year that began in October 1979, and lasted through September 1980. Since OMB had consistently overstated the deficit in the president's budgets in the early years of the administration because agencies were not spending as fast as had been anticipated—a trend that began in the Ford years—I assumed once again we would have a smaller deficit than initially projected. I was shocked to learn from Bo that instead the deficit would be almost 50 percent higher than anticipated. . . . When the announcement was made public shortly before we submitted the budget for the next fiscal year, Fiscal Year 1981, in January, 1980, the financial community was equally shocked.[26]

The explanation for the change in the deficit forecast was reasonable enough. Most of the increase, as Bo Cutter was to explain later, "was caused by either drastically changed economic circumstances or defense increases that generally were approved of by the financial world. But the 1980 budget no longer seemed to represent a policy of restraint, rather it appeared symptomatic of the uncontrolled appetite of the federal monster."[27]

To set the stage for understanding in some depth the market's reaction to the budget announcement, one has to focus for a moment on the central role of interest rates. They perform, of course, a critical function in a market economy. The invention of debt and interest is not a breakthrough as momentous as the discovery of fire, but not too far behind.[28] Debt connects, like some financial time machine, the present and the future. It permits economic agents to command financial resources for use today based on expected future income. It makes it possible for people to distribute their consumption over the course of their lives in a more satisfying and optimal way—for instance, to buy cars and houses when they are young and their income and net wealth are low. Debt is crucial to corporations in assembling productive resources by borrowing on the basis of future profits. Financial markets provide the mechanism for this movement across time. The denizens of Wall Street work in time space, trading off the future for the present and the present for the future. The price of the trade-off is the interest rate.

The general level of interest rates, around which the rates on individual bond issues cluster, depends on a number of factors. A major influence, subtle but powerful, is people's expectations about the likelihood of inflation. If they anticipate a rise in prices, they build an inflation premium into the interest rate they demand for lending. Since the level of interest rates is heavily influenced by the inflationary expectations of financial markets, it is crucial to Washington policy makers to avoid setting off adverse psychological reactions. When expectations turn sour, they are difficult to reverse. The rates on instruments with longer maturities are the most sensitive to inflationary expectations. Since the long-term rates are more affected by inflationary psychology, they are more likely to get beyond the control of policy makers. Unfortunately, it is these long-term rates that are the more important for the operation of the economy because they apply to credit used for major spending decisions, such as investment in plants and equipment and the purchase of new homes.

The potential reaction of financial markets can severely constrain the policy options of presidents. Wall Street possesses, in effect, an implicit veto on presidential policy. The interaction of an administration and financial markets is further complicated by the fact that they operate in two different cultures. Wall Street doesn't understand—or more likely is simply indifferent to—the complexities of the political process, and Washington is not sensitized to the behavior of markets and interest rates. "While the two are only 45 minutes away by air," Stuart Eizenstat has written, "they are separated by light years of distrust and misunderstanding. But market realities have the last say-so. Wall Street votes with the upward or downward movement of stock and bond prices. Their reaction ultimately will make or break a President's program."[29]

No president is immune to the reaction of financial markets. George Bush entered the 1992 presidential race with an economic recovery from the 1990-91 recession too sluggish to create the new jobs necessary to reduce the unemployment rate. Stuart Eizenstat, now an outside observer, commented on Bush's predicament in a not unsympathetic way and perhaps with a touch of deja vu. A poorly performing economy weakens public perception about a president's leadership, he is reported as saying, and makes the White House "seem impotent . . . as if you're using a bucket to bail out a sinking ocean liner. You're inevitably diminished in stature in trying to deal with it."[30] The recovery in 1992 was complicated by the perceptions of financial markets. News reports on bond market behavior in Bush's last year in office echoed those of 1980. "A wave of unexpectedly strong economic news early yesterday startled inflation-wary traders and initially sent bond prices into a tail spin," reported the Wall Street Journal in early March 1992.[31]

Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward, of All the President's Men and Deep Throat fame, describes, in his book on Clinton's economic policy, a briefing of president-elect Bill Clinton in Little Rock by a group of economic advisers in 1992 shortly before the inauguration. They were discussing the effects of a reduction in the federal deficit, a priority of the new administration. Such a policy could be contractionary, they explained, because of the cuts in government outlays and the increased taxes necessary to move the budget in the direction of smaller deficits. But there would be a positive effect if fiscal discipline gave the administration credibility on Wall Street. Woodward describes Alan Blinder, soon to be a member of Clinton's Council of Economic Advisers and later to be appointed to membership on the Federal Reserve Board, as telling the soon-to-be president that with a cooperative Federal Reserve and bond market, deficit reduction could be relatively cost-less in terms of the effect on economic activity. "'But after ten years of fiscal shenanigans,' Blinder quickly pointed out . . . 'the bond market will not likely respond.' At the President-elect's end of the table, Clinton's face turned red with anger and disbelief. 'You mean to tell me that the success of the program and my reelection hinges on the Federal Reserve and a bunch of . . . bond traders?'"[32] Woodward reports that from around the table there was not a dissent. James Carville, chief strategist for the Clinton campaign, was later quoted by Woodward as saying: "I used to think if there was reincarnation, I wanted to come back as the president or the pope or a .400 baseball hitter. But now I want to come back as the bond market. You can intimidate everybody."[33]

Financial markets are relentless. They can be impulsive and shallow in the short term in their reaction to news from Washington. They also have a bias against a booming economy. The ideal state of business for a bond holder is an expansion timid enough to dampen inflation and prevent rising interest rates, and falling bond values, but not so weak as to trigger default on debt contracts. But over the longer pull, it should also be said, financial markets may be more objective in judging presidential economic policy performance than other outside critics.

The sharp increase in rates following the announcement by the Carter administration in early 1980 that the deficit in the budget would be higher than the earlier forecast was due to a mix of Wall Street concerns. The larger deficit would require financing and force the Treasury to go to the market in competition for funds. It was also viewed as adding to inflationary pressure. In any event, the chaos in financial markets left the impression of an administration out of control.

A Final Note
In early October during the 1980 presidential campaign, Jimmy Carter appeared at a town hall meeting—his most effective forum—in Nashville, Tennessee. A questioner arose and addressed the president. "Mr. President everyone makes mistakes. What do you think has been the greatest mistake you have made since you took office close to 4 years ago?" "If I had to do it over again," the President answered, "I'd put more emphasis on inflation."[34] He then went on to add that if he had known at the start of the administration of events to come, like the increase in oil prices by OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries), he would have acted differently. Over a decade later in an interview in his office at the Carter Center in Atlanta, I reminded him of this question and answer and asked if he still thought of inflation as his biggest mistake. "I think that was, on the domestic scene." And then he went on to add: "But there is no doubt that the entire world suffered from an unpredictable and massive inflation pressure from the uncontrollable price of oil. And I couldn't anticipate that."[35]

Carter was right in recognizing that forces were operating on his administration that were beyond his control. As Stuart Eizenstat was to say later, "in no other area of domestic affairs is a President so much at the mercy of external forces as in the critical area of economic policy. . . . It's just subject to a lot of external forces, the rain in Spain and whether you have a drought in Kansas and whether some Shiek wakes up on the right side of the bed."[36] Only Herbert Hoover, whose name is forever linked with the Great Depression of the 1930s, carried into an election economic problems as severe as those that burdened the thirty-ninth president. It was the judgment of the news media and other presidential observers of the day—and probably remains at least the vague impression of the members of the voting public who remember the Carter years—that Jimmy Carter's was a failed presidency. Revisionist historians have begun to challenge this judgment.[37] In this book I argue that Carter, like Herbert Hoover, was tested by economic forces over which he had limited control, forces that in the end brought down his presidency.[38]

Those who were of an age to vote remember only the lopsided victory of Ronald Reagan in the 1980 election: 51 percent of the popular vote versus 41 percent for Carter. John Anderson, a Republican congressman from Illinois who ran as an independent, received 7 percent of the ballots cast. What most have forgotten is that despite the almost overwhelming problems faced by Carter before the election, the race was close until the last week. Just before the single televised debate between Carter and Reagan on October 28, the president led the challenger in the Gallup poll approval rating, 45 to 42 percent. Following the debate the advantage shifted to Reagan—44 percent for Reagan and 43 percent for Carter. In the final poll, Reagan's advantage increased—47 percent to 44 percent. Gallup later reported that "Reagan's sweeping victory in the November election reflects one of the most dramatic shifts ever recorded in voter preferences in the last week of a presidential campaign."[39]

The debate hurt Carter. A televised debate poses risk for any candidate, particularly the incumbent who benefits less from the exposure than the less known challenger. Richard Nixon led John Kennedy in the polls before the first debate in the election of 1960. Following the debate he lost the lead never to regain it. Gerald Ford trailed Carter in early September of the 1976 campaign but caught up by the time of the second in a series of debates, a crucial one on foreign policy. Public reaction gave that debate to Carter, and Ford never regained the momentum.

The Carter-Reagan debate in 1980 was delayed by controversy over the issue of including John Anderson, the independent candidate. The League of Women Voters, which acted as sponsor—the league had arranged for the Ford-Carter debates in 1976—decided to invite any candidate with as much as a 15 percent approval rating. Anderson made the cutoff in September. Carter, however, refused to join in a three-way meeting. A Reagan-Anderson debate proceeded without him in late September. The league finally agreed to a two-way arrangement and Carter accepted the invitation to participate. Given the delay, the meeting of the candidates did not take place until a week before the election. Carter did not give a strong performance; the result was viewed by the public as more favorable to Reagan. The debate was held too late for recovery; there were no second and third chances. It turned out to be a sudden death contest.

It is pointless to speculate whether Carter would have won if he had had the edge in the debate with Reagan. It is probable that an accumulation of factors had convinced the electorate that it was simply time for change. Hamilton Jordan, Carter's campaign manager, has said that "in retrospect, we never had a chance of winning that campaign. . . . It was only ultimately a nagging doubt about Ronald Reagan that kept that race close up until the final days."[40]

The physical transfer of the White House from one administration to another is swift and complete like the wiping of a slate. Lloyd Cutler, who had gone without sleep for two days to assist in the final negotiations for release of the Iranian hostages, recalls his last moments in the White House in a poignant account.

After the President had gone with the Reagans up to the Hill and the actual inauguration ceremony had begun, I was still sitting on that telephone waiting for the final word on when the hostages' plane had actually taken off from Tehran. Then I began the process of clearing out my desk with Fred Fielding's people waiting outside the hall to get in. About one thirty, finally, with something under each arm and a couple of other people helping me carry things out, as I walked out of that West Wing basement, something caught my eye. Instead of the photographs that I was accustomed to looking at, the President and the Pope, meeting with Brezhnev in Vienna, and so on, there were photographs of Ronald Reagan and his dog. By one-thirty on January 20, the transition had happened, the new photos were up, everything was ready for the new President to return to his White House. And the only people who were going to carry on were the switchboard operators and those security guards.[41]

It had been a long road from where it had all begun, the election campaign of 1976.

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