Jimmy Carter: He never told a lie

August 20, 2015

Jimmy Carter held a press conference today, announcing details on his growing battle with cancer.

“I will never lie to you,” Jimmy Carter said back in 1976.  And so far, he never has.

The dignity, humility and integrity of Jimmy Carter is best illustrated by what he hasn’t done.

Unlike presidents who followed him he has not made millions off of interviews or speeches.  Or taken speaking engagements from companies who needed influence.  He hasn’t used his Foundation to trade influence for money.  He hasn’t taken bribes in return for influencing policies for friends.

Unlike many of the most recent presidents he hasn’t used the courts to block researchers or writers from accessing his presidential papers.  He has been accessible.  He simply has nothing to hide. I interviewed him the year after he left office.

Unlike the last three Democrat presidents who preceded him, he did not have sex with young subordinates on his own White House staff.

What is striking is that there has not even been a single charge of impropriety.  One can disagree with his political views but one cannot find anything wrong with his character.

Jimmy Carter followed Richard Nixon into the White House.  Nixon, who was caught in a lie over the Watergate Scandal, created what was called the Imperial Presidency.  His new White House Secret Service uniforms looked like Prussian police officers.  By contrast, President Jimmy Carter insisted on carrying his own bags when he got off Air Force One.

Secret Service uniforms at the Nixon White House.

Secret Service uniforms at the Nixon White House.

It is said that Jimmy Carter redefined the post presidency.  Most early presidents were careful to retire and stay out of the limelight.  There were exceptions. Ulysses Grant got involved in tawdry business deals with his sons and probably would have gone to prison if he had not been a former president.

In more recent times, Coolidge, Truman, Eisenhower, all kept the tradition that held, former presidents were seldom seen and never heard.

Carter changed all of that.  Determined to be useful, he volunteered with Habitat for Humanity and helped build houses for the needy. There he was, the former president, on a rooftop, pounding nails in the sun.  The media couldn’t resist.  He showed energy and compassion and his Carter Foundation impacted the world.

Jimmy Carter’s political rise was a Cinderella story.  He was a candidate for president who showed up in Iowa the year before with a 2% recognition factor.  That doesn’t mean that 2% of the state supported him, it means only 2% even knew who he was.  But by the summer of 1975, right where we are now in the presidential cycle, Jimmy Carter stunned the nation by winning the important Iowa presidential summer straw poll.  It thrust him into the nation’s limelight where he has remained ever since.

It is hard to explain the euphoria that accompanied the Carter election as president.  He was a Democrat who publicly identified himself as a “born again” Christian.  Which put border states into play and reshuffled the electoral college numbers as Republican evangelicals crossed over to support him.  It forever changed the strategic map of American politics.

His family was a hoot.

Lillian Carter, the president’s mother, was a huge personality, well ahead of her time.  Outspoken and courageous in her political views, Lillian was a Southerner who spent her life exposing racism.  A world traveler, a nurse, a former Peace Corps volunteer to India, she became a delightful bon vivant of the Carter First Family.

His sister, Ruth Carter Stapleton, was a well dressed, good looking, faith healer.

His brother, Billy Carter, was the personification of the old Southern country boy.  When Carter won the Iowa Caucus reporters descended on his tiny gas station in Plains, Georgia where Billy held court with a beer can in his hand.  “My sister is a faith healer,” Billy said. “My brother thinks he’s going to be president.  I’m the only sane one in the bunch.”

It was an exciting and compelling time of hope.  America was coming out of Watergate and corruption.  There was hope that this president could restore integrity to the White House.  He did that. But the economy sagged, Islamic terrorists seized power in Iran and the Soviet Union threatened the end of the world.  American turned to Ronald Reagan.

The Soviet threat is gone now, but the economy still struggles as American finds its new place in a post industrial era and unfortunately, the corruption is back.  The IRS, the Veterans Administration and other agencies are tainted.  The front runners for both parties include a Republican who openly brags that “I buy politicians and they do what the hell I tell them to” and a Democrat who is trying to survive charges that she offered her power for sale to even foreign buyers.

Jimmy Carter’s press conference today was a reminder that at least once, in recent American history, someone held power without corruption.

Jimmy Carter and Doug Wead, 1979.

Jimmy Carter and Doug Wead, 1979.


Why I support Rand Paul and why he reminds me of Ronald Reagan.

June 30, 2015

For the first time since Ronald Reagan we have a political figure who is not just running for office to seek personal power but one who is actually leading a popular movement.   I’m talking about Senator Rand Paul who leads a diverse array of young people, free market conservatives, African Americans and Internet Geeks in what can best be described as “The Give Us Back Our Freedom Movement.”

Not since Ronald Reagan has a Republican attracted so many Independent and Democratic voters.  His ideas transcend partisan politics, like his recent tax proposal which as he puts it, “blows up the tax code.”  It’s no surprise that he usually does better than any other GOP candidates when pitted against Hillary Clinton in national polls.

Young people support Rand Paul because he is the only public figure who talks about the corruption of the current economic system.  Regulations create contrived monopolies for some companies and keep new ones out of the marketplace.  Government subsidies favor Democrat or Republican corporations depending on who is in power.  The result?  The rich get richer and the poor get poorer no matter who is president.

Socialist solutions call for more government run businesses.  The US Post Office comes to mind.  Paul favors a  return to free markets and supply and demand.  Many young people like that.  They want a chance at the American Dream.

Most of his following comes out of his strong support of the U.S.  Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Many African Americans support Paul because he would reform the criminal justice system and make justice color blind.  While Democrats like to reminisce about their Civil Rights victories of the past, Rand Paul has picked up the torch and reclaimed the Republican lead for the first time since Abraham Lincoln.

Internet Geeks like Rand Paul because he is the Archangel of Internet freedom, standing with his flaming sword and trusty filibuster should the FCC or any other government agency make good on their promises to tax and regulate the digital age.

Evangelical Christians like Rand Paul because he is a born again Christian, himself, and he fights for their right to freedom of worship.  Paul would end foreign aid to countries that execute women who are, themselves, the victims of crime and Christians simply because of their faith.

Gays like Rand Paul because he is a fierce proponent of personal privacy and the dignity of the individual.  His opposition to government intrusion and eavesdropping are already legend.

His opponents say he can’t win because of his father’s sometimes controversial ideas.  Actually, I like his father’s ideas but presidents were never elected because of their fathers.  Reagan’s father was an alcoholic.  So was Bill Clinton’s stepfather.  Barack Obama’s father walked out on him when he was two years old.  Abraham Lincoln’s father used to chase down runaway slaves for a living.  He would sometimes beat them before returning them to their master.

If this were a contest about who had the best dad, Rand Paul would do quite well.  He can be proud of his dad’s great career in congress.  But in fact, this is a contest about who has the best ideas to run the country and at the moment Rand Paul is a fountain of ideas.

Foreign Policy?  Rand Paul sees Israel as one of American’s most important allies.  In 1978 I served as vice president of Christians and Jews United for Israel so that is no small point for me.

The biggest knock on Rand Paul is his reluctance to go to war.

Yes, he is slow to send in the same troops over and over.  American soldiers now experience the highest divorce rate in history and, as a result, the highest rate of suicide as well.  Rand Paul cares about these families, the soldiers, but also the children.

And yet, Rand Paul was one of the first public figures to call for a Declaration of War against ISIS.  Perhaps more significant, Rand Paul would not have armed ISIS in the first place.  Two years ago he was trying to block the U.S. Senate from transferring arms and vehicles to Syrian rebels.  “It could fall into the wrong hands,” he warned.    Two years later, American equipment raced across the Middle East with black ISIS flags waving, slaughtering Christians and Muslims who opposed them.

When Reagan stuck his toe in the Middle East in 1982 it resulted in the death of 241 marines.  He immediately withdrew our forces, deciding that it was not in America’s security interest to be involved in the region.  Nobody called Reagan an isolationist.

Rand Paul has made it clear that American must clean up its own messes.  So he will do what has to be done in the Middle East and elsewhere.  But I proudly support a man who thinks before he shoots. Someone who won’t get us into messes in the first place. “The soldier more than anyone else,” wrote Douglas MacArthur, “prays for peace.”


David and Goliath

April 23, 2015

I first gave this speech in 1968.  Only I called it David and the Princess because that is it’s more appropriate title.  In 1975 I delivered it to 10,000 people at Dexter Yager’s great Free Enterprise Day in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Almost five million copies of that cassette tape or CD sold around the world in 30 language or more.  I was invited to share it to Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn, 15,000 Muslims in Jakarta, an open air event of 40,000 – mostly Hindus – in Bombay, 50,000 at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow and more than 300 other cities in stadiums and coliseums on six continents.

Now, with the release of Malcolm Gladwell’s bestseller on David and Goliath I thought it appropriate to bring it out of moth balls.  The truths are eternal.  And my take is still unique and unassailable.  Not a day goes by that someone in the world doesn’t email me about it.  I have been urged to monetize it but would rather make it easily available to a new generation of young dreamers.  Here you go.

 


Looking for Randy Smith

March 16, 2015

I have watched with envy over the last decade as friends and family find each other on the internet.  Sometimes the odds are long and the distances in time and geography are daunting but the stories keep coming and they are heartwarming and compelling.  But what can you do when your boyhood friend is named Randy Smith?  Can you find him?  Fat chance.

His name, to be exact is Randall David Smith and we went to Fall Creek Grade School, Indianapolis, Indiana together.  In fact, we first teamed up on the playground at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, where classes were conducted as they built our new, state of the art, grade school at Fall Creek.  (Since torn down.)  Smith and I discovered that together we could neutralize the class bully, but it took us both, coordinated, and it took near perfect timing.

Smith liked the New York Yankees, and particularly, Mickey Mantle.  I liked the Brooklyn Dodgers and particularly, Roy Campanella.  The Dodgers and the Yankees battled it out in those days.  It’s a wonder our friendship survived.  Come to think of it, that may be why I can’t find him.

For a time we had common teachers.  Mrs. Whitmire. (Bad.)  Mrs. Bowman. (Very Good.)  And I think we may have shared Ms. Georgia McGuffey too. (Good.)  Delver Cardner was the somber principal but the assistant principal, Mr. Stoner, was a bundle of ideas and clearly stole the show.

Randy had a sister named Judy.  I had three brothers, Jim, Bill and Tim.  Mrs. Smith was the splitting image of Harriet, as in “Ozzie and Harriet.”  In this case, Ozzie, or Mr. Harry Smith, worked as the manager of the shoe department at the L.S. Ayers department store in downtown Indianapolis.  He wore a suit and tie to work every day.  They lived on Emerson Street and attended the Presbyterian Church just down the road.

I began my lifelong fascination with the Civil War at Randy’s house, where I would study the big picture books his father had collected.  And we laid on the carpet in front of the TV set, with our heads propped up by our elbows, as the GOP had their annual convention in 1956, renominating Dwight David Eisenhower and Richard Milhous Nixon.  Randy and I had lots of “I Like Ike” buttons which we could pin to our shoes and click like tap dancers in the marble halls of Fall Creek Grade School.

Randy played the trumpet much better than I played the clarinet.  And as we grew older he picked up golf.  The last time I saw him was in Indianapolis, where he had graduated from North Central High School.  I had moved onto South Bend.  Later, I was told that he had graduated from college, passed the LSAT, the Indiana State Bar and had become a lawyer in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.

My own son, now a partner at the Foulston and Siefkin law firm in Wichita, once tried to find Randall David Smith for me but that brings up the big stumbling block.  Smith.  Finding a Smith, whose surnames are Randall David and who is, or was, a lawyer, who plays the trumpet and golf and likes Mickey Mantle is not so easy.  The Internet is great if you are trying to find  Janice Worsler or Cameron Modair.  But Randy Smith?  That awaits another technology.

I have passed the hours closely studying images on Facebook and facial expressions or voices on Youtube, imagining how he must look now that he is old like me.  Gray? Bald? In an age of such tasty food he must definitely be heavy.  And, of course, the thought has crossed my mind that he may not be here at all.  That would explain my fruitless search.  If so, just for the record, let me say, there was once a Randy Smith, who lived in Indianapolis, Indiana.  And we were best friends, at least for a time.  He was a gentleman, an excellent student and the best friend a guy could have.  He became a lawyer and there the trail grows cold.  But if his youth was any indication, he saved a lot of people a lot of heartache and he had a grateful clientele to show for it.


Benjamin Netanyahu’s Dark Prophesy

March 3, 2015

There have been more than 100 speeches by heads of state before joint sessions of congress.  But none like the one today by Israeli President, Benjamin Netanyahu.  Doug Wead talks about the speech and compares it to other moments in history.  Wead says Netanyahu’s  warnings about “an Iran with all the nuclear weapons it want in ten years” is a sobering prophesy that deserves discussion.


What’s with Rand Paul’s blue jeans?

February 2, 2015

Doug Wead on Neil Cavuto, February 2, 2015.


Roy H. Wead and the history of the Assemblies of God

June 16, 2013

Roy H. Wead, former executive presbyter, Assemblies of God

It’s Fathers’ Day and I remember an extraordinary man, Roy H. Wead, my father.  He was the first District Superintendent for the fledgling Assemblies of God in Indiana.  It was May,1946, the month I was born, and the old Central District was split into two separate organizations, one for Ohio and one for Indiana.  Dad was the youth director and then missions director for the old district so most of the pastors in the state knew him.  He was elected Superintendent on the first ballot at the District Council in Bloomington, Indiana.  He had just turned thirty years old the day before.

Roy Wead served as District Superintendent for 13 years and saw the Indiana District grow to prominence.  According to a story in the Pentecostal Evangel, the District became the fastest growing in the nation, opening a new church, every month, for 13 straight years. (March 15, 1959, Pentecostal Evangel, Triple in Twelve Years, p. 14.)

Throughout the 1950’s three of the top ten A/G churches in the country were from Indiana, South Bend Calvary Temple, Evansville Calvary Tabernacle and Fort Wayne Assembly.  When Pastor Ted Vibbert sparked growth for Abundant Life Tabernacle in Indianapolis there was one astonishing two year period when four of the top ten A/G churches in the nation were in Indiana. (Counselor.)

Dad had to find a campgrounds, which they did on Lake Placid, near Hartford City, Indiana.  And he had to raise the money to buy it and build a dining hall, dorms, cabins, a tabernacle and a baseball diamond.  Paul Davidson, a retired missionary from the Philippines took on the task of maintaining the place and every summer the Wead kids and the Davidson kids would roam the campgrounds.

The first headquarters for the Indiana District was an office in Terre Haute.  In 1952, dad moved the headquarters to the more centrally located Indianapolis.  Out in the suburbs, on 56th street, across from a cornfield, he built the first two parsonages for the Superintendent and the Secretary Treasure.  We moved into one of the limestone houses, Rev. Dale Zink and his family moved into the other. The son, Paul Zink, is now pastor of New Life Church in Jacksonville, Fl. He was my childhood playmate.

Today, although arguably in decline, the Assemblies of God, is one of the nation’s larger Protestant denominations but it was a different animal in those days, more of a dynamic fellowship and less an official organization.  Almost all of the pastors had come out of mainstream denominations, many were Methodist.  They had been persecuted for their Pentecostal beliefs and practices.  Some had been pastors who found their churches padlocked by superiors while they were thrown out on the street without salary or housing.  A “fellowship” was about all they could take.  There was a clear anti-denominational streak and anti-education streak as well.  The universities were the fountainhead of all of the new “modernist” doctrines that were undermining the faith.

Somehow, Roy Wead, had to organize a District out of chaos.  There were hundreds of independent Pentecostal churches with pastors twice his age.  Dad took his cue from them.  Thomas “Pop” Paino, Glenn Horst, William “Fletcher” Duncan, Roscoe Russell and young men like Gordon Matheny, William Van Winkle, Cecil Enochs, Vern Stoops, Bill Thornton, Wilson Shabaz and Lester Sumrall.  For years, Leroy Sanders was the Assistant Superintendent, followed by Paul Paino and then Paul Evans.  All of them would have distinguished careers as pastors and leaders in the greater evangelical world.

There were reasons for unity.  Without an official denomination their numbers would not be recognized by the federal government and there would be no army chaplains to help their young men in arms.  They experienced power when they were together and inspiration from their exchange of ideas.  So dad tread very carefully and respectfully and eventually succeeded because he genuinely agreed with the idea that decentralized power would bring more success and growth.  He was an anti-denominationalist, building a denomination.   Participating Churches could be official members or just “in fellowship” with the right to withdraw.  It worked and Indiana became a mecca for young A/G graduates.  It was growing and it was open to new ideas.

There were sometimes conflicts.  Some national denominational leaders saw Indiana as a rogue district that was too tolerant.  Healing evangelists that were banned elsewhere were welcome in Indiana.  But so too were neo-Pentecostal intellectuals.  Ward Williams, who married my aunt, became the first A/G ordained minister to earn a doctorate, as well as her first military chaplain.  He was a favorite camp teacher.  J. Robert Ashcroft, president of Evangel College and father of Attorney General John Ashcroft, was invited almost every year.

This “openness” characterized the spirit of the A/G at that time, at least in Indiana.  Dad didn’t like the idea of kicking someone out of the “fellowship” over a doctrinal or policy dispute.  He said, “If you keep kicking everybody out, you will eventually be kicking them in and YOU will be out.”  When the A/G, threatened by the new Oral Roberts University, decided to pull the papers from any minister or teacher involved, dad defended them.  He hosted Oral Roberts events in Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Evansville and South Bend.

In 1959 he resigned and became pastor of South Bend, Calvary Temple.  For many years it was the largest church in the A/G and the first to have its own daily television program. All of the Christian musicians and evangelists came through, anxious to get some television experience and videotapes of themselves.

The great Catholic Pentecostal movement saw some of its beginnings in our church when a layman, Ray Bullard, hosted a prayer meeting for Kevin Ranaghan and others from Notre Dame.  When a group of the Catholic students wanted to take the movement to Ann Arbor and Michigan University, our church provided the start up money to make it happen.  Dad was called a traitor.  When Ranaghan journeyed to Springfield, Missouri to meet with the General Superintendent of the A/G he was turned away.

Roy Wead, suffering from heart disease, and in retirement, returned to his roots in North Dakota, planning to finish out his days as president of a small college.  But when the the North Dakota State University closed its campus in Ellendale and offered the multimillion facility to the organization who could come up with the best plan, dad awakened.  His plan won the day and Trinity was awarded the Ellendale University campus for a dollar bill.

The denomination must have had a love-hate relationship with my dad.  In spite of his independence and resistance to centralization and a domineering, controlling leadership, or maybe because of it, they voted him in bi-annually as an Executive Presbyter were he served for a generation on their governing board.  So I was a bit surprised when I attended the A/G General Council in Indianapolis in 2007 and the program featured a “history of the Indiana District of the Assemblies of God.”  My dad was not mentioned.

“If you do good things,” he often said, “people will challenge your motives.  If you do great things, they will challenge your methods.  But don’t let that stop you from doing good things or great things.”


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