Role of presidential personality in the Carter administration

Colleen McKenna, Colby College


The purpose of this study is to assess the effect of Carter's personality on his performance as President. Over the years the President has become the focal point for attention in government. The character of the attention received by the President has drawn more attention to the personality of the President. I will show how the changing role of government has caused this focus to evolve. I will then examine scholarly literature attempting to establish the correlation between Presidential personality and Presidential performance. Following that, I will develop Jimmy Carter as a person, highlighting the outstanding characteristics of his personality which he would bring to bear on his duties as President. Once this foundation has been established, I will assess how Jimmy Carter's personality affected his behavior in office based on four case studies: welfare reform, the National Energy Policy, the Iranian hostage crisis, and the Camp David Accords. It will then become apparent that Jimmy Carter's personality had a profound effect on each of these four policy areas.