U.S. President Jimmy Carter Description and Personality

About the U.S. President Jimmy Carter, his physical description and personality and behavior.

39th President

JAMES EARL CARTER, JR.

His Person: Jimmy Carter is 5 ft. 10 in. tall and generally weighs in the 150s, though he likes to keep it down to 153 lb. For his height, he takes unusually long strides. He parts his sandy hair on the right, and it invariably forms a high ridge just to the left of the part before diving down across the top of his head to sides combed flat. His eyes are hazel. His broad smile etched across Kennedyesque features makes him look like a cross between JFK and Howdy Doody. Although Carter will wear formal clothes for state occasions and a suit and tie in the Oval Office, he much prefers his "peanut clothes"--denim jacket, blue work shirt, jeans, and hook-and-lace work boots.

Carter, like most politicians, is gregarious. He is very physical; he likes to touch people. He reserves a very personal greeting for special occasions or for certain people who are close to him or have moved him in some way. Instead of the usual handshake or buss on the cheek, he occasionally will grab people about the shoulders or cup their faces in his hands and just stare into their eyes for several seconds without saying a word. This is how he greeted and thanked longtime aide Jody Powell upon first learning that he had been elected president. Recipients of this special Carter greeting (some call it a blessing) have reported that it is quite moving, almost a religious experience. Those questioning Carter's sincerity call it his "Jesus bit."

Carter acquired a taste for classical music while in the navy, and he often works in the Oval Office to the strains of Bach and Vivaldi, among others. While governor he was turned on to Bob Dylan and Paul Simon and often studied legislation to their music.

A voracious reader since childhood, Carter enrolled in a speed-reading class some 20 years ago reading about 500 words a minute. He left clocked at 2,000 words per minute with 95% comprehension. Just before taking office, he took a refresher course.

Carter enjoys an occasional scotch, but alcohol plays no role in his daily routine. During the campaign, he abstained entirely. He does not smoke regularly, although he has been known to puff on a cigar now and then. Other than vitamins, he takes no pills.

His favorite foods run to typical southern farm produce: greens, squash, and beans. Grits have been added to the official White House menu. He enjoys cutting into a thick steak, rare, and likes to top it off with a dish of Georgia peach ice cream.

President Carter wears jockey shorts and sleeps in them instead of pajamas. He gets about six hours of sleep a night, about the same as he did while a peanut farmer. He walks and plays tennis for exercise. He takes his Baptist religion very seriously. He prays several times daily and professes that Christ is the most important force in his life.

His day begins at 6:30 A.M. with one ring from his bedside telephone (just enough to rouse him without waking Rosalynn). On the line is an army signal corpsman with the time, the temperature, and the day's weather forecast. A quick shower, a gulp of orange juice, and he settles into the Oval Office for his "quiet time." Time: 6:55 A.M. At 8:30 A.M., National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski enters for his daily 15-minute briefing to begin the President's round of appointments.

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