With the exception of the present leader, ex-American Presidents are generally quite well thought of this side of the Atlantic. Bill Clinton received a warm welcome when he appeared at the Labour conference a few years back but there is one that we seemed to have really taken to our hearts just as his popularity takes a dive in his own country.
I was only 8 when Jimmy Carter took over as President in 1977 and i couldn't say with any confidence whether he was a good President but folks here seem to revere him mostly because he never used the immense military machine at his disposal unlike every President since Herbert Hoover prior to his administration, and certainly every President since.
His tireless work in attempting to bring peace to the Middle East also brings him a little closer to British hearts although this seems to be the very reason which divides British and American opinion on him.
The peace treaty between Israel and Egypt in 1979 was probably his stand out moment during his time in charge but his recent actions in the Middle East where he met with Syrian and Hamas leaders and writing a book comparing Israel's actions towards the Palestinians to Apartheid South Africa, calling it 'one of the greatest human rights crimes on earth, have seen his stock fall rapidly in his home country but rise immensely in Europe.
The standing ovation following the speech he made at the Hay Festival a fortnight ago probably sums up exactly why he is so fondly thought of here. Stating that he could drastically alter Americas image in ten minutes he said that his first speech, if he was elected as President again, would be: "My country will never again torture a prisoner, we will never again attack another country unless our security is directly threatened. Human rights will be the foundation of our foreign policy."
It seems that what we see and like in ex-President Carter is very much the opposite of what we see and dislike in President Bush and yearn for a return to the days where a President can finish his term and argue that diplomacy was always put first.
As he said in the news interview this weekend when questioned on what was his legacy, "We kept our country at peace, we never dropped a bomb, we never launched a missile" he replied and there isn't many leaders of the Worlds major countries who can proudly make that boast.