We have done those things, as President Carter is fond of reminding us, that we ought not to have done, and have left undone those things we ought to have done and there is no health in us. Miserable offenders.
Promptly after his speech on energy-faith-woe, the president allowed his entire Cabinet to resign.
He meant nothing by it, most likely, but only yesterday I had a private conversation with the mayor of Peoria, Richard Carver, who is in town, and he told he had "a touch of concern about what was going on in the White House."
Like the Russian high-level purges and all that.
This may be the place to illuminate the difference between Washington and Peoria: Here, as the mayor observed, he could not find anybody talking of anything else except the Cabinet resignations, (he said) the resignations would rank "about 27th among topics at cocktail parties."
A shrewd observer. But, in Peoria some people would feel a touch of concern. In Washington, nobody.
In Washington people rarely talk about grave issues. They talk about catchy things, like who drinks alexanders and does not wear shorts or lusts in his head.
If the capital is talking about "nothing else," you may be sure it's trivial and nobody really cares.
In World War II, on the other hand, nobody in the capital talked about the war. They were busy with it in 14-hour days and only talked about Fala or boxers.
Unfortunately - and this is a delicate and deplorable thing, but we should search our souls a little on this topic - unfortunately, the president seems to have lost confidence in the Cabinet.
It is not surprising. There is the legacy of Watergate. There is the economic uncertainty. The president (it is said) may feel the next five years will be worse for him than the last five.
And then there is the changing family structure, the disruption of old American ways. It used to be you could go to Plains and there was Alton Carter selling farm bells in his store and giving favorite customers muscadine wine.And Hugh Carter busy raising worms at his worm farm, with the pileated woodpeckers close enough to reach out and touch as they worked on the trunks of the pine trees. And Lillian Carter busy with good works and good sense as she moved among the villagers.
And on Sundays, church in the big white wooden Baptist church with everybody sweating the impurities out of his blood, assisted by fans donated by the funeral parlor. And real barbecues by a real lake.
And you could put the little tots on a reliable old mule at the age of 2, before they were big enough for a walking horse, and listen, when the peanut harvest came in....
But that is a vanished America. James Earl Carter is now, like so many Americans, an exile from home.
Miss Lillian, more perceptive than most, has said she feels like a blooming visitor just sitting around up here, and for real excitement she'll take Georgia.
Now everybody who ever left a home to come here can understand the president's malaise and dysfunction.
And yet, needless to say, the president had no choice about leaving Georgia. Peanuts and all that is the sacrifice he had to make leaving Plains.
Hell, I had to leave my old 80-foot pecan tree myself when I moved up here. And these losses, seemingly so small, hurt a man deeper than he ever would have dreamed.
Somebody even suggested we leave the two hounds, but that would have been the day, that would indeed by glory-dandy be the day.
But back to the president's problems.
Could we not, all working together with the president (and you know we could do it) restore the faith that once existed between Roosevelt and Wallace, Jefferson and Adams, Wilson and House?
Every day I say something nice about Secretary Califano. When the tongue leads, the heart follows. Say something good, for a change, about the Cabinet, instead of always chipping at the foundations. The president might be surprised at the change that will occur.
Of course the press of his duties requires Carter to travel constantly, to West Virginia, and Pennsylvania, instead of staying at home in the arms of his family and Cabinet. It is one of the prices he must pay.
And yet, difficulties notwithstanding, if one can renew faith in the good Lord, and see more of Blumenthal, all might yet be well.
Now the city of Washington may seem an impersonal place, composed of exiles and strangers, but it is not so. In no other city do people understand sudden quirkiness so well, or smile at it so benignly as of no central importance.
Why couldn't the president say to the Cabinet that its warfare is accomplished, its iniquity is pardoned?
Maybe he could even take the Cabinet fishing?