Though most American males who opened up to the center of that very magazine were guilty of the exact same sin, the reaction from the public and the talking heads of the media was thunderous.
Marge Thurmond, chairman of the state Democratic Party, described the public’s response as “bad, bad, bad.” Her own assessment? “I thought it was disastrous. I don’t know why in the hell he did it.”
Carter, the Georgia peanut farmer and Sunday school teacher, had previously come across to the American voters as squeaky clean. The concern among his Democratic backers was that Carter might seem too pious. Andrew Young, a U.S. Rep. at the time, said the Playboy interview certainly fixed that. "(Carter) has taken care of his religion problem once and for all."
Jimmy Carter is the second-oldest living former American president, serving from 1977-1981 While his presidency was not without controversy, some accomplishments were particularly significant President Carter prioritized the Department of Education, moving it out of the Department of Health and Human Services In 1977, Carter established the US Department of Energy after the energy crisis of the 1970s With the Social Security amendments of 1977, Carter shored up solvency of the system In 1977, Carter sele
For some, the interview served to humanize Carter as a regular person, prey to the same failings as everyone.
To others, the interview was a kind of humble-brag, a confession of a flaw that was so minuscule that it served as an unspoken claim to virtue. Others simply thought it was over-sharing
BBC radio commentator Alistair Cooke opined at the time that the confessions were a liability, not because Americans looked down on someone who admitted to sin, but because the admissions seemed to come from an unfamiliar world, the world of the washed-in-the-blood Southern Baptist.
They gave us, he said, “The uncomfortable and growing feeling that we don’t quite know who Carter is or what he’s really up to.”
Time magazine accounted it among the “Top 10 Unfortunate Political One-liners.”
Carter reflected on the "exotic" nature of the term "born again," which was new to many Americans in 1976, during the writing of his 2005 book "Our Endangered Values: America's Moral Crisis."
"To me it was like breathing," he said of the term. “(A)ll of us [Southern Baptists] considered ourselves to be born again."
Other political opponents took advantage of the fact that Carter spoke to Playboy at all.
Vice President Nelson Rockefeller enjoyed leering at the idea, telling a Cleveland audience, "I never thought I'd see the day when Christ's teachings were discussed in Playboy and I'm a Baptist, ladies and gentlemen!"
Carter, who turns 93 on Sunday, later said that the comments might have lost him his wide lead over President Gerald Ford, and could have cost him the election. But he never took back his words or his meaning.
As he says in the interview, “Christ set some almost impossible standards for us.” He then goes on to quote Christ’s words from Matthew 5: 28 — the words that are mirrored in his famous confession:
“I tell you that anyone who looks on a woman with lust in his heart has already committed adultery.”