In 1976 the media culture, newly experimenting with public talking cures, helped foster a more interesting kind of self-pity (farewell to Nixon's antique and unconvincing “I'm not a crook”). In 1976 we had Betty Ford, the outgoing First Lady who later would confess to substance abuse. And we had a new president who would confess to lust — at a time when this was unprecedented and not yet required by the attorney general's office.
Indeed, Jimmy Carter's 1976 grassroots presidential campaign brought us something new, and not just double-digit inflation and soaring interest rates. A president so deeply well intentioned — a president in denim — was something this country had never seen before. For Jimmy Carter, the denim may have been a statement, but it wasn't yet a cynical costume. For that we needed Reagan. Then Bush, then Lamar Alexander. For Bill Clinton, apparently, clothing itself was a cynical costume.
Lorrie Moore, on her favorite year, for GQ, December 1999.