12 September 2007


A man at the bank was lauding the "great leadership" displayed by a former (as in dead) local mayor saying "There was a never a scandal around him."

I hope the bank is profiting from this idiot's feeble-mindedness.

Great leaders and scandals are not--read My lips, not--mutually exclusive. Let's examine this:

The man in the bank sees "no scandals" as evidence of great leadership. In olden days, one could reasonably equate a lack of scandal with moral rectitude and this could, in some cases. be construed as great leadership. Jump forward to the late 20th century, when media and multimedia pry into every corner and you find that Gandhi slept (as in snoring) with nubile girls, F.D.R. had a mistress, J.F.K. had numerous affairs and both Churchill and Lincoln were manic-depressives who sought to end their lives. Scandals? Maybe. Revealed in their day? No way.

Did great leaders of the past have scandals in their lives? Yes, almost all did. Does this make them less great as leaders? No. It simply makes them human.

So why are We lacking great leaders now? Is it, as the befuddled man in the bank believes, because of the enormous propensity and range of scandals We see and hear about almost daily, from fraud to corruption to sex crimes to outright criminal activity? Partially. But there's much more that that.

As for scandals and great leadership, here's the bottom line: Scandals arise from improper decisions and behavior and from the attention others place on that activity. That last bit is italicized for a reason: It makes all the difference in the world. Man A drops his pants in an airport bathroom and implies a desire for a connection (I'm smirking right now) and nobody gives a damn. Let Man A be called--oh, I don't know, say...Larry Craig--and suddenly it's a scandal. It's not just the action, it's also the reaction. And where there's more attention, there's more chance for somebody, somewhere to cry "Scandal!"

In many cases, the cry is legitimate; in many others, it is not. The ratio depends on your point of view in each case. But here's where scandal and great leadership do collide: Great leaders may have personal scandals, but stay above-board in their roles as leaders. And there's a world of difference between a personal scandal and one that involves the country at large. The first are opprobious, but seldom criminal: The second are almost always both.

For example, great leaders don't lie to benefit a few and harm the many, as in the case of the current war in Iraq. The murderous moron earned his moniker with that one.

Great leaders don't rely on polls, surveys or vox populi to make the difficult decisions, for those who do are listening only to what they want to hear.

Great leaders don't excuse their incompetence with "History will judge me" vapidity: History is now and great leaders always know that.

Great leaders take responsibility, and in the this new age of "I'm a victim," leaders who play this card simply cannot--cannot--be great.

In a perfect world, a great leader would be without scandal. But We don't live in a perfect world, and where one man's hobby is another man's scandal, avoiding scandal is a slippery ledge. No scandals in a career? Rah. But great leadership depends on what the person has done beyond that. So when I asked the man what great works the "great" mayor had done, he couldn't come up with any. Just that: No scandals.

So a man was elected to a position of ostensible leadership, spent nearly 7 seven years there and left no true mark, good or bad. That is great leadership?

Obviously not. My standards, unlike that of the Department of Education, do not "come down" in order to preserve some image of excellence. The standards remain high: What has come down is the quality of those who pursue leadership, seduced by the empty fate of media hyperattention and enslaved to their id(iocy.)

Come to think of it, that is the perfect formula for... more scandals.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

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