You may recall that when he was New Jersey governor, Jon Corzine almost lost his life in a car accident after going 91 miles per hour without wearing a seatbelt.
Is it any wonder that as CEO of MF Global Holdings Ltd., Corzine made a risky bet and wildly over-leveraged the company, resulting in its bankruptcy?
You may also remember that Fred Thompson was widely known as a lazy senator.
“I’ve been friendly with Thompson for years,” Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund said on The Journal Editorial Report. In the Senate, Fund said, Thompson “had a reputation for being a little lazy.”
Is it any wonder that Thompson’s presidential bid fizzled after it turned out he hated campaigning and would often cancel appearances at the last minute?
Richard Nixon engaged in ethical violations that he addressed in his so-called Checkers speech. That he would later become involved in the Watergate cover-up should have come as no surprise.
Voters ignored Barack Obama’s lack of experience and the fact that he listened to the anti-white, anti-America, anti-Israel hate speech of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. for 20 years. Now the country has a massive case of buyer’s remorse.
We now know that Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain has been accused by four women of sexually harassing them. Cain’s defenders have grabbed at every excuse known to man to defend him.
In embracing Cain’s criticism of the media for reporting the charges against him, Newt Gingrich told NBC’s “Today,” “What does it mean to the elite news media that nobody in the country ever walks up to us and raises the questions you raise?”
In the same manner, political reporters often fixate on atmospherics. They obsess about who is ahead in the polls, how they comb their hair, and how slickly candidates handle charges against them, rather than focusing on what matters first and foremost: character.
Character is who we are. Presidents and presidential candidates are real people. And as with any human beings, character failings will eventually reveal themselves.
As noted in my book “In the President’s Secret Service: Behind the Scenes with Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect,” because Secret Service agents are sworn to secrecy, voters rarely know what their presidents, vice presidents, and presidential candidates are really like. If they did, says a former Secret Service agent, “They would scream.”
“You just shake your head when you think of all the things you’ve heard and seen and the faith that people have in these celebrity-type people,” a former Secret Service agent says. “They are probably worse than most average individuals.” He adds, “Americans have such an idealized notion of the presidency and the virtues that go with it, honesty and so forth. In most cases, that’s the furthest thing from the truth....If we would pay attention to their track records, it’s all there. We seem to put blinders on ourselves and overlook these frailties.”
If a friend, an electrician, a plumber, or a job applicant had a track record of acting unethically, lying, or displaying the kind of unbalanced personality of a Nixon or former President Johnson, few would want to deal with him. Yet in the case of presidents and other politicians, voters often overlook the signs of poor character and focus instead on their acting ability on TV.
No one can imagine the kind of pressure that being president of the U.S. imposes on an individual and how easily power corrupts. To be in command of the most powerful country on earth, to be able to fly anywhere at a moment’s notice on Air Force One, to be able to grant almost any wish, to take action that affects the lives of millions, is such a heady, intoxicating experience that only people with the most stable personalities and well-developed values can handle it.
Simply inviting a friend to a White House party or having a secretary place a call and announce that “the White House is calling” has such a profound effect on recipients that presidents and White House aides must constantly remind themselves that they are mortal.
Unless a president comes to the office with good character, the crushing force of the office and the adulation the chief executive receives will inevitably lead to disaster. For those reasons, the electorate has a right to know the true character of its leaders and has an obligation to evaluate them as they would any job applicant. Republicans ignore signs of poor character at their peril.
Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. He is a New York Times best-selling author of books on the Secret Service, FBI, and CIA. His latest, "The Secrets of the FBI," has just been published. View his previous reports and get his dispatches sent to you free via email. Go Here Now.
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