Overcoming Camelot: From knowing nothing to knowing too much is Gingrich the watershed candidate in terms of our accepting the fallibility of our leaders?

This is what happens when you sling mud in that the public has started to get over the Camelot illusion of leaders being somehow different from the rest of us. With this change, the Nixon lament that when people look at JFK they see what they want to be and when they look at him (being Nixon) they see what they are, is the realization that the purported chasm between a JFK and a Nixon is not as wide as the public once thought and therefore we are becoming more forgiving or tolerant of our leaders’ humanness.

So went my remarks to the CBS News post As S.C. primary dawns, can Romney keep Gingrich at bay?

For me overcoming Camelot, which is the illusion that our leaders are somehow above the baser instincts that can and at times do govern our behavior here on planet earth, occurred during the Kenneth Starr inquiry into the extracurricular activities of Bill Clinton.

Recalling how Clinton, who met JFK as a young man in 1963, had seemed to follow a similar arc model to the nation’s top post I could not help but wonder why Americans were so willing to overlook Kennedy’s infidelities yet frown upon Clinton for the same shortcomings.

Granted, and while Kennedy’s liaisons occurred when the press feeding frenzy was limited to affairs of state as opposed to those of the presidential heart, the paradoxical equity of the question cannot be overlooked.  While some might say that the major difference is that we the public did not hear about Kennedy missteps until long after he was gone could be a determining factor, the truth of the matter is that they both crossed the line of moral and perhaps even societal sensibilities.

This is an interesting question in light of the polls which show that despite having to deal with the random musings of an accusatory ex-wife, Gingrich firmly led and ultimately won the South Carolina primary on Saturday.   It speaks volumes, especially since the contempt of not only Gingrich but the public towards CNN Chief National Correspondent John King for posing a lead question about open marriage at the debate was (and still is) palpable.

What one might reasonably conclude here is that as the public we have removed the last vestiges of the pixie dust from our eyes, and having rend the curtain of leadership illusion, now have a more mature and realistic view of those who seek the top job in the country.

This does not mean that we have inherently lowered our standards – because those who are in the position of leadership do indeed have to work to set an example but, what it does do is provide us with the insight to also be compassionate and therefore better able to measure the cut of a candidate’s jib beyond the superfluous and inevitable disappointment of any shortcomings.

After all, did JFK’s womanizing prevent him from effectively navigating the highly combustible October Missile Crisis?  Would Americans have been more comfortable with Nixon as President at that time?

So what are your thoughts?  Is Gingrich fit to lead and can he win the next Presidential election?



About piblogger

Author and Host of the PI Window on The World Show on Blog Talk Radio. View all posts by piblogger

6 responses to “Overcoming Camelot: From knowing nothing to knowing too much is Gingrich the watershed candidate in terms of our accepting the fallibility of our leaders?

  • mlbnyc

    The question is not about action, but rather, reaction. How does the Prominent Figure react when confronted with accusations that they know are based in fact.

    in Kennedy’s case, we’ll never know as he was never confronted by the media regarding his personal behaviors. Clinton, like Nixon (and Herman Cain) chose to lie, to heap denial upon denial, to obfuscate in hopes that the issue would blow over.

    I think the public at large is very tolerant of human foibles of it’s leaders, but extremely intolerant of being misled, assumed as clueless or not worthy of the truth.

    In Gingrich’s case, he’s been forthcoming for the most part. The unknown at present is the most recent accusation inre “open marriage”. As this is a he said/she said situation, some will choose to follow the “vengeful ex’ model and give him a pass, others will see it as denial/coverup and won’t. How many of each will be determined at the ballot box and will probably vary by jurisdiction/ local mores.

  • piblogger

    Interesting observation regarding the opportunity to respond but, I go back to an earlier point . . . during Kennedy’s era the press focused more on the business of running the country as opposed to the personal life of the President.

    I am an admirer of JFK but let’s face it, had he been scrutinized by today’s press besides the womanizing, the fact that he suffered from Addison’s and received injections of a powerful concoction for his back that if not rendering him incoherent limited his cognitive perception, I dare say that he would have never even had an opportunity at the White House except as a visitor.

  • John Zapata

    I think your insight in this matter drives home a real issue with the American voters. Gingrich is, from an educational and experience perspective, the best candidate to hold the job of president. However, the media, because it has become a 24hr supplier of drama, has to dwell on anything racy or tittilating. The good news is many people last time voted for the :feel good” president and now can see what happens when a person with absolutley no credentials in politics or management gets the job of President of the U.S. Good luck to Newt or Romney, both of which have the credentials to apply for the job of President.

  • Michael Willis

    Jon W. Hansen posted a question on his LinkedIn page asking if voters have finally stopped believing in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny? Here was my response:

    There’s not a chance in hell that any of the voters have stopped believing in Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny. Here’s why, take a look at the republican debates and how the main stream media has covered them. Fox news has severely dropped hundreds of notches in my book due to there ignoring and making fun of Ron Paul.

    Ron Paul is an extremely intelligent 12-term-congressman who has never flip-flopped on a single thing. He’s as conservative as conservative gets. In the words of Jon Stewart, he is “Tea Party Patient Zero!” If there is anyone who can turn this country around, it is Ron Paul, and we are just ignoring him. Why, cause there’s no dirt to smear on him. He’s not sensational enough. There’s nothing dirty to gossip about to our friends aobut him, and therefore, nobody cares.

    We have equated voting for our president to voting on American Idol. This is rediculous. If there is ANYONE, who can beat Obama, it is Ron Paul. I don’t agree with the man on everything, but ignore him at your peril!

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