A forgetful gentleman just finished reading Game Change, the #1 New York Times Bestseller about the 2008 presidential elections, and was struck by the way in which our nation’s leaders epitomize the definition of a forgetful gentleman: a classy, sophisticated modern man whose busy lifestyle interferes with his well-intentioned plans.
Every candidate's actions were constantly in conflict with their intentions.
Run for president because it’s best for the country, and eventually it serves to feed their massive egos.
Pledge to run a clean campaign out of the gate, then start throwing mud when the poll numbers drop.
Build personal relationships when raising money or working with the press, then throw these people under the bus when something goes wrong.
The behaviors listed above were common among all candidates. I’ve outlined below a few more of the everyday characteristics among the ’08 candidates that describe this common discrepancy between good intentions and execution.
The Good Intentions
Do what’s best for the country – Each candidate, to their very core, felt like they would be the best person for the job. In fact, that was the one piece of advice Bill Clinton shared to Hillary before running.
Work hard – These candidates were campaigning 18 hours a day, 7 days a week. They wanted it bad! McCain’s herculean efforts at his age were impressive. Hillary’s refusal to quitwas inspiring. But then again, Guiliani and Fred Thompson were lazy, which led to their quick concessions.
Articulate – The candidates re-engaged America through the spoken word. That’s a tough thing to do these days. By the end of the campaign, Obama was giving speeches in front of 80,000 people around the country. I think the best speech of the election was Obama's "race speech" in Philadelphia.
Knowledgeable – With a 24 hour news cycle, these candidates were remarkably well versed about the world. Hillary’s experience and Obama’s meticulous preparation stand out.
Swearing – Given how articulate and knowledgeable these candidates are, can’t they find other words? It was shocking how many curse words were commonly tossed around. Especially McCain’s bitter fights with his wife, in front of dozens of people, when they'd be swearing at eachother.
Mudslinging – When the going gets tough, the mud starts flying. It’s not very gentlemanly. Consider McCain's ad comparing Obama to Paris Hilton. Every campaign was guilty of this to some degree.
Ego – These candidates devour the media attention that is given them, especially Palin, who would spend her "prep time" before major debates and speeches reading blogs about her instead.
Tardiness – Thousands of people waiting around at campaigns for the candidates to arrive. In fact, Obama’s staffers were especially pleased when the secret service began travelling with Obama because it ended his terrible habit of being tardy.
I definitely encourage anyone interested in politics to read the book. At the very least, you get to read about high profile leaders be forgetful gentlemen.