The fully developed leader

November 17, 2000

A couple things.

Watching Gore make his proposal yesterday afternoon (EST) I was reminded of my 5th grade teacher. She was as phony as a three dollar bill in that she had no real, fully developed character. She was around 40 years old and her persona was stillborn. She was a nun. I was the only non-catholic in the class, and one of a very few in the school.

She was also an asshole. I called her bluff one day. I told her to go to hell. She called me up to the front of the class and slapped me hard. I told her to go to hell again. I was sent to the principal who calmed everything down (until my mother got involved). It all ended, not well, but it ended.

My 4th grade teacher was also a nun at the same school. Sister Anthony Marie (vs: Sister Regis). She was about 28 and was the first fully grown woman I ever fell in love with.

Gore may not be an asshole but his presentation yesterday created an image of a man whose intellect is not directly connected to his message or to his target. He was a marionet pulling his own strings. The connection to the nun is that he also was not real.

Bush, Jr. presented his response in a drastically different way. I watched carefully as he strode up to the podium and began to speak. I was with him. He seemed clean in that he intended to connect with the viewer with what he was thinking rather than what he felt we needed to hear.

Alas, he was reading a speech written for him. About 1/3 to 1/2 of the way through I found it impossible to focus on his words and was instead distracted by his struggle to deliver them. I failed to hear at least the last half of his response to Gore and was, finally, embarrassed for him.

But he was much closer to Sister Anthony Marie than to Sister Regis.

Neither of these men should have a mandate of any kind.

We’ll have to wait a while for another leader who deserves, or commands, a mandate.

Let’s see if we agree on these guys: [1] F.D. Roosevelt, the recipient of three mandates in a row [2] Dwight Eisenhower, a fully developed man, a general [3] John Kennedy, fully developed if scary as hell [3] Gerald Ford, fully developed and might have been a great high school coach [4] Ronald Reagan, fully developed and one cool dude.

I do not consider Richard Nixon a fully developed man at the time of his presidency since he needed the presidency to complete the process. Likewise Jimmy Carter. Have I missed someone? Oh yes, George Bush, Sr., fully developed.

William Clinton, fully developed.

The “fully developed” men had personas which were ironclad before election.

Obviously I’m not comparing value. I’m comparing only the extent to which the individuals were fully developed before assuming, or even running for, the presidency.

Gore seems to be playing a role and is caught up in virtual reality. Bush, Jr. seems to want with all his heart to be fully developed, but isn’t.

Who’s out there in the wings? The Newt? Any offspring of Al Simpson?

By the outcome of this election, and specifically by the way it has become clearly deadlocked, I’m comforted by the apparent fact that the American voter is fully aware and is essentially saying: no mandate this time; we’ll wait.

Too cool.

As an aside, I’ve been watching Dick Cheney in his few reluctant TV appearances and am moved by what I see as his latent desire to be somewhere else, to be doing something else.

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