Poor Chuck Hagel. Every day, the Wall Street Journal wallops the fellow. He is whacked for not knowing what he is doing… smacked for not appreciating the threat of a nuclear Iran… and slapped hard for not bending over quickly enough to kiss neo-con butts.
John McCain and Lindsey Graham went to work on him in the Senate. They went at it clumsily and disgracefully – like a pair of goons with lead pipes. And then, in the WSJ, Dorothy Rabinowitz hammered him on Monday; she was so hysterical we couldn’t follow what she was talking about. On Tuesday, Brett Stephens took over…and began pounding away in a more usual, ham-fisted way.
We’re enjoying the show. McCain and Graham acted like thugs. Still, it’s amusing and gratifying to watch a man like Hagel get beaten up. Too bad we couldn’t watch the same sport when Hillary Clinton was put up for the job! Hillary actually deserved it.
Those who would presume to meddle should have their own mettle tested first. In addition to getting roughly handled by the press and the politicians, candidates for any post – elected or appointed – should have to bear certain ordeals, to test their courage and their resolve.
These should be designed not to reveal weaknesses or shortcomings, but merely to allow the man (or woman) to demean himself in petty and irrelevant ways. For example, a candidate for the Secretary of the Treasury might have to fish a wedding ring from the bottom of a Manhattan sewer. A mayoral candidate might be locked out of his house…stark naked…just to see how he handled the situation.
This actually happened to our old friend and colleague Dan Denning. He had just moved to Paris. Somehow he got locked out of his apartment, with just a towel around his waist. He had no phone. No money. And he didn’t even speak French. All he knew was that there was another set of keys on the other side of the city.
Situations like that build character. But that is not why we propose them for prospective leaders. Instead, we just want to humiliate and discourage them. Maybe they’ll think twice before offering leadership.
These otherwise pointless ordeals will also help to eliminate candidates. Anyone with so little dignity as to submit to them isn’t worthy of the office. And if he refuses, he should be denied the office too; because he hasn’t been willing to comply with the requirements.
The point is, the world needs a lot fewer leaders than it has. Most of the time, people go about their business with no need for the expense and distraction of leadership. That is true in businesses as well as government. A leader just gets in the way, wasting everyone’s time and energy.