Grace and Candor Under Pressure
"I think that one of the things we need from our people who are running for office is not this pretense of perfection. And the reality is all of us that run for public office, whether it's governor, legislator, mayor, president, we are all human beings. If we haven't made mistakes, don't vote for us. Cause we got some big ones that are gonna happen in the future and we won't know how to handle them."
--Rudy Giuliani, November 20, 2007, reacting to Barack Obama's acknowledgment that he used drugs as a young man.
The afterglow of the holiday season makes this a good time to award some more Geppetto checkmarks. Don't worry. I will be back to my crotchety old self tomorrow.
My first Geppetto checkmark went to John McCain a couple of weeks ago for his stylish attack on Hillary Clinton and her support of a Woodstock museum. McCain's riposte--"I was tied up at the time"--earned points for both truthfulness and memorability. With that standard in mind, I am awarding a Geppetto checkmark to Rudy Giuliani for his impassioned defense of imperfection in politics.<
p>In a way, the former New York mayor is making a virtue out of necessity in his pursuit of the "imperfect" vote. His long track record suggests that he is the imperfect boss, the imperfect conservative, the imperfect husband. By acknowledging his imperfections, he is immunizing himself against criticism, to some extent. That said, his candor is still refreshing.
I have been critical of Giuliani in the past for twisting the facts on health care and his own record as mayor of New York City. But in a world in which candidates for president can be brought down by the slightest admission of imperfection, I award Giuliani a Geppetto checkmark for his honesty.
"My understanding was that she wasn't treasury secretary in the Clinton administration."
--Barack Obama, replying to Clinton charge that he lacks the "experience" needed to become president, November 19, 2007.
"People are not attacking me because I am a woman. They are attacking me because I am ahead."
--Hillary Clinton, Democratic debate in Las Vegas, November 15, 2007.
Obama came up with an elegant--and truthful--put-down to Clinton's taunts of inexperience. The junior senator from New York has been arguing that she will not require "on-the-job training" as president, in contrast to her leading rivals, notably Obama. Clinton has been presenting herself as the candidate best prepared to clean up the economic mess left behind by the Republicans, but the truth is that she has never had much executive responsibility, let alone run a major government department. Most of her "experience" in government has been by virtue of her marriage.
After a couple of weeks playing defense after a poor debate performance, Clinton scored points in Las Vegas with a memorable, and accurate, analysis of the current state of the Democratic presidential race. In two succinct sentences, she reminded viewers why she remains the front-runner, and the core strengths of her candidacy. She found a way of playing the gender card without whining that the boys were ganging up on her. The lady is tough and, for now at least, she is a winner.
For grace--and truthfulness--under pressure, I award Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama each a Geppetto checkmark.
| November 26, 2007; 6:00 AM ET
Categories: Barack Obama, Candidate Record, Candidate Watch, Geppetto's Checkmark
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