by Mark Rhoads
Well that didn’t take long. Not a single vote has yet been cast in any primary election, but Newt Gingrich could not help himself and on the basis of just a few good poll numbers, he told ABC News that he will be the nominee. I completely understand that anyone who runs for president has to have a fairly healthy ego to start with. But just an ounce of humility wears so much better over time.
Reality check: Newt Gingrich has never in his life been elected from any geographic area larger than a small congressional district in Georgia. The biggest worry about the Gingrich statement to ABC News is that it harkens back to the Gingrich who became the new Speaker of the House in January of 1995, taking over after 40 years of Democratic majorities. It is fundamental in public relations that you only get one chance to introduce yourself for the first time. Gingrich imploded in ego stroking.
In 1962, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, who certainly had a large ego himself, told the cadets at West Point that they should always be serious in their profession of arms, but never take themselves too seriously. I am tired of candidates who only can offer a résumé, a mastery of policy wonk papers, or spell binding oratory without a record to match. I would like to see a humble servant with a servant’s heart share a vision for America as a special place as it has always been in past times, even when it fell short of the highest goals that were set. One reason Americans preferred Dwight Eisenhower and Omar Bradley to MacArthur and George Patton was that Ike and Bradley wanted their troops to get the credit but MacArthur and Patton often were seeking glory for themselves on the dubious theory that they could be a better leaders if people were in awe of them.
If you sum up the total accomplishments in life of all these GOP candidates, including the business accomplishments of Romney, they do not amount to enough to be arrogant about. But they do amount to much more than the total accomplishments of Obama and Biden.
Arrogance will backfire on candidates every single time.
(Published in longer form in Illinois Review.)