Out of the Humidor
From the Print Edition:
Gene Hackman, Sep/Oct 00
I was ecstatic to read your comments regarding the private lives of potential leaders of this country. I have long advocated exactly the same stand you made in your comments. It's too bad the "Powers that Be" will never come to our view as long as we have the best Congress money can buy. After your thoughts, I was carried to even higher levels of political ecstasy when I read the words of the Honorable Jesse Ventura, governor of Minnesota. Why, after years of my believing this and having the support of many of my peers, is there no groundswell of support for honest, capable, but imperfect candidates? I doubt if many of the critics or journalists who wave the flag of pot or sex would be willing to submit their own lives to such scrutiny.
William A. (Bill) Muller III
I can't help but comment on your editor's note in the August 2000 issue. While I agree with many of your points, I think your definition of "youthful indiscretions, or errors in judgment that are the fabric of the human experience" misses the mark. In fact, some of these indiscretions or errors in judgment are quite telling about an individual's honesty and integrity. Anyone who would purposely violate state and federal laws by using narcotics should be viewed as untrustworthy. Anyone who would stand before God and pledge an oath of fidelity to his or her spouse and then turn around and cheat is capable of anything. Who wouldn't they lie to? We must never forget that respect is earned, not bestowed. If someone does make a mistake, repents and asks for forgiveness, they have taken the first step to regaining their integrity.
However, it can take years to regain the same level of trust or respect that they chose to risk. Nearly everything in life is a personal choice, and it is our actions and how we face our "youthful indiscretions and errors in judgment" that develop us into the people we are today. While I certainly don't consider myself "perfectly ethical" or someone who has "never strayed from absolute righteousness," I have learned from my mistakes. I have also learned that there are some choices that can lead to utter self-destruction. I choose to avoid these. Thank you for your thought-provoking articles and furthering my enjoyment of smoking delicious cigars, a risk I choose to accept.
Editor's response: You make our point again. What has happened in this country is that potentially effective leaders who have learned from their youthful mistakes and are not repeating them as adults fear stepping into the political arena because of vicious personal attacks about their past that might come their way.
On the one hand I, too, pine for the day when people of merit and character once again feel secure enough to run for political office. And I agree, in spirit, in a wholehearted fashion to your editorial. I would, however, offer the following: Has it not occurred to anyone yet as to why people with courage and quality do not run for political office much anymore? It would appear that the country is finally waking up to the painful reality that empty suits in the Congress and White House are making policy and laws. It goes well beyond the scrutiny of politicos by the media and points directly to the deep pockets of political pundits hell-bent to undermine their enemies.