Profiles in personality
Ezra Klein at the American Prospect recounts a character-revealing moment for Barack Obama. Bill Richardson was inattentive at a public forum and didn't hear the moderator's question. Then the turn to answer came to him. Here's what happened next ...
I had just been asked a question -- I don't remember which one -- and Obama was sitting right next to me. Then the moderator went across the room, I think to Chris Dodd, so I thought I was home free for a while. I wasn't going to listen to the next question. I was about to say something to Obama when the moderator turned to me and said, 'So, Gov. Richardson, what do you think of that?' But I wasn't paying any attention! I was about to say, 'Could you repeat the question? I wasn't listening.' But I wasn't about to say I wasn't listening. I looked at Obama. I was just horrified. And Obama whispered, 'Katrina. Katrina.' The question was on Katrina! So I said, 'On Katrina, my policy . . .' Obama could have just thrown me under the bus. So I said, 'Obama, that was good of you to do that.'
We all remember moments like that from our school days. At least I do. Tigerhawk asks whether one could imagine Hillary (or Rudy Giuliani) whispering hints to a rival caught in a spot like that.
The Anchoress, for her part, recalls an illuminating moment in the career of President Bush. The Secret Service Agent assigned to him was being physically prevented from following him past a security cordon during a function overseas. Here's what happened next.
The image of public figures is often a carefully constructed artifice. Unguarded moments provide a momentary glimpse past the cartoon facade into the real man. That glance often reveals a complex picture. The video showing Saddam Hussein's stolid last moments as he mounted the scaffold illustrate that blackguard though he was, the former president of Iraq was no coward.
Fyodor Dostoevsky wrote, "Man is a mystery: if you spend your entire life trying to puzzle it out, then do not say that you have wasted your time."