How to pick a Leader

'Virtue is a suite of values-soaked abilities that in active combination form a person's character and give shape to a life. Our choices and actions both reveal and reinforce our character. You cannot judge whether a person will be a good leader—a good President—without knowing and evaluating his or her character—how life has stamped or marked them...

Let's start with the virtue perhaps most universally acknowledged and admired: courage. In premodern times, the courage of a leader often had to be physical. In the last 500 years it is more often moral. Moral courage is the ability to do what's right even when it is deeply unpopular, even dangerous. Courage is only found where there is the genuine possibility of loss—loss of friends, reputation, status, power, possessions, or, at the extremes, freedom or life.'

- Daniel Taylor & Mark McCloskey, 'How to Pick a President'.

Comments

deepti said…
Would it make a President, or for that matter, any leader, any less competent or effective if he were immoral? Is it necessary that a president, who is really a politician to begin with, be an example for the rest of the nation? if he did turn out to be immoral(who decides??), is that enough to take away his presidency?
Prof.Ray Titus said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Prof.Ray Titus said…
Deepti,

Thought this is relevant as an answer....

'Leftists frequently complain that right-wing morality is simplistic. Morality is relative, they say; nuanced, complex. They're wrong, of course, even on their own terms.

Left and right, all Americans know that freedom is better than slavery, that love is better than hate, kindness better than cruelty, tolerance better than bigotry. We don't always know how we know these things, and yet mysteriously we know them nonetheless.

The true complexity arises when we must defend these values in a world that does not universally embrace them -- when we reach the place where we must be intolerant in order to defend tolerance, or unkind in order to defend kindness, or hateful in order to defend what we love.

When heroes arise who take those difficult duties on themselves, it is tempting for the rest of us to turn our backs on them, to vilify them in order to protect our own appearance of righteousness. We prosecute and execrate the violent soldier or the cruel interrogator in order to parade ourselves as paragons of the peaceful values they preserve. As Gary Oldman's Commissioner Gordon says of the hated and hunted Batman, "He has to run away -- because we have to chase him."

That's real moral complexity. And when our artistic community is ready to show that sometimes men must kill in order to preserve life; that sometimes they must violate their values in order to maintain those values; and that while movie stars may strut in the bright light of our adulation for pretending to be heroes, true heroes often must slink in the shadows, slump-shouldered and despised -- then and only then will we be able to pay President Bush his due and make good and true films about the war on terror.'

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121694247343482821.html?mod=opinion_main_commentaries

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