Guts, Blinking and the Work Ethic
George W. Bush, it is said, likes to trust in his gut feeling. Sarah Palin believes the test of a good leader is if he or she blinks when faced with a tough challenge. Anyone who seeks to lead the free world has got to harbor a big dose of chutzpah, but it's now abundantly clear that not all guts are created equal. Given the nation's vulnerability to poor leadership, it's time to expand the definition of guts beyond raw courage.
In evaluating candidates, ask if they exhibit solidity and courage, but also ask if their guts have an appetite for knowledge and wisdom, if they have digested history, will stomach dissent from their advisors, and extract the best from diverse viewpoints. When faced with a tough challenge, like developing a serviceable familiarity with policy, history, economics and science, have they stepped up to the plate or taken a pass?
In the 1980's, much was made of abuses of government welfare programs, in which people would work the system so they could live high off government handouts without doing any work. The question now is whether we should expect our leaders to have a work ethic--to study up and burn the midnight oil--or simply reward them with power and government salaries based on their folksy demeanors.