Hubris has been in abundant supply at both presidential debates and one suspects that the honking sounds at next week’s third debate will be both candidates tooting their own horn. If this election is as close as polls indicate, the first candidate displaying any sincere evidence of humility might gain the advantage with that dwindling group of undecided voters.
How many times did President Obama and Gov. Romney use the first person singular pronoun in their appearances? To listen to each man one would conclude that these two wise and omniscient super humans have built, saved and preserved American civilization. Their words and actions border on swagger, arrogance and grandiosity.
What would have happened in the Tuesday town meeting when President Obama was asked about our government’s response to the attack on our embassy in Libya, if he had answered, “We were confused for awhile in a fast-moving situation and I have had many sleepless nights replaying the weeks leading up to that terrible day, asking for forgiveness for my own failings and seeking wisdom. Here are a few of the things I’ve learned…”
What would have happened in that debate when President Obama was told by a once-enthusiastic voter that he was now less sure of an Obama candidacy, if the president had confessed, “Yes, it’s been a tough four years, and though I can rightfully blame some of it on former President Bush and things beyond my control, I’ve learned a lot from sitting in the White House. Here are three mistakes I’ve made and what I’ve learned from them going forward that will help me in the next four years ...”
What would have happened when Gov. Romney was attacked for having taken various positions that he has now disowned, if he would have said, “I do admit to having said and thought those things in the heat of a primary election to separate myself from my opponents. It’s something every office seeker does, and I succumbed to the temptation as well. I’m not particularly proud of it, but it’s a part of the game we play to gain our party’s nomination.”
What would have happened if Gov. Romney, when given ample opportunity to separate himself from President Obama’s leadership style, would have said, “Running for president gives one a huge temptation to promise the moon. I have a plan for how to turn this nation around, but I don’t want to make it sound like I’m holding four aces. With all due humility, my plan could fail for any number of reasons. President Obama made promises, too, with the best of intentions and some of his plans worked better than others. The same will undoubtedly happen if you elect me.”
Neither political party will ever hire me as a campaign adviser, but this pastor notes that both candidates’ claim to be religious persons isn’t matched by their display of debate humility.
Contact the Rev. Creede Hinshaw at firstname.lastname@example.org.