Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A paradox. . .

There are some who insist that the problem with the campaigns of McCain and Romney was a lack of fire.  They did not have to be President.  In fact, it often seemed that they disliked the whole idea of running, disdained the required rites and rules that accompanied the running.  They may have wanted it in some way but, perhaps, not badly enough.  In contrast, Obama wanted it.  He had wanted it for a long time and could barely wait for a couple of years in the purgatory of the Senate before taking off in pursuit of his crown jewel.  The complaint against Obama is that he is still running and has yet to stop campaigning and to begin governing in earnest. 

I will leave it to others to parse the truthfulness of these observations.  I am not the first to make them and they are not original to me.  All I will say is that the ability to marshal a campaign staff, to obtain the capital necessary to run, and the gifts to make that run successful are not necessarily good predictors of the winner's success as president.  It may be said that many of those who ran and lost would have been far better leaders than then ones we elected.  Again, hard to prove but thoroughly interesting.

Now gathered in Rome are the princes of the Roman Catholic Church beginning their pursuit of a new Pope.  Among the lists of papabili are all kinds and sorts of men but the ones given the worst odds of obtaining this office are those who want it most of all.  Benedict XVI seemed in many ways a reluctant Pope, one who accepted but did not seek the office, one more conscious of its cost than its gift, and, from the beginning, seemed to know that there would be a day when he must leave for the good of the Church.  Now the pressures of the office have taken their toll on him and with memory of John Paul II and his long, slow, death of suffering, Benedict has written history by abdicating.  In remarkable humility, he has sought a solitary life for his remaining years.

I find it so very interesting that the fire in the belly that we seek from those who would be President of the USA is the very unspoken disqualifier for someone who would be Pope.  It is as if the Roman Catholic Church seeks to find the best candidate who does not want to Pope as the one who must be Pope.  Now I have no way of knowing who or how many have been elected and refused to utter the word accepto.   Perhaps few, perhaps many, perhaps none.  But I grew up with this idea in my head.  Even Lutherans watch movies like The Shoes of the Fisherman (1968) when Anthony Quinn played a reluctant Cardinal thrust into an office that both humbled him and frightened him.

We do not have anything remotely like the means or the history of Rome in electing people to lead us Lutherans.  But the principle remains that too often those who seek the office are those on whom the office should never fall...

1 comment:

Carl Vehse said...

"We do not have anything remotely like the means or the history of Rome in electing people to lead us Lutherans."

In the Missouri Synod, it's slightly more subtle, with mass mailings to pastors, and especially to delegates. Today there are also dedicated internet sites and blogs supporting incumbants and other candidates.

Yes, we don't have any white smoke coming from a chimney on top of the Purple Palace every three years.

Oh!... and we don't have red shoes for the winner.