Pomp and circumstance

Peggy Noonan has an excellent piece in today’s WSJ about the immodesty of some many of our present public officials. Barack (“Honest Abe”) Obama is exhibit A, but Noonan also points to Bill Frist, the Senate’s gang of 14, the Clintons, and Justices Ginsburg and Stevens.
She could easily have added Al (he invented the internet) Gore and John ( “I don’t fall down”) Kerry. Has any party ever nominated in back-to back elections two men as pompous and conceited as these two? I’m having trouble thinking of even one other such presidential candidate.
One of my least favorite expressions is the modern one, “it’s not bragging if you can do it.” Actually, it is bragging if you can do it; if you can’t do it, it’s lying. I’ll leave it to our readers to determine which (or how many) of these two categories Gore and Kerry fall into. Suffice it to say that President Bush, a modest personality, played these two like they were accordions, and almost surely would never have become President Bush had Gore been half a twist less conceited.
Younger readers may wonder whether the past differed significantly in this regard. I hope this piece I wrote two years ago about John Kennedy will help provide a sense of how differently our leaders used to behave.


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