The madness of men…
Posted May 20, 2015on:
Sunday evening was the final installment of Mad Men. I admit to being an aficionado of the show and the era, but mostly of the women portrayed. Peggy and Joan were the only characters who passed the beer test for me – people with whom I would have liked to spend time. Their success was never doubtful, both professionally and more importantly, personally.
Those are two things you can’t say about any of the male characters. Peter Campbell would have looked good strapped to a Firestone test tire on a very fast car. Roger Sterling, as glib and entertaining as the character was, put the “d” in debauchery and was morally agnostic except when it came to his personal pleasure. Bert Cooper’s grandfatherly facade hid a heart only stirred by the aroma of cold, hard cash.
And then there was Don Draper – an amoral drunk whose behavior described the term “man whore” before there was such a term. Don’s efforts at being authentic were defined around his success at being a fraud. Whether as a father, husband, soldier, or just an average human, Don’s endeavors at being genuine were merely artifices of fraud.
There’s a learning there and I’m reminded of what John Lennon said, “I don’t want to be a loud-mouthed, poet musician, but I can’t be what I’m not.” This has always been a hard lesson for me particularly when it is a teaching tenet in leadership development. Translated, the rule means: Be authentic even if authenticity is grossly unappealing. Being inauthentic fools no one and is just one colossus waste of energy. You can’t be what you’re not, even if what you are is a fraud.
That lesson came to mind with the difficulty the Republican candidates are having with what ought to be the simple question of, “If you knew then what we know now, would you have authorized the Iraq invasion?” A question first posed by Fox – not exactly a forum for Republican “gotcha questions”.
Invading Iraq has been soundly rejected by conservative opinion leaders like George Will as the single worst foreign policy decision in the history of the nation, but there are others who believe, like Bill Kristol, the Iraq invasion was the right thing to do. Both Will and Kristol can’t be what they’re not – one grasping at logical congruence, the other unable to admit one of many, many errors about – well, just about everything.
Jeb Bush, at first in answering the question, couldn’t be disloyal to his brother, Marco Rubio couldn’t be disloyal to his potential billionaire funder, and Rand Paul, the only candidate on the other side of the Iraq War issue, would never disregard his father’s philosophy – unless it was first politically expedient to do so. They can’t be what they’re not – Jeb, a loyal brother stained with the taint of family, Marco, a pandering, political man-child looking for a sugar daddy, and Rand, the inheritor of basement-dwelling anarchists pining for the chaos libertarianism would loose on society.
Then there’s John McCain who never saw a war that didn’t titillate or Lady Lindsey who parrots him with great pleasure and almost a genetic consistency, “me too John” – they can’t be what they’re not.
For these people and others like them, authenticity means ignoring the lessons of thirteen-years, trillions of dollars, and the utter waste of hundreds of thousands of lives from the Iraq folly of conservative adventurism masquerading as foreign policy. Being genuine for those romanticizing American colonialism is an exercise in disguising the motives of their foreign policy advisers, many of whom were the architects masterminding the Iraq War – resurrected like cicadas awakening to again plague us with their very existence.
As much as we would like to believe the Iraq War and the new threat of ISIS is purely and exclusively attributable to Republicans, no one in the world-at-large draws such a fine distinction. The scourge of the Iraq War is an American badge of dishonor and failure — equally shared and worn by all of us for what was done in our name.
Of this I’m sure: There is only one thing worse than being lied into a war and that is ignoring the truth when someone says they didn’t learn anything from it and they would do it all over again — only this time in Iran. They just can’t be what they’re not.
Have a great Wednesday and take this conversation in any direction you might like.
17 Responses to "The madness of men…"
Comments are closed.