There was a poignant column in this morning's Wall Street Journal. Written by Taylor B. Stockdale, the son of the last unknown candidate for the Vice Presidency, it states an understanding of what the Palin family is going through. It is headlined Debates Don't Always Reveal Character.
That is very true but in looking at his father compared to Sarah Palin, and John McCain for that matter, the debates can show a lack of character.
For those of you scratching your head wondering who the heck I'm talking about, let me refresh your memory. It was 1992, Ross Perot was running for President and asked John Stockdale to be his running mate. Stockdale reluctantly accepted, feeling indebted to Perot for the aid he had extended to he and his family while he was a prisoner of war in Vietnam. He was most noted for looking somewhat overwhelmed by the circumstance and saying "Who am I? Why am I here?" Many heard nor saw anything else.
He was elderly at the time or at least appeared to be. He was not a practiced politician and I never forgave Ross Perot for putting him in a position that drew little but criticism and ridicule.
So who was this man? An Admiral and Medal of Honor recipient. A fighter pilot. A husband and a father.
He was also a prisoner of war for eight years who maimed himself to prevent the North Vietnamese from parading him around for propaganda purposes. A fellow prisoner at the Hanoi Hilton was one John McCain.
This is a case where the debates did not do justice to this particular candidate, but I do not recall his ever having used his being a prisoner of war as a reason to be heard, what's more elected along with Perot. Politics was not where his ambitions took him. He had no need to tout his war experiences nor exaggerate his know how for the sake of getting elected.
Today's candidates would do well to look back at this man, who he was and what he was and how he has been remembered. Along with that, a bit of introspection might also be useful. Not all people with good character make good candidates and not all candidates have particularly good character.