FRAMESHOP:FRAMESHOP: A SHORT LIST OF BIG IDEAS

After listening to Patrick Fitzgerald's press conference on Friday afternoon, many Americans are thinking the same two thoughts. President Bush and his White house have so completely squandered the public trust, that the time has come for Americans to talk...

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Jeffrey Feldman, Editor-in-Chief
Frameshop, 10/30/2005

After listening to Patrick Fitzgerald's press conference on Friday afternoon, many Americans are thinking the same two thoughts.

President Bush and his White house have so completely squandered the public trust, that the time has come for Americans to talk about the qualities we demand in our leaders.

When was the last time you turned to someone--anyone--and said, "These are the qualities I expect from our nation's leaders," and then told them?  Not lately?  Me either.

Start with a short list of big ideas.

Before you drum up your list, you may want to take a look at the video of Friday's press conference (it can be viewed on this page).  It is a startling performance precisely because Patrick Fitzgerald, Special Counsel hired to investigate potential harm perpetrated against the American people, seems to embody many of the qualities of leadership that Americans demand--but that have been noticeably absent for some time.

Those qualities are:

  1. Plain Spoken:  While divulging an incredibly complicated case, Fitzgerald was neither convoluted or repetitious in his presentation.  His presentation was not cluttered with noticeable catch phrases and peculiar gestures.  He stood at the podium, the way any citizen would stand, and spoke to the audience.

  2. Sincere:  Rarely anymore do we see a public official who is responsible for affairs of great importance speak as if his words are truly his. Fitzgerald spoke without notes, but he also spoke without any aparent agenda.  He did not circle back to talking points.  He did not praise or criticize other politicians in obscure, peculiar ways.  What he said, we believed.

  3. Capable:  Many Americans cannot remember the last time we heard a public official speak in a way that demonstrated expertise uncluttered by alliegiances.   We have grown accustomed to our most capable experts compromising themselves through thinly veiled gestures to those who hold office.  Patrick Fitzgerald presented the facts, process and importance of the Libby indictment and the investigation into the CIA leak with the calm, assuring expertise of a person whose first priority is the truth.

  4. Responsive:  It was remarkable--gripping--to watch a powerful, public official take questions from a diverse audience and really respond.  Patrick Fitzgerald did that.  He listened, and he responded.  Americans have long forgotten what it feels like to listen to an official--elected or appointed--who responds to the people. 

I do not know what political views Patrick Fitzgerald holds about the war or the economy or any other issue, and if Patrick Fitzgerald ran for national office I have no idea if I would vote for him or not.  But I do know--without question--that watching him on Friday brought a revelation for millions of Americans, and the revelation was this:

We do not admire our leaders.

We want--we need--leaders that we admire. We need them at a state level, and at the national level.  We need them in the House, the Senate and in the White House.  We do not need to like them, agree with them--but we need them to embody the qualities of leadership that we demand and respect.

So, with this in mind, try this:  The next time you are at work, at home, or with friends, sllip this sentence into conversation:

What I expect from our nation's leaders is that they be (1) Plain Spoken, (2) Sincere, (3) Capable, and (4) Responsive.

Then listen to what other people have to say.  You may be surprised.  A short list of big ideas might just be all we need to get American back on track.

© 2005 Jeffrey Feldman

© Jeffrey Feldman 2005, Frameshop

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