Lets Imagine A Dinner Between Chicago's Mayor Emanuel And Korea's Kim Jong

If I were planning a dinner meeting between Emanuel and Jong, I’d propose the 4-star Bali HI in Hawaii. You know, geographically midway. And maybe including Dennis Rodman to grease the conversation. But after some martini cordiality, what would these two leaders have to say to one another?

Dictators and democratically elected officials don’t have much in common. Elected officials obviously have the harder job getting what they want. Dictators dictate the room; elected officials have to work the room. In doing so there are two definitions of democratic leadership. “You don’t look for a consensus, you make one!” Or. “You see where the people are headed, then jump in front saying: follow me!”

Either way, either Korea or Chicago style, politicians usually get a bad rap. Perhaps less openingly there than here, but surely politicians are among the world’s lowest-esteemed creatures. We complain about them, sneer at them, insist we could do a better job in our sleep.

But wait a minute.

I’m one of those peculiar guys who still sees politics as the noble calling Aristotle did. The world’s indispensable role. Without some sort of good stable governance, nothing else in a society gets done. Business, trade, banking, transportation, entertainment, the fine arts, nothing can function unless the government is sound and stable enough to hold the whole thing together.

The cheapest shot you and I and the media take is the charge that pols talk out of both sides of their mouth. Well, you’re damn right they do….! If they didn’t try to balance what they’re doing for this group with what they’re doing for that group, there would be chaos. Balancing, calibrating, fine-tuning programs and promises to mesh together is the very art of politics.

In sports we call that team spirit. In governing, a leader needs to achieve the same. Frankly, no matter how often he has to bend the truth, shave the facts, or mix & match different constituencies. No, not pretty; but yes, pretty damn essential.

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