Today I went to see the movie Frost/Nixon about the David Frost interviews of Nixon after he was impeached. It was your classic Greek tragedy where the hubris-headed hero falls from grace, and Bush, of course, came to mind...
Megalomaniac Nixon was completely out of touch with the American people. He believed that as president he sat above the law, and had little remorse for his actions.
David Frost interviewed Nixon on four separate occasions, and it was in the last interview that he succeeded in getting get Nixon to take some responsibity, admitting that he had let the American people down. All I could think about was how lucky Nixon was to be brought to this place -- we all carry around shame -- and what a favor Frost did him in getting him to in some way say he was sorry.
Shame. Mistakes. Letting people down.
There is nothing like a public shaming when the whole wide world is watching. How do you deal with that, how can you be inside of Nixon or Bush or other fallen leaders and be shamed in front of the world?? How do you hold onto your sanity, other than by deluding yourself?
There is something magical about saying "I'm sorry. I was wrong." This is all I have wanted from people who have hurt me, and by saying I was sorry it is the only way I have been able to let go of my own shame.
In the end Nixon privately admitted to Frost that he didn't really like people all that much, and he found it odd that he ended up in a job where you needed people-skills. I always got the feeling that Bush didn't really like people, that he tolerated us because he had no other choice. Being president is a funny thing. The job-description calls for mythic qualities, but I guess we're all just human after all.