The good ones are able to explain convoluted concepts in simple terms that everyone can understand. To be modestly self-deprecating. And to deliver a zinger of a put-down with good humor and superb timing. In his day, President Lincoln was as much a master of the sound bite as Ronald Reagan would be six score years later.
It takes a healthy ego to first dream of and then plan to occupy the residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. A healthy ego and a single-minded determination.
And how can we be surprised if ... eventually ... those near the top of the political heap begin to believe their own press and start subscribing to the belief that being different entitles them to ignore the rules by which the rest of us operate?
I just looked up the definition of narcissism on the Internet: "self-love; an exceptional interest in and admiration for yourself; a person full of egoism and pride."
That's as good an explanation as any for Governor Mark Sanford's self-serving interviews this week.
First of all, it takes overweening narcissism to offer the media an interview sensational enough that it manages to rise above all the noise surrounding the death of the King of Pop. A lesser ego might have celebrated the fact that Michael Jackson's demise this week had eclipsed the news of his own adulterous affair.
But not Mark Sanford. He set out to give the press a story that would guarantee his place in the spotlight.
In my mind, this spectacular example of poor judgment alone justifies all the calls for Sanford's resignation. Never mind those rumors of financial impropriety.
And then when he's snared the world's attention again, what does the fool do? He sets out to convince us that his affair with Maria Belen Chapur was about more than just sex. As reported in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Sanford had this to say:
"This was a whole lot more than a simple affair, this was a love story ... A forbidden one, a tragic one, but a love story at the end of the day."
Gag me with a spoon.
My first thought upon hearing those words was, "Oh, my God. His poor wife."
Then I got seriously torqued. What is he doing? Trying to paint himself as a modern day Abelard to Chapur's Heloise? How stupid is he? And just how stupid does he think we are?
Not yet finished with his plan to self-destruct, Sanford says "he is trying to fall back in love with his wife, Jenny, even as he grapples with deep feelings for Chapur. 'I owe it too much to my boys and to the last 20 years with Jenny to not try this larger walk of faith'.
"I will be able to die knowing that I had met my soul mate."
Yeah, that's the stuff reconcilations are built on.
And just for good measure, he admits he's had "casual encounters with other women while he was married."
Obviously, it's dawned on him that some woman from his past might decide to capitalize on their time together. This must be the Sanford version of damage control.
There's a world of difference between sweaty sex and genuine affection, between lust and love. Publicly dissing your wife by rubbing her nose in this crap does not qualify you as a romantic idol. You've already embarrassed her and your kids. Quit trying to peel her dignity from her back like the bark from a tree.
"Have I done stupid? I have."
Truer words were never spoken. Now do us all a favor and crawl back under that rock you slithered out from.
I take comfort in the knowledge that his political career is finished. Videotape of him blubbering for the cameras while "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina" plays in the background will make an effective political ad for any future opponents.
Have I said too much?[Don't Cry For Me Argentina (Evita)]
There's nothing more I can think of to say to you
But all you have to do
Is look at me to know
That every word is true.