Ted Haggard smiling in his car, telling reporters he did indeed buy methamphetamines and received a massage from a male prostitute was disturbing enough, but what really got me from that photograph was Haggard's son, looking at his father, from the back seat.
What happens to the children of hypocrites? What kind of people do they become?
When Gov. Jeb Bush visited Pittsburgh last month, he blew a kiss at a group of protestors, and it struck me that kind of arrogance could only come from the way he was raised. Pompousness is a fundamental part of who he is. When the protestors chased him into a subway broom closet, it was perhaps the only time in Jeb Bush's life that he didn't get away with being a (horse's) ass.
Gov. Bush's, um, character, it appears, has influenced the health and well being of the next generation of Jeb Bushes, too.
Will Rick Santorum's children carry on in their father's name and perpetuate a legacy of closed-minded anger?
What about the kids of Curt Weldon or Don Sherwood? What kind of moral compass is guiding them?
Do George Allen's children embrace people of all color and ancestry?
What do the offspring of these people bring to the future? Why does it matter? Is it even a fair question to ask?
Well, yes, because if these hypocritical, judgmental parents, who happen to be in places of tremendous power, continue living the lies they've lived forever, and continue to get away with it, these kids will live that way too. One day they might decide to take up the family business and run for office or preach to an unquestioning flock. The cycle will continue and the world will never learn. With each generation we could lose more perspective, and end up at a progressively worse place.
Just look at where we, as a nation, are now. It is a horrifyingly perfect example.
Fortunately, a lesson is almost certainly about to be forced on these so called "leaders" and their children, and ours, are, hopefully, watching.
In Pittsburgh, right now, a woman named Denise Johnson is going door to door encouraging her neighbors in the deteriorating Homewood section of this city to vote. Denise left her job as a $5 an hour worker at McDonalds to be a community organizer for ACORN, a job for which she is paid $8 an hour. Denise told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette she has never loved a job as much as this one, because she is helping her neighbors and her neighborhood, but, mostly, because she is showing her children her "strength." In the process, Denise's children are learning how to be thoughtful, caring, authentic leaders. The hypocritical powers that be in this country also have a lot to learn about life and leadership from Denise Johnson. Too bad they likely won't ever listen.
The point is, out there, everywhere, are decent, visionary, hard working leaders. Unfortunately, the officials holding the reigns are just the opposite.
Our kids need and deserve leaders from whom they can learn what it means to govern in a productive and positive way.
If we do what is necessary, and get rid of these hypocrites, the children of this country will discover that we don't abide unethical leaders who govern and preach anger, fear, discrimination and narrow-minded beliefs.
We can only hope it means we are putting in place better examples of leadership, and, therefore, are building better leaders down the road.