America's cultural turn toward a glorification of the private and a denigration of the public has coexisted with what quite obviously is a deterioration in privacy. As individuals, we have dramatically less capacity than in earlier decades to control information about even the most personal aspects of our lives.
When Havel became president of Czechoslovakia at the end of 1989 -- and later, the president of the Czech Republic -- he became a powerful symbol of a new era of politics. Surely the country would "live in truth" as long as it had a president of unimpeachable character. On the practical, day-to-day matters of politics and economics, however, Havel was not as influential.