The President is Not a Role Model

Charles Barkley said it best when he said that he was not a role model and that parents need to take responsibility for their kids’ upbringing. I think we can now officially say the same thing about

Lets start with sportsmanship. We all want our kids to be good sports, right ? The transcript of any speech from any Presidential or VP candidate is ripe with what any sports fan would call “bulletin board material”. From “lipstick on a pig”, to denigrating the value of community service, to every level of attack on personal issues. Where is the sportsmanship ? We wouldn’t put up with these kind of attacks on an election for 6Th grade class president, yet this is the example our candidates are setting.

The long list of examples fall on both sides of the aisle.

Do well in school ? Nope, you can finish in the bottom 1pct of your class. John McCain did.

Don’t do drugs ? Nope, our last 2 Presidents have, Obama, check. Sarah Palin, check.

Don’t spend more money than you have ? The increase in Government spending and the deficit says it all.

Don’t lie ? Watch any commercial from either party. Read any transcript. They all walk a very fine line between outright lying and “massaging” the truth.

And the role model issue doesn’t just apply to kids. It applies to parents as well. Can any parent across the country feel bad about their own family after getting a glimpse at the Republican Candidates ?
Pregnant, unmarried child who is not yet 18, check.
Sister who is divorcing a man who has been married 4 times, check
Shotgun Wedding, check
Adultery, check

Its straight out of an episode of My Name is Earl. Could this election be any more crazy when the Democratic candidates are better role models for family values than the Republicans ?

I’m not trying to call out any of the candidates on this. They are all human, with the same level of problems and vices that we all have. The point is that we live under a new reality. There are no more role models. People no longer live their lives trying to be bulletproof to media scrutiny. Personally, I don’t think that is bad at all. Maybe it’s time we finally admit that Presidents specifically, and politicians unilaterally are not role models, and stick to the issues and their ability to lead.

I don’t care if our President or VP has smoked pot. I don’t care if they weren’t a good student. I do care about how well they can do their job.

12 thoughts on “The President is Not a Role Model

  1. Pingback: When Role Models Fail Us: Where Does It Leave the Children? « Dr. Robyn Silverman’s Blog

  2. In religious communities in which life is more subject to social
    controls we get people who don’t have a chance to make personal
    mistakes.

    The secular leaders, however, even of traditional societies seem
    to have lived to a large extent above any kind of regulation.

    When you live in a liberal society in which people are free to
    make mistakes, you are going to have leaders who have made them.

    And in our society with its large media organizations and omnipresent
    cameras and reporters, not much is going to escape the spotlight.

    I’m not saying that it’s good to select leaders with obvious flaws
    but to claim or imply that it was a lot better in the past you need
    to show us the past in equal detail.

    Comment by Recruiting Animal -

  3. Mark,

    In a sense I agree with you that the President is no longer capable of
    being the main role model for today’s youth. However, I do think we,
    as a nation should begin to demand that these people are held to higher
    standards, unfortunately with the “Josh Howard” effect (taking from your
    post removing the J.Howard post) of 24/7/365 high tech surveillance of
    popular individuals, and the line blurred severely between entertainment
    and politics (sometimes I watch the election coverage and am reminded of
    professional wrestling — the acting is somewhat better in professional
    wrestling.

    Because people lives are invaded to a degree never before experienced, it
    is impossible for any public figure to truly become, or remain a role
    model for very long.

    love the blog.

    Comment by Jeff C. -

  4. “I don’t care if our President or VP has smoked pot. I don’t care if they weren’t a good student. I do care about how well they can do their job.”
    You summed up the whole problem and you probably didn’t even realize it. If you did care and the majority of voters cared then the politicians would have to live up to OUR standards, but because you don’t care they don’t have to either. I hope they can do the job too, and I think it is extremely unfair to blame a parent for their kids teenage pregnancy.

    Comment by Jared -

  5. Mark,

    But our country was also founded on the principle that we have a right
    to expect a much higher standard from our elected leaders, including
    their moral decisions and scrutiny of past actions.

    This is the point… Just saying forget about it, is not good enough.
    At least let them openly set the high standards. A president is not
    just a CEO. He is also the person with the power to make every lasting
    changes in the way society functions…

    At the end of the day, even the basic human rights are a matter of
    morality. I am not saying that I support a president who decides
    without common sense or who is incapable of articulating why he came
    to a decision… But I do believe that a president has to be held
    to very high standards. Issues are part of the equation. But remember
    issues may change very quickly. The man remains.

    We need a pragmatic leader, capable of admitting his shortcomings,
    but who also expects a high level of commitment and excellence of the
    people in this country, including in what we believe is good for
    society. Of course this doesnt reduce to our current oversimplified
    debate about abortion, etc…

    But let us not forget, a president is not just a CEO… If not, just
    hire some suit and give him stock USA

    Comment by Ram -

  6. It’s sad that we don’t expect a role model to hold the most powerful office in the land. I’ve been reading that, with self-discipline and courage, can come great vision. I think that’s what we have loved about certain rhetoric of past Presidents or leaders in general. I think, we no longer believe that leaders HAVE THE ABILITY to be role models. You’re right Mr. Cuban, there can be incredible leaders with no ability to be good role models, there’s a long list. That doesn’t mean they were the best person for that job. I’ve been in leadership positions and I disagree with Charles Barkley or, at least, I believe he took a selfish and easy way out in declaring that he was not a role model. I have worked in the residential treatment field for seven years, working with at-risk youth…who have no real family to return to. Believe me, he can sqawk all he wants about not being a role model, but I can him meet inner city kids who have become just as mouthy and arrogant because they have his rookie card and jersey. They want to grow up and be just like Charles Barkley.
    People who are highly visible become role models because people have come to overly respect and legitimize the field of entertainment. It is also true that being a role model, on the level of exposure you operate, comes along with that kind of overexposure. There are analysts who look to Barkley’s approach to reporting or television commentary. He has never looked very bright after his commentary on role models. Nor can a person assume that public figures can’t be role models because there are people who want to follow in your, yes Mr. Cuban, your footsteps. This is human, this is a small part of the way humans attach (it is proven through attachment theory, how people connect to those who seem most important and give them a sense of meaning). Raising a child is completely the responsibility of the parents, a child will naturally attach to different parts of his/her environment. It’s a part of how everybody is wired.

    Comment by Michael -

  7. No… they are role models. In a sense, everyone is. The point is, what type of role model are they. The President, as any other public figure (professional entertainers – music, movies, athletes, etc.)should be positive role models which is why they are publicly criticized and rightly so.

    Question – why compare Obama with Palin. McCain is not compared to Biden.

    Comment by Dave -

  8. Mark,

    Great post, but I do take exception with one line … “Could this election be any more crazy when the Democratic candidates are better role models for family values than the Republicans ?”

    That’s not exactly fair, it’s just that Republicans have claimed to own the faily values issues just as they’ve claimed to own National Security, fiscal conservatism, and no ties to lobbying. The reall difference here is the Democrats have never been, as of the last 8 years, so condescending and disrespectful of their contingents to outright lie and play Rovian/Orwellian politics.

    I hope you don’t believe that because then you haven’t been paying much attention to guys like Tom DeLay, Mark Foley, Ted Stevens, Jack Abramoff, and just about the rest of them …

    Comment by David Weiner -

  9. Pingback: Role Models « Thinking Out Loud

  10. Pingback: The Connected Lawyer » Is the President a Role Model?

  11. Pingback: The President is Not a Role Model « blog maverick « The Indignation

  12. Great post

    Comment by Kennyb -

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