Katie Kieffer

As children, we play “Follow the Leader.” As adults, we occasionally play “Follow the Playboy” because history shows us that imperfect men can lead.

Many pioneers in their field were brilliant men who made big mistakes. Alexander Hamilton—America’s founding father and first Secretary of the Treasury—had an affair with a married woman while he was married to the amiable mother of his eight children. King David—a biblical leader who received a special covenant from God—committed adultery with Bathsheba before he repented and passed his throne to Solomon. Tiger Woods—the Masters’ youngest winner and a 14-time major champion who inspired countless athletes for over three decades—lost Elin Nordegren through his adultery.

We view these three men (and many others) as leaders because of their contributions to society, distinct from their moral flaws. Despite weaknesses, each man used his unique talents to lead in his field. These men didn’t publicly flaunt their playboy lifestyles à la Hugh Hefner and their mistakes are therefore instructional rather than influential.

Everyone has his or her own vicious tendency such as anger, covetousness or sloth. And, everyone has distinctive talents. We all have the ability to control our impulses and lead in a particular sphere (such as public policy, religion, education, science or athletics) that channels our unique talents.

Let’s say someone has a bad habit of spouting off like a South Park character but he also possesses qualities like patience, high energy and creativity requisite for teaching young children. He can become an excellent role model for children if he focuses on exercising his talents and controlling his language in the classroom.

On a political level, if a presidential candidate has a reputation (real or perceived) for being a distracted playboy, we shouldn’t automatically assume that he wouldn’t control himself if he becomes president.

When asked about his past personal life, which is tainted with repeat infidelity, Newt Gingrich told Fox News: “I have reconciled and asked for forgiveness from God.” In the case of Gingrich, voters need to decide whether he means what he says. In the case of Herman Cain, voters need to weigh his alleged past behavior towards women against his overall and current record of behavior towards women.

Always take the mainstream media’s opinion with a grain of salt. In just twelve days, Politico published 157 negative articles about Cain’s alleged sexual improprieties. That’s over 13 slanderous stories a day based on hearsay and anonymous rumors. Rags like Politico often get the “playboy scoop” from sources with questionable motives and backgrounds such as: Little Miss Anonymous, Sharon Bialek and Karen Kraushaar.

When socialist journalists can’t refute a candidate’s political positions by using reason, they often cast him as a playboy because they know that Americans have a history of electing a president who at least appears to have a clean marital record. (Ronald Reagan is still the only divorced man to become president.)

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that Cain or Gingrich are playboys. I’m saying that we shouldn’t automatically dismiss candidates who may have acted like playboys in the past. Especially right now. Americans want a job-creator. Americans are dissatisfied with the status quo and so fiscal leaders—playboy or not—are “electable.” For example, a recent RealClearPolitics survey reveals that Congressman Ron Paul has the ability to beat President Obama.

Not every playboy has leadership potential. If a presidential candidate doesn’t overcome his bad habits before he enters the White House, he could distract and embarrass the country by behaving like a school boy—lying under oath and redefining “sexual relations” so as not to include staining blue dresses or teaching interns how to use cigar tubes as sex toys.

The Constitution gives the president the power of the sword (i.e. the power to enforce the laws) and a man without integrity can’t be trusted with a sword. Have you ever known a police officer to succeed in enforcing the law by making out with station house interns in his squad car?

Ultimately, a man with salacious tendencies can be a strong leader if he controls himself and channels his talents in a rational and responsible manner. We can confidently elect an alleged playboy to lead America’s boardroom if his leadership ability transcends his yen to yo-yo in the bedroom.


Katie Kieffer

Katie Kieffer is the author of a new book published by Random House, LET ME BE CLEAR: Barack Obama’s War on Millennials and One Woman’s Case for Hope.” She writes a weekly column for Townhall.com. She also runs KatieKieffer.com.