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WASHINGTON--After watching the first two 2012 presidential debates, I only wish that President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney could have personally observed New York City's 1969 election.
That year, the city's handsome, charismatic mayor, John Lindsay, after a disappointing first term that had begun with unrealistically high expectations, made a TV commercial crafted by his political adviser David Garth that was nothing less than a mea culpa. Standing in shirtsleeves on the porch of Gracie Mansion and looking directly into the camera, the mayor acknowledged his failures:
"I guessed wrong on the weather before the city's biggest snowfall last winter. And that was a mistake. But I put 6,000 more cops on the streets, and that was no mistake. The school strike went on too long, and we all made some mistakes. But I brought 225,000 more jobs to this town. And that was no mistake. And we did not have a Detroit, Watts, or Newark. And those were no mistakes. The things that go wrong are what make this the second toughest job in America. But the things that go right are what make me want it."
After publicly eating humble pie, Mayor Lindsay won re-election.
Which brings us to the 2012 presidential campaign, where I have yet to detect so much as a smidgen, let alone an iota, of humility on the part of either
To listen to the 2012 standard-bearers is to hear two exceptional individuals who, publicly at least, are total strangers to self-doubt. The first one who straightforwardly admits to having made a policy mistake or failure in judgment could well sew up this election.