ining the character, of aspiring leaders isnthat it is good for us—personally goodnfor us. Ms. Sheehy sees her characternportraits as “case histories that instructnus in how, and how not, to conductnourselves to win at life.” Her subjects,nas she presents them, teach us “thenprice for avoiding or denying confrontationnwith life’s major passages”; theynare a “mirror.” But precisely what kindnof mirror? Is Ms. Sheehy saying thatnwe may find educational the life storiesnof American leaders? No, it’s morenthan that. I think her suggestion is thatnthe next time we’re facing a personalncrisis and feeling like losers at life, wenmight try asking ourselves how AlnGore would handle the problem.nIn constructing her character profiles,nGail Sheehy employs a method tonsupport a thesis. The method and thenthesis happen to be one and the same:neverything counts. Believing thatn”[a]ny odd bit of behavior . . . mightnbe a clue to a larger truth,” Ms. Sheehynbases her character analyses “onnevidence — evidence I go out and dignup.” What she digs up is a whole messnof people — past and present colleagues,nex-girlfriends, former neighbors,nhigh-school coaches — whose observationsnall are given equal weight,nwhose possible motives for what theynsay or don’t say go unexamined, whosenclarity of memory is left unquestioned.nMs. Sheehy presents as character “evidence”npeople whose character (and innsome cases whose very names) we donnot know.nOnly after talking to “thirty, forty,nor fifty” sources, then conducting “atnleast two long interviews” with thencandidate and traveling “extensively”nin his company, does Gail Sheehynmake her final character judgments.nAnd how long does this process take?nHow long, for example, did it take hernin 1984 to “find out who Gary Hartnreally was”? Well, the task of findingnout what “made Gary Hart tick” tooknGail Sheehy all of “a month” — quitena feat considering that “one politicalnassociate of Hart’s after another” hadnsaid to Ms. Sheehy, “When you findnout who Gary Hart is, let me know.”nShe let everyone know. But whennsome unity of public opinion did formnabout Hart’s character, it was not becausenGail Sheehy, in 1984, revealednwhat “made Gary Hart tick.” It wasnbecause The Miami Herald, in 1987,nreported what Gary Hart had done.nThe lesson here might be that toncitizens, a candidate’s actions speaknlouder than his ticking.nThat is not Ms. Sheehy’s message.nIn any case, her mission is to givenlessons to, not take lessons from, thencitizenry. Lesson number one: a person’snpsychological tick-tick, easily audiblenif you know how to listen, can bencounted as a future action. And whatndoes this have to do with the price ofneggs? Well, now we’re into lessonnnumber two: elections aren’t about thenprice of eggs. For Gail Sheehy, annelection ideally is a shared nationalntherapy session, in which candidatesn”are made to reveal” (the italics arenmine) their true inner selves, whilenvoters study this forced psychologicalndisrobing and learn not only how tonpick a foolproof President but how ton”win at life.”nLike many people who write aboutnpolitics, Ms. Sheehy simplifies thencomplicated questions and complicatesnthe simple ones. An election is a decision,nperiod. And even if all of thenparties on both sides of the decisionnarrive at the crucial moment by complexnpsychological routes, the decisionmakingnitself proceeds in a fairlynstraightforward manner. You’re thencandidate, I’m the voter. I’m determiningnif I want you to be more than ancandidate. I base my determination onnwhat I believe, what you say (andnsometimes what you’ve done), whethernI agree with what you say, and whethernI believe you believe what you say.nAfter the matter of values and thenquestion of “issues” (which Ms.nSheehy dismisses as “too complex” tontrust a candidate’s positions on), votingncan come down to raw instinct (/ justndon’t trust that guy), pure emoHon (/njust don’t like that guy), and, sometimes,nplain human idiosyncrasy. Inknow a woman who refused to vote fornGeorge Bush because “his eyes are toonclose together.” I overheard a womannin the grocery store say she wouldn’tnvote for Michael Dukakis because “hisnhead is too big for his body.” Reactionnto a candidate’s physical characteristicsnis not an intelligent basis on which tonselect a President. But in the end, itnseems no riskier an approach thannreaction to the recollections of a candidate’snold girlfriend.nAnd after the election, then what?nnnSome Presidents will be better at theirnjob than others, and some citizens willnbe dissatisfied no matter who’s in officenor what he does. But by Gail Sheehy’snreasoning, the fact that elected leadersncan turn out to be flawed is proof thatnthe electorate’s criteria for leadershipnare flawed. By her reasoning, betternleadership standards would ultimatelynresult in less voter disenchantment.nAnd how do we arrive at better standards?nWe can start by listening to GailnSheehy. First, we must understand thatnenough “mental and moral distinguishingnmarks are evident by the timenindividuals seek or rise to high office tonpredict whether a leader might be weaknor strong, sincere or tricky, good ornbad.” Then, we must use that understandingn”to discern and weigh theninnermost natures of our would-benleaders before they . . . take control ofnour fates.”nBehind Ms. Sheehy’s remedy fornthe prevention of bad Presidents andndisillusioned citizens—behind her entirenbook — are two assumptions. One,nshe assumes it is actually possible ton”discern and weigh the innermost natures”nof people with whom we (voters)nhave never had, will never have,nreal human contact—people we don’tnknow. Discerning and weighing a humannbeing’s innermost nature is, asnGail Sheehy is, the first to acknowledge,na tall order. Ms. Sheehy’s efforts on thenGary Hart case notwithstanding, Inthink the project takes more thaii anmonth.nMs. Sheehy’s second assumption isnthat once all of a would-be leader’sn”mental and moral distinguishingnmarks” are made evident (presumablynby Ms. Sheehy), something close to anpublic consensus will follow on thenmeaning of those “marks.” But Ms.nSheehy herself, in yet another of hernpoints about the pervasiveness of politicalnimage-making, cites a “massive”n1987 Los Angeles Times study thatnfound that “Americans are divided intonnine different value orientations.”nDoes she have any idea what shenrevealed with that single illustration?nDoes she know what the fact of ninen(or five, or eight, or twelve) differentnvalue orientations means? It means itnisn’t easy to reach collective agreementnabout a candidate’s identity, much lessnthe interpretation of a candidate’sn”mental and moral distinguishingnAPRIL 1989/37n