Matt Bai appeared on “The Daily Show” Monday night to promote his book, “All The Truth Is Out: The Week The News Went Tabloid.” It’s about Gary Hart’s withdrawal from the 1984 presidential race after allegations about his personal life were made public by the media.
At the end of the interview, Jon Stewart asked, “Do you think there are people of substance who could have done this country great things, who we will never know about because of the corrosive nature of our politics??” Bai’s answer was so perfect that even Stewart was taken aback at its brilliance:
I do, Jon. I’ve been covering national politics for 15 years. I’ve covered 4 presidential campaigns. I do think we lose people who don’t want to put themselves through this unendurable process or put their families through it. I think we drum good people out of politics who are defined by the single worst thing they’ve ever done as opposed to the context of their public lives. And I think we make it much, much easier for people who have no business holding office to enter the process, because when you’re not talking about ideas and worldviews and agendas, when you’re talking about character and personality, it makes it very easy for someone to float through the process without ever having to explain themselves or demonstrate what they know.