War heroes, generals come to elections with an advantage, the aura of greatness, of accomplishment and heroism. In practice though the results are at best mixed. America began with one general as President, a reluctant George Washington, and then didn't have another General as President for quite a while. Those few Presidents after Washington who were Generals, were generally mediocrities or outright disasters, Jackson, Zachary Taylor, Ulysses S. Grant, Dwight Eisenhower.
Today in a time of crisis America faces ever more politicians eager to trade on their military credentials. Former disgraced General Wesley Clark is constantly in the wings. John Kerry attempted to trade on his dubious military record, running as a war hero, after he had made his career blasting his fellow soldiers as war criminals. John McCain has practically hung up a 'War Hero for Sale' sign presenting his past as a key credential for the Presidency. Before them Bob Dole ran for office on little more than lethargy and a war injury, not inflicted by the enemy. Triple amputee congressman Max Cleland shamelessly allowed his injuries inflicted by his own carelessness with a grenade on base, to be represented as a combat injury too.
In Israel the situation is a good deal worse and the generalship is simply the first step to a political career. Israel's two most disastrous Prime Ministers were former generals Rabin and Sharon, one of whom signed a deal with the terrorists and the second ethnically cleansed Gaza of Jews opening the way for Hamas.
It should be apparent that the willingness to trade on a military reputation is itself a warning sign of careerism, of men who began working to promote themselves politically even while still in the military, as was the case with Kerry and Sharon. That kind of cynical self-promotion often creates a dangerous precedent. The reality is that real heroes are reluctant to trade on their wartime experiences for political gain, it's cynical figures who are all too willing to position themselves as political heroes. And cynicism goes hand in hand with corruption. It's no real surprise then that of the two Senators who survived the Keating Five purge, John McCain and John Glenn, both were men who had become larger than life legends.
This too forms a pattern. President Grant's administration was one of the more corrupt of the period. Rabin and Sharon's histories in public office were ripe with corruption and Sharon's son Omri is now headed for jail. Jackson's spoils system combined with his assault on the banks in favor of his cronies nearly destroyed America's economy for a generation. In such men the bold ruthlessness that brings them to victory in war was married with a boundless egotism, excepting perhaps Grant. This type of personality is perfectly on display in John McCain, the quickness to anger, the determination to have his way, the willingness to sell out to the highest bidder while maintaining a self-righteous facade.
After a war heroes go home, they raise families, they work 9 to 5 and they try to forget the past. The public needs heroes though and must have them, yet the ones who step forward are themselves often a self-selecting group, men willing to create their own image on the public stage and then stand in awe of it. The public wants Cincinnatus but instead repeatedly finds itself stuck with Caesar.