Ariel Sharon was one. So was Richard Nixon. France's De Gaulle and South Africa's Botha. They have some things in common.
They usually posses a gruff no nonsense outward manner that appeals to the public, while disguises a massive ego within. Inside they're selfish, paranoid and often corrupt.
If they served in the military they have a history of insubordination behind them. Being self-centered, they refuse to follow anyone else's orders. They can strike patriotic poses and stand passionately for causes and take big risks in the process, but those are just vehicles to fulfill their own ambitions and serve their own egos.
To their supporters they appear to be paternalistic figures reminding them of their fathers and embodying virtues such as loyalty, traditional values and decisive leadership. In truth they have no loyalty to anyone but themselves and will discard people the moment they cease being useful to them. They use many people but they trust no one. They may play at endorsing traditional values but they likely view such values with contempt, because they view the public with contempt.
The same elements that appeal to conservatives, cause them to be targeted by huge volumes of hatred from liberal and left-wing elements. Politicians like Nixon, DeGaulle, Sharon faced a volume of hate, character assassination and unfavorable comparisons to Hitler on a regular basis. If the politics of conservatives are shaped by a search for a father figure to create a safe home, the politics of liberals are shaped by an ongoing vituperative rebellion against father figures.
In times of crisis the public seeking a father figure elevates them to political office and gives them virtually unlimited powers. Conservative and traditional elements back them seeing them as the saviors embodying their values. This is a big mistake and often the last mistake they and the country will ever make.
Misled by their no nonsense attitudes and their tough rhetoric, people elect them believing them to be wolves. Instead once elected after a period of tough talk and tough measures they turn out to be sheep in wolves clothing.
What the public sees as courageous leaders are in fact selfish cold-blooded men who are experts at protecting themselves. Even as they amp up their rhetoric, they decide the struggle can't be won and the crisis can only be resolved with a retreat. What follows are surges of violent attacks combined with a surrender to the enemy in principle. Vietnam, Algeria, Gaza all followed the same pattern.
The rhetoric and bursts of violence result in rising international condemnation even as the retreats give the enemy exactly what they want, thus handing them a double victory. Some of their supporters remain blinded by the rhetoric and the occasional attacks such as the targeted strikes against Hamas terrorists or the Christmas bombing of Hanoi failing to realize that they are just covers for a large scale surrender.
Shocked at this sudden turnabout the people who supported these leaders may protest and even take violent action (Israel and France) only to be ruthlessly cracked down on. The aftermath leaves the conservative and traditional camp shattered and riven between 'moderates' who are willing to sell out and 'extremists' who are delegitimized, suppressed or splintered into many useless organizations. By the time they finally leave office, their politics of surrender have become the de facto national politics and they are usually replaced by a liberal figure who takes these policies to a whole new level.
By the time their reign is over, the country will have suffered damage it may take decades if ever to recover from, the enemy will have won, the liberals empowered and the conservative forces that might have stemmed the breaches have been greatly weakened. They retire as controversial historical figures who are usually remembered as hated tyrants and rarely given credit for the liberal policies they actually implemented.