Loved or Feared?

The question of whether it's better for a leader to be loved or feared dates back at least to Machiavelli. And here comes in the ...
by | March 11, 2008

The question of whether it's better for a leader to be loved or feared dates back at least to Machiavelli.

And here comes in the question whether it is better to be loved rather than feared, or feared rather than loved. It might perhaps be answered that we should wish to be both; but since love and fear can hardly exist together, if we must choose between them, it is far safer to be feared than loved.

In Spitzer's case, it was clear that he was more feared than loved. That did seem the better course for him, for a long while. He saw himself as a crusading reformer, so intimidation tactics came in handy. That seemed all well and good while he was a prosecutor, or when his approval ratings were in the 70s.

But it hasn't helped him this week. It's hard to imagine him surviving this scandal under any circumstances, but clearly he had no reservoir of goodwill to draw upon. It might not have helped him much, but at least there might be someone to say a kind word or two about him to counter the calls for impeachment and the general sense of "why doesn't he quit already" indignation radiating from the cable news shows.

There's been a good deal of regret and shock, but the only halfway sympathetic comments I've heard have come from a few of his fellow high-ranking politicians, who have an air of there but for the grace of God go I about them, a reluctance to pile on, out of tribal loyalties or fear.

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