The little piece of my father’s abundant wisdom that I probably quote most often these days is about clear intentions in hard things:
“The time to decide whether or not you want to kill a deer is before you go hunting.”
Like all people through all time, many Americans today would like to have the good things that come from wealth and power but not to face the hard choices that the pursuit of these things invariably bring to those who wish to be ethical people. They set out to succeed as political leaders, or business tycoons, or celebrities, or journalists, but don’t think about the implications. And when the time comes to pull the trigger—to risk reelection, economic loss, influence, or audience in order to do what they set out to do—they fail.
Too few of us are like my old boss, Bill Sammon, who, as managing editor for the Fox News Channel, faced extraordinary pressure to flinch at a crucial moment in the work he had set out to do as a journalist. Americans now know some of the story about how Sammon stayed steady and purposeful when his bosses and so many at our then employer were surrendering to fear.