For me, the Spygate situation is extremely reminiscent of the Impeachment of Bill Clinton.
I respected Bill Clinton and the shrewd way in which he ran his presidency. He remains a brilliant and calculating politician. I also have seen very few people with such broad knowledge, insatiable curiosity, and the ability to communicate his knowledge and enthusiasm in such a commanding and sharp way.
One of my favorite memories of Bill Clinton came toward the end of his presidency. He sat down with Roger Ebert to discuss movies. Clinton was in his element, expressing a very sincere reverence for film. He mentioned that he thought that Three Kings was the best movie he had seen that year. In these moments, Clinton is both very likable and also someone with whom I was comfortable running the country. His intellect was considerable and he knew how to use it in a practical and pragmatic way. His personality was perfectly designed for the modern presidency.
I was never very impressed with the many scandals that dogged Clinton, but the Monica Lewinsky affair was something else. It not only exposed his own many moral failings, but also his selfishness and arrogance.
The impeachment was a farce and made a mockery of the Constitution. There was a double failing of leadership in this case. The Republicans should have never let themselves become slaves to the pursuit of the President. And while the impeachment was wrong, Clinton should have looked past it and realized that the damage he had done to the country and his party warranted resignation. If he had done so, I believe that Al Gore would now be enjoying his tenth and final year in office as I write.
In the same way, I believe what Bill Belichick has done probably did not effect the outcome of games. The crime of video-taping is both small and small-minded.
Like Clinton, I have been drawn to Belichick accomplishments. I have enjoyed many Patriot games over the years and admired Belichick gritty and smart coaching style. If I were Bob Kraft, I would not fire him for it. But I do think that he should resign.
While the reality of what he has done is relatively small, the perception problem is immense. He has ruined the accomplishments of his players and cheapened the image of the NFL. But like Clinton, he has taken a defensive and arrogant stance toward it all.
Bill Belichick is a great coach and Bill Clinton was a great president, but, paradoxically, they are not great leaders. They lack an understanding of moral character (which does not require that you are perfect or religious, but that you grasp the greater good). Unfortunately, it is these qualities that we seem to lack and I'm not sure any of the candidates possess it. Great leadership is rare and I think that the modern requirements of the political system often discourages truly gifted leaders. I don't our deficit of leadership is unique in history. It would just be an apt time for one to emerge.