I met Nelson Mandela not long after he stepped down as president of South Africa. He was visiting the Gates Foundation in Seattle, and I was part of a group of journalists lucky enough to get the chance to interview him for an hour.
Now, with the news of his death at 95, Mandela is being lauded as the greatest, most charismatic leader of our times and I might be expected to say how amazing it was to be in the man’s presence. But on that day in Seattle, he seemed no more extraordinary than many other people I have met. He had a graceful dignity about him and a humility learned over a lifetime, but he was not physically imposing or remarkably eloquent. He just seemed like a very good man.
And that is something worth remembering as the world media perform a secular canonization of Mandela. He was not a saint or a superman. He had his human failings. He started his adult life as an angry young man with a malleable philosophy that ranged from Methodism to Marxism. He even agreed that...
Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist and columnist David Horsey is a political commentator for the Los Angeles Times.