The idea fits perfectly with my post yesterday on the 2 (good & evil) wolves!
Washington was acclaimed as a hero because of the way he conducted himself during times of temptation. As Brooks noted: "It was his moral character that set him apart from other men."
His dignity code is based on the same premise of our Constitution, or as Brooks explains: "Human beings are flawed creatures who live in constant peril of falling into disasters caused by their own passions. Artificial systems have to be created to balance and restrain their desires."
This dignity code Washington exemplified has been virtually obliterated in today's society. Scandals of indignity are especially endemic in politics...crossing both party lines (think John Edward and Mark Sanford).
Our country could certainly learn from many American leaders in history. Washington extolled the merits of living according to the rules and showing self restraint in his public and private life. I have never understood how people are willing to TRUST leaders who don't show good morals or high character in their private lives! What makes us think someone will be fair and honest with us/everyman when they don't show integrity to those they purport to love!
I believe we are all capable of great good OR great folly on a daily, even hourly basis and "commitment" and "discipline" to ourselves and our loved ones certainly help keep us in check!