In Profiles in Courage, JFK wrote:

[W]hat then caused the statesmen mentioned in the preceding pages to act as they did? It was not because they “loved the public better than themselves.” On the contrary it was precisely because they did love themselves — because each one’s need to maintain his own respect for himself was more important to him than his popularity with others — because his desire to win or maintain a reputation for integrity and courage was stronger than his desire to maintain his office — because his conscience, his personal standard of ethics, his integrity or morality, call it what you will — wais stronger than the pressures of public disapproval — because his faith that his course was the best one, and would ultimately be vindicated, outweighed his fear of public reprisal.


Although the public good was the indirect beneficiary of his sacrifice, it was not that vague and general concept, but one or a combination of these pressures of self-love that pushed him along the course of action that resulted in the slings and arrows previously described. It is when the politician loves neither the public good nor himself, or when his love for himself is limited and is satisfied by the trappings of office, that the public interest is badly served. And it is when his regard for himself is so high that his own self-respect demands he follow the path of courage and conscience that all benefit.