How to write a column about Nelson Mandela, if you are Thomas Friedman:
1. There's no need to spelunk through the man's life for something to write about. Remember that movie Invictus? The one where Morgan Freeman played Mandela? Talk about a scene from that. You can even quote one of Freeman's lines, because why bother digging up anything the actual Mandela actually said?
2. Don't bother interviewing any experts on South African history or politics. Just talk with the author of a management self-help book. He's sure to have lots of insights into Mandela's leadership secrets, so give him several paragraphs to express himself.
3. It's good to take a look at the big picture too, so you should suggest that the failures of democratic movements in Egypt, Ukraine, and elsewhere show that they need "a leader, but the right kind of leader." Like Morgan Freeman, I guess.