A Strong Leader
For Tough Times?
April 14, 2001
by Bradford Shaw
With many of the world's political hot spots undergoing periods
of instability, it would be reassuring to know that a strong,
intelligent and heroic figure is at the helm of our mighty
nation. When our citizens find their interests or security
threatened from some foreign power, it has always been a comfort
to have a brave, thoughtful, yet assertive presence in the
White House. Unfortunately for our nation, and the free world,
we appear to have a coward as Chief Executive.
Many people have looked to the past history of George W.
Bush, as well as current behavior, to find insights into his
apparent lack of intestinal fortitude. His college career
was somewhat uneventful, except for a few arrests involving
fraternity pranks. Sometime directly following this period,
however, there are rumors of his involvement with an abortion
of an unwanted pregnancy by his girlfriend at the time.
This action, if true, would show an early sign of weakness
and fear. Weakness involving his lack of control in the bedroom,
and fear that his actions would affect his father's career
as well as his own political future. A quick and quiet, but
perhaps illegal procedure that his family and political party
would not approve of would take care of the problem. This
decision to take the easy way out was not very courageous,
and the person who placed this unfortunate woman in this position
was not very intelligent.
Another early sign of this trend can be seen in his checkered
military career. During the Vietnam War, most young men of
George's age and intelligence were constantly thinking of
the threat that military conscription imposed upon their future.
As the son of a government official who had a little influence,
he never had to worry about Vietnam or the threat of front
line duty due to his service in the Texas National Guard.
He was trained in such a manner that he would never be qualified
to go into battle, or even serve in a theatre of war. The
airplane that he flew was out dated, and his flight education
was limited in such a way as to render him useless. It appears
from gaps in his service record, that he was missing from
duty for some time, and the cruel speculation that is heard
in some circles says that he might have ducked out of a few
drug tests in this manner. This is not a military career covered
in glory and honor. It didn't take much bravery to protect
the airways of the sovereign state of Texas in the 1960s.
Following this unremarkable and not-so-noteworthy period
of his life, we now stumble upon his arrest for drunk driving.
Here is where George could have redeemed himself, in terms
of strength and bravery, by admitting his drinking problem,
and finding help to deal with it. Sadly, that did not happen.
Rather than embarrass his father and jeopardize his political
career, it was decided to hush-up the matter and to pretend
that it hadn't occured.
While this may have been the best political solution for
George Sr., it didn't solve much for W. He continued to drink
alcohol for many years to come. It will never be known just
how many times he may have driven while impaired during this
period, but the thought itself is not reassuring. It would
have been very courageous for George to stand up and take
responsibility for his actions, thus providing a good role
model for his peer group. Of course, that too never occured.
Later in life, as Governor of Texas, George could have showed
the nation just how strong he was by following through on
his promise to the people of Texas to finish his second term.
After all, that was one of his biggest campaign promises during
his re-election effort. This decision to wait until he had
more experience in government would have demonstrated courage
and intelligence far greater than ever expected in modern
The lure of Presidential power was too much, however, and
George went to Washington. On the road to the White House,
he had another opportunity to show courage by admitting his
past problems with alcohol and drugs, thus showing himself
to be a good role model for sobriety and hard work. An admission
of imperfections would actually show him to be the compassionate
conservative that his public relations people wanted us to
believe he was.
George's power base, however, was highly conservative and
grounded in old school politics, which could never permit
such candor. After all, telling the whole truth might cost
the party a few votes in the heartland of America, where drug
and alcohol use and abuse weren't looked upon too favorably.
As a result, the truth about his drunk driving arrest wasn't
known until just a few days before the election, and his involvement
with drugs will never be fully explored.
When the news of his DUI was made public, his response to
claims that he didn't disclose this information in a timely
manner was that he wanted to protect his children. He claimed
that he wanted to deal with this issue at an appropriate time
in his children's lives. With his twin girls about to enter
college just before the election, I guess he just never got
around to it. It must have been a simple oversight. Placing
the blame for his lack of candor about his drunk driving arrest
on his children appears outwardly as another act of cowardice,
or at least as a clumsy attempt at psychological double talk.
On election night, 2000, we were treated to an intriguing
scene of desperation at the Bush house, with George Jr. frantically
calling his election fixers in order to insure his victory.
A better scene for the world to see would have been a picture
of George Bush just sitting calmly with his family waiting
to hear the will of the people, rather than the panicky picture
of Shrub working the phone at the urging of his politically
greedy family. This media event seemed to illustrate the chilling
panic of cowardice, rather than the stoic stillness of bravery.
When the election was over, he could again have shown confidence
in his campaign and leadership by allowing, or even encouraging
the recount of all votes in any and all formats. His personal
assertion that all votes must be counted, even at risk of
losing a few along the way, would have demonstrated great
courage and justified self-righteousness. Instead of opting
for the high road, the vote re-counting process was stymied
by the Bush team in any and every way possible. They did their
level best to block, delay, disrupt and derail the vote counting
process until time ran out for an impartial review by all
parties. How much courage does it take to run away from fair
and just confrontation? Ask the Bush team.
All of this cringing cowardice occurred before George Jr.
was even sworn into office. With the lack of stability that
can be seen across the planet these days, it seems of vital
importance that the free world has an intelligent, brave and
insightful figurehead at the helm of our global policy. Now
that he is in the Presidential hot seat, the world wonders
if George is, or at least can become, a strong leader for
tough times. Although it appears the Bush has surrounded himself
with high-powered foreign policy personnel, he himself may
still be unsure as to his own ability to keep up with other
world leaders intellectually.
This may lead to overcompensation and defensiveness, which
are sure-fire harbingers of military assertiveness and aggression.
In the long run, this matrix of cowardliness and fear may
trigger events, which could bring on a new world disorder,
something the opposite of his fathers objective. We, as a
people, can hope and pray that we have a strong, courageous,
and thoughtful leader in the White House, but the reality
is that we will probably have to wait until 2004 to find that
So is George W. Bush a strong leader for tough times? His
past cowardice in the face of many daunting personal and public
issues would indicate a future trend for either fear or over
compensation leading to aggressiveness. His current lack of
command over the English language and his inability to grasp
the slender nature of his victory through the Supreme Court
in election 2000 would seem to illustrate the fact that he
is indeed an intellectual lightweight, with no compunction
to change. So what profile are we left with after assessing
our dear Presidents ability to manage this nation? The impression
is threefold: no courage, no intelligence, and no great leadership