Democratic Underground

A Strong Leader For Tough Times?
April 14, 2001
by Bradford Shaw

A Strong Leader for Tough Times

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 politicians.

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 leader.

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 qualities.


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