Sunday, November 7, 2010

Dowd on George W. Bush (and Obama)

Here are some key bits from an op-ed by Maureen Dowd in which she reviews George W. Bush's soon-to-be-released book Decision Points. I like the way she find common flaws in both Bush and Obama:
Many presidents go a little loco. Others — even those who insist they want to be transformative and not play “small ball” — fall into periods where they seem strangely disengaged during crises.

It happened to President Obama during the interminable health care battle and intemperate birth of the Tea Party, and again when the BP well gushed.

It happened to W. with Afghanistan, Iraq and Katrina. When they tragically spun out of control on his watch, President Bush was not engaged.

He sometimes treated life-and-death issues like abstractions, not imminent threats, and frequently did not grasp the consequences of his decisions. By the time he got on top of things, many lives had been lost or shattered.

He wasn’t interested in the unglamorous part of decisions, the due diligence required before you plunge into wars that can break the military and expose to our enemies the limits of our power, or the follow-through essential for policies like nation-building in Afghanistan and education reform at home.

The author of “Decision Points” prides himself as The Decider, a man with a great gut and crisp opinions — the opposite of the discursive, deliberative Obama.


When W. could have acted to try to prevent real disasters — Osama’s attack on 9/11, the fiend’s escape at Tora Bora, the financial meltdown — he was oblivious. When he jumped in pre-emptively, as in Iraq, it was because he and Cheney had conjured up fake disasters out of their own paranoia and obsession with proving their toughness.
Being a great leader means you not only want to wear the cape of a superhero, you need to put in the time and effort to make sure you are "up to the task" and are "willing to put in the time" and are "willing to follow up to ensure a job well done". I think Bush and Obama both suffer from self delusion (but Bush way more than Obama). They both want to be the "superhero" but neither has shown that they really can do the follow through, all the hard work to make sure that good deeds are truly done.

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