Friday, July 13, 2007

President Throwback

Modern leaders are the men and women who are first to get out in front of a parade. Throughout government, politics, business, and the Church, these modern leaders have become masters at spotting trends and then adopting policies and positions that reflect the trend. Perhaps it has always been this way since most people desire acceptance as much or more than they desire righteousness. Probably, periods of relativism, like nowadays, adds to this dynamic.

When we read biographies and auto-biographies of great leaders of the past, we never read about how these leaders distinguished themselves by following or getting out in front of the pack. Stories of great leaders of the past are usually stories about how these leaders battled conventional wisdom, sometimes at great personal sacrifice, in an attempt to counter and change conventional wisdom.

President Bush is a throwback to the past. He just doesn’t fit the profile of a modern leader. Peggy Noonan, and other pundits, seem to think leadership means acting and thinking in ways that please the masses and those who already agree with you. President Bush, like other modern leaders, could achieve high approval ratings by taking and following polls instead of taking and maintaining unpopular stands. He could easily rally conservatives by being more combative with his opponents. Instead, he has chosen to stick to his convictions.

The next President of the United States will be much more popular than the current one. He or she will say most of the things voters want to hear and do most of the things voters want done as America becomes more and more like the rest of the world. Cheerful, positive, and confident, even in defeat, will once again become leadership traits of the past. Someday, my great grandchildren will be inspired by the biography of President Bush.


Rick and Gary said...

Hi David -- If you haven't seen it, I'd highly recommend "High Noon" with Gary Cooper. It's the most watched movie in the history of the White House theater, and it's quite analogous to the way you see Bush (and Bush, no doubt, sees himself)

Hey, we're in Lake Tahoe. What a beautiful place!

David M. Smith said...

Hi Rick,

I haven’t seen High Noon. I will rent it.

I do like the stubbornness of President Bush, but I also respect the way he handles defeat. Most people seem to only like winners, but I like men and women who are just as concerned with the process as the outcome.

You always take the best vacations!

Purple Avenger said...

I too believe Bush will be treated far less harshly by historians 50 years from now.

David M. Smith said...

Hi PA,

Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

It’s not possible to know with certainty how President Bush will be viewed by history or historians. If a President with low character like President Nixon can be rehabilitated, then a President with high character like President Bush shouldn’t have a problem, but a lot will depend on the character of the historians viewing history as well.

I do think I am safe in saying the character of President Bush is more in line with the characteristics we admire in past leaders as opposed to current leaders though. Hopefully, at some point the world will recognize how Islamic extremism is a serious and real threat and must be defeated.

Rick and Gary said...

I guess that history is often rewritten to meet the political needs of the present. So the way in which Bush is seen in 50 years will depend on what sort of role model people are looking for.

Here's an irony: there's a President who was very unpopular with his people but deeply felt he would be seen as a great hero in history. His name was Saddam Hussein. (I'm not comparing Bush and Hussein. I just think it's an interesting parallel)

We were in Lassen Volcanic National Park for the last 3 days. Northern CA sure is beautiful!

David M. Smith said...

Hi Rick,

I agree with you [and your parallel]. We have no possible way of knowing how President Bush, Saddam Hussein, you, me, or anyone will be judged 50 years in the future. The judgment in 50 years will depend on the way history is written today and the values of the people viewing history then. My best guess is based on the values I hold now and my hope is that in 50 years more people than today will hold similar values. I could be completely wrong about the legacy of President Bush.

However, I still believe I am correct in stating President Bush has the character of leaders from the past we tend to admire in our literature and performing arts now.

I know you feel differently. Perhaps, over time, one or both of our views will change. Thanks for staying engaged and being engaging.