Skip to comments.Bush Leadership Style: Trust Me (Great read!)
Posted on 04/06/2003 12:39:35 PM PDT by upchuck
[April 3, 2003 evote.com] Everything anyone ever liked or disliked about George W. Bush was on display last week when the president, standing along side British Prime Minister Tony Blair, took questions in a rare press conference at Camp David.
When asked about the length of the war in Iraq, Bush gave a terse response. However long it takes to win, he said.
It could take months? the reporter pressed.
However long it takes, Bush said brusquely. However long it takes. Thats the answer to your question and thats what youve got to know. It isnt a matter of timetable, its a matter of victory.
His British counterpart Blair then proceeded to render what was literally a 500-word response to a similar question, ticking off, in extended sequence, the role of the United Nations, the oil-for-food program, the pressure from the media, the security of Iraqi oil installations, the safety of Iraqi civilian population everything save a weather report for Greater Baghdad and Vicinity.
To which the president said: I have nothing more to add to that.
Bush and Blair that day formed a pairing as unlikely and as oddball as Clint Eastwood and Hugh Grant teaming up for a Jerry Bruckheimer summer popcorn flick. Blair, with his exhaustive eloquence, sounds like the British actor gene-spliced, perhaps, with former president Bill Clinton (albeit a more dour version of both). Bush, on the other hand, is all Eastwood, the iconic presence of the actors Spaghetti Western and Dirty Harry period. Steely eyes, pointed chin, terse sound bites. It has been that way since long before Bush gave the order two weeks ago to attack Iraq. In that time, Bush has appeared before the American public only briefly, and even then, he seemed unburdened with the need to explain himself, detail his motives or elaborate upon his inner thoughts.
This is, of course, no departure from Bushs leadership style since the day he assumed the presidency. Bush has always taken pride in his image as the CEO-president, a smartly dressed executive who lives by synchronized watch and day planner, who delegates tasks where appropriate, and who works out regularly, eats right and gets plenty of bed rest.
But this is not business as usual. Its a time of war. Despite that, the White House has been eager to portray the president as a man who doesnt alter his management style to fit the situation. The guiding template is still operative. The campaign to cast Bush as a leader unchanged by the dramatic events of the past few weeks perhaps reached its apex when White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer claimed Bush didnt even bother to watch news footage of U.S. and British planes bombing Baghdad.
Bush Unphased By Media Coverage
The President may occasionally turn on the TV, but that's not how he gets his news or his information, Fleischer told reporters.
Fleischers message was that this was a president who didnt agonize about news coverage, who wasnt swayed by titanic urban explosions or reports of civilian casualties. That, instead, this was an executive who believed in a plan, and who was content to allow it to unfold. Bush reinforced that image when he left the White House for a weekend at Camp David a few days after the attack on Iraq began.
He was saying, `Im not going to be preoccupied by all of this, says DePaul University political science professor Michael Mezey, an expert on the presidency. He was saying that he wasnt going to respond to what some television commentator might say. This was a way of saying that we know what were doing.
Indeed, the White House has endeavored make sure that Bush does not become the face of this war in the way Lyndon Johnson came to embody the quagmire in Vietnam or the manner in which Jimmy Carter ultimately became transformed into a figure of impotence in face of the Iranian hostage crisis. LBJ stayed up all hours, fretting over the war in Vietnam and micromanaging military decisions. Carter, in effect, became a hostage himself, rarely leaving the White House. The image became so entrenched in the publics mind that when two U.S. helicopters collided in the desert on an failed rescue attempt, it was if Carter had been piloting both of them.
Lower Profile For The White House In Gulf War II
Even Bushs father, the first President Bush, referred to Saddam Hussein so often during the 1991 Persian Gulf War that the conflict appeared to take on the aura of steel cage death match between the two of them. His son, on the other hand, seems content to let the Pentagon and the State Department do the fronting. It is Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, Richard Myers, who have, day after day, articulated the American justification for the war in Iraq, defended the war plan and addressed public concerns, with the president emerging to speak only rarely.
I dont see any evidence that the president is obsessed by this, says David Crockett, a political science professor at Trinity University in Texas and author of the book The Opposition Presidency. There is a negative connotation to a president having approval over tactical decisions. Hes letting the military and his national security advisers manage this thing.
That has its benefits. The recent wave of criticism centered on the pace of the war has been leveled directly at the Pentagon, even though it was the White House and Bush that had to sign off on any invasion plan. When Fleischer was asked at a press briefing Tuesday about the presidents response to criticism of the wars progress, he demurred, referring to Myers earlier statement on the issue.
When Bush has spoken, it hasnt been with reference to European opposition to the war, the tension between the Kurds and the Turkish army in Northern Iraq, troop movements or air power. He leaves the details to Rumsfeld and others. The president has dealt instead in broad strokes, utilizing vivid imagery without much subtlety. We had reports the other day of a dissident who had his tongue cut out and was tied to the stake in the town square, and he bled to death, Bush said at Camp David last week. Thats how Saddam Hussein retains power.
Keep It Simple, Stupid
And thats Bush to the core. Everything comes down to the struggle between Good and Evil. As the fighting draws closer to Baghdad, Bush has increasingly offered the plight of the Iraqi people as the primary rationale for the war, with the goal of disarming Iraq of as-yet- undiscovered weapons of mass destruction taking a decidedly back seat. In remarks Monday in Philadelphia, the president made a single shadowy reference to weapons of mass destruction. His theme, alternatively, was one of freedom and liberation
Here in the city where America itself gained freedom, I give this pledge to the citizens of Iraq: We're coming with a mighty force to end the reign of your oppressors. We are coming to bring you food and medicine and a better life. And we are coming, and we will not stop, we will not relent until your country is free, Bush said to applause.
Bush, too, has made clear that he is not one for hand-wringing. He gives no hint that he has struggled with the momentous decisions with which he has been faced. In the early stages of the war, the White House provided a detailed description of Bush approving the decision to try and take Hussein out with a targeted missile strike. The president signed off on the plan and retired to bed and presumably to untroubled sleep. No Clintonian policy chats at 3 a.m. for him. Hes brief. He uses simple words. He has a practiced steely resolve, Mazey, the DePaul professor, says. He shows no second thoughts, no regrets. Thats pretty unique. With other presidents at war, you could see it in their eyes, the toll of putting American soldiers at risk.
It may have been that austere image of a Man Without Doubt that pushed many Americans who harbored considerable reservations about the conflict before it began to jump on board behind the president. Opinion polls indicate that an overwhelming majority of Americans support the war, even in the face of greater than expected casualties. A New York Times/CBS News poll conducted last week showed that about 70 percent of Americans surveyed supported the war despite a number just as high saying the Bush administration hadnt done an adequate job of explaining the cost involved, how long the war would last or how many American troops could be killed. Americans want to believe the president and want to trust him, Crockett says.
Wait And See: The Post-War Bush
But it cant stay that way forever. In the corporate-speak the administration favors, the president still must answer to the bottom line. As DePauls Mezey says, Its one thing to be resolute, its another thing to bring the troops home.
Thats where Bushs public persona carries its greatest risk. While Bushs conduct allows him to escape some accountability for setbacks in the course of the war with Iraq, he wont be able to escape responsibility for the end result. Should the war become extended, and should American casualties mount, Bush could face charges that he was out of touch or overly distant from decisions, much as Ronald Reagan was portrayed during his second term in office. And much like his father was described after the end of Persian Gulf War, when the economy bottomed out.
This has become a legacy maker or breaker, Crockett says. Hell either reap the rewards or suffer the consequences.
[James Oliphant is a former Washington, D.C.-based writer on law, politics and government who now lives in the American Southwest]
God bless President Bush.
Now if he'd just do something about all the criminal aliens...
Oh, yeah, that President also won the Cold War. Good to know that Dubya is following a good role model.
P.S. I'm thinking of Ronald Reagan.
John Wayne plus Dean Martin
God Bless President George W. Bush who will indeed be one of America's most respected, greatest, boldest, strongest leadership president.
Powell could have had the Presidency handed to him on a silver platter in 1996 but he turned it down.
Unless the economy shows some signs of life before summer of 2004, especially in new hiring, Bush is still vulnerable.
The good news, however, is if the economy surprises to the upside, Bush will be reelected by a landslide and his coattails will add 5 to 10 more Republican Senators!!
NO! Cheney may decide to be replaced, maybe by Condie Rice, but Please Lord, not by Powell! He would be a RINO at best, and only came kicking and screaming to support GW in this war. Why in the world would you want Rummie to step down. He is a national treasure, and one of the smartest guys in the Administration.
He won't run. He's completely p-whipped by his wife, who is 100% convinced that any black man with a real chance at getting elected to either position will be shot. He's promised her he'll never seek the presidency.
Besides, we all know what loyalty means to GWB, and how he gives it back in return. Unless Cheney falls over dead or resigns of his own accord, he's going to be on the ticket right next to Bush in 2004.
Bush Doctrine Unfolds :
|To find all articles tagged or indexed using Bush Doctrine Unfold , click below:|
|click here >>>||Bush Doctrine Unfold||<<< click here|
|(To view all FR Bump Lists, click here)|
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.