I written before that I believe one of President George W. Bush’s greatest liabilities is his under developed communication skills. He may possess the right values on many issues, or at least in terms of his desire to do right and do well by the American people and his office. But he just can’t sell his ideas, much less defend his actions.
I believe his second greatest liability as a leader is his seeming unwillingness to admit it when he makes a mistake. While at times he may be admirably resolute, as many more times he is questionably inflexible. He’s not simply confident but possibly stubborn and loyal to a fault. What else can possibly explain the President’s expression of “full support” once again this week for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld? Whatever your politics on the War in Iraq, you have to recognize by now that if President Bush is known for doggedly staying his course, Rumsfeld is a major leaguer in this category.
Rumsfeld’s leadership style is arrogant, imperial, condescending if not demeaning, argumentative, and bellicose. Americans who have watched him the past several years can see this and six retired generals weighed in this week with comparable observations. Why can’t President Bush see it? Or admit it? And if he does know it, as his advisors say that he does, and as I must believe that he does, than why does he persist in his support for a man who has come to embody much of what’s gone wrong with Iraq? Unless President Bush can’t own a mistake or make a course correction.
Six retired generals do not a conclusion make. But surely their comments this week must make us think. These are men taught from their teens to say, “Yes sir,” or “No sir.” The stars on their shoulders attest to their ability to follow and execute orders. These are not rabble rousers, uninformed blokes in a bar, academic liberals, or the front lines of a loyal opposition in another political party. These are military men speaking to military issues, and to a man they question the nature and quality of leadership directing America’s commitment in Iraq.
I’m not suggesting the United States should simply pull out of Iraq. For good rationale or maybe not so good rationale, we’re there, and we must see this through to some kind of stability. But I wonder if Rumsfeld can get us there.
© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2006
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