Tuesday, November 09, 2010

"W" doesn't stand for wishy-washy

Did you see Matt Lauer's interview with President Bush on NBC last night?

There is much that will be said about Bush's new book, Decision Points, in the coming days. Much of it will likely focus on some of the controversial flashpoints of the Bush presidency: September 11th, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Hurricane Katrina, to name a few.

Instead of rehashing these arguments here, we'd like to focus on one particular factor of last night's interview. Whether you agree with President Bush's decisions or not, we think it's refreshing to hear Bush speak so openly and directly about the tough decisions he made as president. That quality is sorely lacking in American politics these days.

Ever since President Obama captured the nation's attention at the Democratic Convention in 2004, he has evoked comparisons to Lincoln and other great leaders based on his oratory power. But since Obama moved into the Oval Office himself, his words have lost persuasiveness because of his tendency to talk in circles without giving a straight answer or taking decisive action.

If Matt Lauer's interview last night had been with President Obama instead, NBC would have needed a mini-series to answer the same questions.

Americans thought Obama represented "change" because of his soaring rhetoric. Political watchers waxed poetic. Chris Matthews unabashedly said that, when he heard Obama speak, "I felt this thrill going up my leg." But, in hindsight and given the current state of foreign and domestic affairs, we think Americans are much more interested in having their leaders tell it to them straight. They don't have time or patience for a Lincoln-Douglas debate. They want to know the bottom line and they want to know how we're going to fix problems.

People will say Bush's straight talk is a sign that he lacks intelligence. But, we think it's a sign of honesty and trust in the American people. That kind of respect for candor over coddling is something we need more of in American politics these days.

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