January 18, 2009
Angry, Defiant, and Replete with Poor Grammar
I didn’t see Bush’s farewell address on TV on Thursday, but Mariquita and I did see his press conference on Monday. It was exactly what you’d expect it to be and quite frankly just like the last eight years: angry, defiant, and replete with poor grammar.
I’ve said repeatedly that I think Bush has destroyed the Republican party and will go down in history as one of the worst presidents this country has ever had, if not the worst. It’s not surprising that his tone at the end is as the title of this post describes. But it is a shame. His whole administration is a shame. The really sad part is that it didn’t have to be. People make mistakes — even really bad ones. And they can recover from them and go on to do great things in life if two conditions exist:
1. They solicit feedback on their performance, and
2. The internalize and act on that feedback
Bush not only didn’t “get” these two points; he seemed to revel in them. “Not paying attention to polls” and “At least you know where I stand” seemed to him to be pillars of strength as opposed to pillars of ignorance and complete and total lack of intellectual curiosity. You don’t have to try to win a popularity contest to find out when something is going wrong on your watch. And you can be bold, admit a failure, learn from it, and move on instead of just digging yourself deeper and deeper into the same hole.
I read a great article in The Economist last night that summarized its current view of Bush’s legacy, and in fact it noted a bunch of areas in which Bush appeared to learn from his mistakes, though he probably wouldn’t phrase it that way. The fact that his second administration did do more to reach out to key allies in Germany and France is one example. And to the article’s credit, it even noted some of Bush’s accomplishments, or at least the areas in which his thinking was right — those those are just dwarfed in the end by his failings.
At any rate, I’m delighted he’ll be leaving office on Tuesday. Inauguration day is one of my favorite days in America, and I look forward with optimism to the incoming administration as I always do, regardless of how I voted.
But as for Bush, I think I’d rather have the pilot of that USAir flight as my commander in chief. Now there’s a guy (I don’t even know his name, and I probably never will) who had a quick grasp of a difficult situation and produced a brilliant and elegant solution in short order!