Teaching more than skills and knowledge

From today’s weekly radio address by President Bush:

As yesterday’s report shows, we are making progress in changing the culture of America from one that said, “if it feels good, do it; and if you’ve got a problem, blame somebody else,” to a culture in which each of us understands we are responsible for the decisions we make in life.

That line is in the middle of a paragraph, so I admit that I’m extracting a piece of his speech to prove a separate point. But I’m not twisting the meaning. President Bush said that and it applies.

How am I trying to apply it to another issue? The CIA offered inaccurate evidence to prove that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, which led to the war in Iraq on a false pretense. When the prison abuse scandal appeared, President Bush swept it away. Everyone in his administration took a “get over it” posture.

I’d give more examples, but that’s enough in the recent past to prove what I’m about to say. I’m not saying President Bush lied to America because I’m not privy to any information that would make me think that. I don’t think he’s sinister and evil as many others believe. He’s human and makes mistakes like the rest of us.

I do believe that, as the Commander-in-Chief, he is responsible for what happens within the government. By acting on the information from the CIA, he accepted it as truth. When it became clear that the CIA was wrong, President Bush did nothing. When we learned that Abu Ghraib was not an isolated incident, President Bush did nothing. (On both examples, when I say “nothing”, I mean “nothing public with any substance”.)

I offer a wiser example of presidential responsibility with this quote from Harry Truman:

“The President–whoever he is–has to decide. He can’t pass the buck to anybody. No one else can do the deciding for him. That’s his job.”

That applies to the consequences of his decisions, as well. While admitting mistakes as a politician can be dangerous to a re-election, as the President, George W. Bush is granted an amazing power over the reputation of the United States. He must represent that well, regardless of the personal outcome to himself. President Bush can’t encourage teenagers to accept responsibility for their actions when he won’t take responsibility for his own. If he wishes to be the true leader of “traditional values”, he’ll teach through his example rather than his rhetoric words.

(For the full speech that contains the above quote, click here. Please decide for yourself.)

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