We’ve had eight years of mess after mess created by a president who was so filled with hubris that he never considered whether he might be wrong. Trust Vladimir Putin? Oh, sure! Bush just followed his gut and never questioned it. Appoint a man whose entire executive experience is running Arabian horse shows to head emergency response for the entire federal government? Oh, sure! Just one look was all it took for Bush to sense that Brownie was doing a heckuva job. And then there was the unnecessary and factually unfounded decision to commit the nation to war against Iraq. As he prepared to inform the country of his decision on national TV, right after the makeup lady was done with him, George W. Bush pumped his fist and exclaimed, “I feel good!” No self-reflection. No reconsideration. No second-guessing. In Bush’s world, anything less than supreme hubristic self-assuredness would be weak and misleaderish.
We are at a decision point as a nation. Do we follow the last eight years of Bush leadership with four more? Or do we take a different approach?
With this question occupying my mind, my eyes popped to see the following exchange between Charles Gibson and Sarah Palin, the person who would be President in the actuarially likely event of John McCain’s incapacitation or death:
Charles Gibson: Can you look the country in the eye and say, “I have the experience and I have the ability to be not just Vice President but perhaps President of the United States of America”?
Sarah Palin: I do, Charlie, and on January 20 when John McCain and I are sworn in if we are so privileged to be elected to serve this country, will be ready. I’m ready.
Charles Gibson: And you didn’t say to yourself, “Am I experienced enough? Am I ready? Do I know enough about international affairs? Do I, will I feel comfortable on the national stage to do this?”
Sarah Palin: I didn’t hesitate. No, I…
Charles Gibson: Doesn’t that take some hubris?
Sarah Palin: I answered him “Yes” because I have the confidence in that readiness, and knowing that you can’t blink. You have to be wired in a way of being so committed to the mission, the mission that we’re on, reform of this country and victory in the war, you can’t blink. So I didn’t blink then, even, when asked to run as his running mate.
There you have it. In leadership style, Sarah Palin is another George W. Bush. To Bush and to Palin, self-examination is a weakness. To Bush and to Palin, getting it right is less important than not blinking. To Bush and to Palin, being sure is less important than feeling sure.
Just look where that’s gotten us over the past eight years.
Do you really want another four years of that?