Time to (Finally) Move On, Overdue Group Therapy for Bush Haters

During the first week lull in class work, I had the good fortune of gaining afternoon access to a stationary bike in Huntington Gym (no small feat) that happened to be in front of television coverage of President Bush’s speech at Kansas State University. Maybe it was just the endorphins, but watching the President offered insight into the popular perception of this presidency. In light of this and the recent State of the Union address, I feel it is time for a large number of relatively rational and thoughtful Americans to face their collective demon, the unsettling reality that seems to keep them awake and restless in the night. Go ahead, say it: President Bush is not a good public speaker.Wow, what a relief that was. Now that this therapy session has begun, it is time to consider the deeper, more damning issue facing many Americans, many of them college-aged and thereabouts – the inability to uncouple the President’s style, or lack thereof, from his intelligence, policies and integrity as a human being. This disturbing fad is the result of people’s being duped, or duping themselves, into the emotional, self-satisfying notion that the President of the United States – the figurehead of the most influential country in the history of the world – is of below-average intellect and is incapable as a leader. It seems that this idea is often accepted despite the fact that under any analytical scrutiny, it is completely vacant of substance. To be clear, I do not mean to defend President Bush’s speaking style or personal image. Clearly, this President is not the greatest scholar to occupy the White House and his inability to articulate his own policies to the public will certainly bring him into the history books. But these issues are only small factors when one considers the operational success of the country as a whole. Personally, President Bush is well beyond average intelligence and possesses adequate capacity to lead this country successfully. Common sense and life experience unmistakably demonstrate that social style has no positive correlation with success, any more than a Grade Point Average does. Yet these two factors are routinely passed off as knocks on the President. In a similar light, basic history shows that the smartest men have not made the best presidents, (e.g. Jimmy Carter), while others have thrived in the role, such as former actor, Ronald Reagan. The long-term risk is that this blind cynicism toward the President is a generational pitching wedge away from indifference to domestic and world events. Someday a generation of Americans, including a large segment of the educated middle and upper class, will have removed themselves intellectually and civically from participation in their government. In their absence, the interests of the vocal minority – many of them flagrantly detrimental to the identity and prosperity of America – will overrun the values of the silent majority. The makings of this reality are seen today in both the pervasiveness of the Congressional special-interest lobby system and the pathetically low election-day turnouts among young Americans. As college students, as Colgate students and as Americans, we need a rational world perspective and participation in our democracy. Any political view, especially opposition, is constructive because it entails both knowledge and introspective thought.So go ahead and despise President Bush, his administration and his policies – oppose every single idea that comes from the White House – but for the sake of the continued progress of American politics, pass on the character cheap-shots as political substance – even if, six years later, he still insists on saying nu-ular.