Hail To The Chief

by Dr. Wunmi Akintide

Take it or leave it. The truth, however bitter, cannot be hidden forever. Those who love or hate this President do so with passion, because, like most great Presidents, George Walker Bush is a very polarizing figure. But like the Yorubas say, we all still are able to keep some modicum of vision even while we shed tears and there is no way to permanently hide the truth. I did not vote for him in 2000 and did not vote for him again in 2004. But in retrospect, I am glad he won on both occasions and he deserved to win, all things considered. I now believe he truly has what it takes to be President, and I am dropping myself from the list of critics who thought he was a light weight That was sheer blackmail This President has truly earned his wings to fly with some proud legacy into the presidential Hall of Fame in America when all is said and done.

This observation coming from a democrat who had thought the Democrats were robbed in 2000 when, by fluke the man was sworn into office in his very first attempt in what many pundits have rightly described as a cliff hanger. There is no question that the man was grossly underrated by many of us in the opposing party, and probably by much of the rest of the world, I dare say. But if you take an objective and a dispassionate assessment of what this President has accomplished in office and the political myths or stereotype he has already broken in his epic journey to the Presidency, you will have to admit he is definitely above average as a leader. Just reflecting on what he now has a chance to do in four more years in that office, when he will no more be asking for yours and my votes, you have got to give the man credit for leading a successful crusade in the Republican Party in much the same way like Ronald Reagan had done in the 80s.He has more than earned the title of “the “Osagyefo” meaning the victorious leader in Ghana. Does that mean he has been successful in every move he has made as a leader? Not by a long shot. His doctrine of preemptive strike against an enemy before he gets you may have had some positive effects in Iraq for now, but its efficacy or time honored validity still remains to be seen in all its ramifications. He has nevertheless, proved his mettle as a strong leader with a determination not just to follow the beaten path, but to try something new and stick with it, come rain or shine.

G.W. may not have the oratorical talent and verbiage and the bulldog persona of a Ronald Reagan or his self appointed role model in Winston Churchill. He sure brings to the Presidency their sure footedness, their single-minded focus on promoting the cause of Freedom around the world plus their impressive record of achievements as leaders. He appears to me to have learnt the right lessons from his father’s four years in office, and is determined not to repeat some of the avoidable mistakes his father had made. He had tapped on some of the obvious strength of his father’s administration by bringing back to his Government some of the juggernauts that had served his father very well. It is beautiful and it is a lot more fun when you enjoy what you are doing and you are successful. It is even more beautiful when a father, in his lifetime, is afforded the rare blessing of witnessing his own child take after him and meritoriously stepping into his giant shoes, serving the nation in the most powerful job in the world. When that happens in the world’s greatest democratic experiment where leaders are elected and not forced on the people like often happens in a Dictatorship, one feels a special sense of joy and fulfillment like the elder Bush and Barbara must be feeling each time they see their son at the world stage. As a father who values such subtleties, I appreciate very much what this President must be doing for his parents’ ego and happiness as he tries to make them feel more proud. What a good feeling that must be for both sides!

I can tell you that G.W. has made a believer out of me, out of his peers around the world, and believe it or not, out of many democrats and republicans who may be eyeing the presidency after him. G.W is a case study on how to lead by the way he has tried to reshape his Party and to bring them closer to the mainstream of America by making the Party more inclusive. He is evidently trying to leave his footprints on the sand of history, and what that could mean for the younger generation of Americans down the road.

America has thought the world it matters very little how a President comes into office. a President may have won the election by a cliff hanger like JFK had done in 1962. Few may have lost the popular vote, but win the Electoral College vote in a horse race like this President or one or two presidents had done in the past or simply get into office by not being formally elected like Gerald Ford had done, following the resignation of Richard Nixon. What really matters, however, is what each president has been able to do with that awesome power and opportunity given to him by God and the people.

My preoccupation in this article therefore is to examine and explore how this President has used that once-in-a-life-time opportunity and fundamental core values and convictions to pursue his goals in seeking that office and changing America and the world at large for the better.

G.W. will be leaving his Party in a much stronger position than he had met it when he first took office. Today the Republican Party under his leadership now controls the three tiers of Government. He had done so by moving the Party closer to the mainstream, and by correctly analyzing the core values of the majority of Americans, and getting his Party to tilt that way in their policy formulations, without abandoning their core values as a Party. You hardly ever hear George Bush talk about “abortion the way other Republicans talk about it. Instead he often talks about changing the “culture of Life” He is for ever positioning himself and looking for that new equilibrium that would bring more inclusiveness into his party by bringing more Blacks and Hispanics and more minority voters around the country to vote Republican rather than going hook, line and sinker for the Democrats like they used to do before George Bush had come to turn the whole place around. i have paid special attention to his stance on the polarizing issue of gays and lesbians and same sex marriage in particular. G.W. has always managed to find a middle ground that is less threatening to the gays and lesbians in the country and to the shakers and movers within his own conservative base including the powerful Christian Right. His policy of cutting taxes as a formula to galvanize the economy may have had its weak points, but it did prove to be valid at some level, if you factor in the relative strength of the Economy today. G. W. is fast becoming a genius at picking his battles with the Democrats and he goes all out to articulate and defend his position using the awesome leverage of the Presidency.

As a businessman and as the first Harvard Business School graduate to make it to the Presidency, he appears to have come to that job with some unique perspective which informs some of the experimentation he was willing to try in Government. One has to see his plan to privatize Social Security in that context, despite the obvious risk. G.W has been a hybrid of a risk taker and a risk averter in the way and manner he views leadership. I won’t be surprised at all if he goes ahead to name Justice Scalia as the successor to William Reinquist as Chief Justice regardless of what critics may say. His choice of John Bolton as the US Permanent Rep to the UN tell me this man is up to something. He is fully aware the kind of opportunity the Republicans have today may never come again. he is therefore going to go for it and damn the consequence. He is that kind of President.

His Faith-based initiative policy was designed to improve the chances of the Republican Party becoming the majority party in America for a long time to come . That move had brought into the Republican Party a rainbow coalition of voters in such numbers that have given the Republicans the edge in much of the so-called Red States and in a few crucial swing States of Florida and Ohio to mention just a few. It was a smart move. Few Presidents in recent memory, had been able to use the awesome powers of incumbency as effectively as this President. Added to that wizardry was the uncanny ability of G.W to quickly identify the weak points of his opponents and to pull the rug off their feet at the nick of time. Describing himself as the decisive leader who would not put America at risk, he had managed to paint John Kerry into a corner as a flip-flopper, and following that up with television snippets and relentless commercials that had done irreparable damage that John Kerry, for all his last ditch effort, could not shake before the election. He had used such footage at a time America was engaged in a must win war against Terrorism around the world and a fight for the volcanic Middle East Region that any American President whether Republican or Democrat cannot afford to lose. It was a master stroke for Bush and he took full advantage of it knowing that most American voters would traditionally think twice before abandoning any incumbent Administration or President in a time of War, regardless of the temptation to do that. It was particularly easy for him to tag dissenters and critics as people endangering the security of the American troops in Battle. It was a very effective propaganda machine that worked so well for the President in the last election. Even though American troops are now being held to ransom by an insurgency that was fast turning the success story in Iraq into a quagmire, Bush was still able to urge the nation to stay the course, because the ultimate goal was worth the sacrifice being made for the cause of Freedom around the world. Period.

The recent choice of John Bolton as the US Permanent Rep at the UN, like I said earlier, speaks volumes on the resilience and character of George Bush who had set out on a reformist agenda to reinvent the wheel at the UN, and to save the UN from itself and to have her (the UN) move in a new direction by backing their words or sanctions with action. That move had caused him a lot of problem in getting the coalition of the International Community to back him on his unilateral agenda on Iraq until he finally got Iraq to hold an election that for the first time had shown the doubting Thomases around the world that militarily confronting Iraq like Bush had done, without international consensus, may have had its positive effect after all. Bush was again able to link the positive development in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, and the situation in Lebanon and Iran, Saudi Arabia and Egypt with the progress being made in Iraq, as earlier on envisaged by the Bush doctrine. The Bush decision to militarily confront the Talibans in Afghanistan and then Saddam Hussein in Iraq in that order before diplomatically putting the pressure on Iran and then Syria, using the window of opportunity offered him by the terrible assassination of Rafik Hariri, the Prime Minister of Lebanon, was another master stroke. The truth was that George Bush had a well calibrated plan and vision of what must happen, ab initio, and what the role of America and his allies in all of that must be. The bottom line for him is that the supremacy of the United States and his global interest around the world, as the catalyst for Freedom, must forever remain sacrosanct. George Bush is right on his way to securing a very fine legacy for himself as one of the great Presidents of the new millennium, if you ask me.

In summary, I would rather pitch my tent with a lucky President than an unlucky one, if I have a choice in it. The exit of Yassir Arafat was not directly engineered by Bush, but it happened under his watch by luck and that has arguably paved the way for what is happening with the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict as we speak. Yassir Arafat exit could not have come at a more auspicious time for the Palestinian/Israeli conflict and the ongoing Peace Plan earlier on initiated by President Bush.

What else can you say about a President with this kind of profile than to rank him among the best at this point? If you accept that logic, it probably means you and I are not too far apart on our views of Bush at this point in time. I say that with a lot of caution and trepidation, however, because of my recollections of Richard Nixon at one point in his presidency. A day in Politics in this complex society can be eternity.

I rest my case.

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Sabella Abidde May 3, 2005 - 6:11 pm

We’ve agreed on so many issues; and on so many matters, I have publicly and private expressed my respect and agreement. On this particular topic however, I must register my protest and my disagreement: you are off the mark!You have pitched your tent with President Bush. That’s all fine and dandy. That is your prerogative. But believe you me: history will prove you placed your bet on the wrong horse; that you pitched your tent in the wrong camp!

Sabidde Abidde May 3, 2005 - 6:10 pm

To say the current President Bush is “great” is premature. We don’t know. We simply don’t know yet! And we cannot know until a while into the future. Whether he turns out to be great, mediocre or total disaster is left for history and posterity to judge. If his first four years in office is any indication, then, this president cannot be anything but a colossus failure. He is a lightening rod; a divider; and a president bent on causing more harm than good both at home and on the global scene.


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