By: Alex Gordon
The first of the Presidential debates left me with a mound of questions concerning leadership, since Kerry and Bush display opposing styles. Kerry champions candor, and Bush resolve. But for Bush resolve is more than just a commitment to success in Iraq, it is a commitment to the premise upon which we entered Iraq.
Now, Kerry believes that the war in Iraq was a mistake and that Bush should admit it, but I wonder if our notions about leadership would allow for such candor. As Bush said to Kerry, “What I am I supposed to say to the International community? I made a mistake, now please join me in it?” He makes an interesting point. Can a leader admit a mistake and still be a leader? Highly unlikely, I think. Despite the fact that we are taught from childhood to be honest, that truth will “set us free,” this principle seems forever lost in the political realm. To admit a mistake is to admit weakness – the kiss of death.
We ask the impossible of our leaders. We ask them for pure honesty, but in reality we have set ourselves up for a more conditional kind. We have created a system void of absolute truth. Could Bush admit that he made a mistake and still get re-elected? I think not. Could he admit a mistake and outline a plan for its correction and expect to get re-elected? Again, highly unlikely.
Now, I admit that I would love to see a leader take responsibility for his mistakes. After all, leaders are fallible human beings called continuously to make decisions with far-reaching effects. But we live in a society that seeks perfection, demands perfection, from an inherently flawed system of government. This reality really scares me, not just because of what it tells us about our elected officials, but because of what it tells us about ourselves, about our beliefs, about our lack of resolve when it comes to truth.
E-mail Alex Gordon at: OUTLOUD@outloud.com