Part of the George W. Bush legacy was his tremendous leadership following 9/11. Following the worst terrorist attack in our nation’s history, President Bush united the nation, responded decisively, and sounded a calming tone that told every American – Republicans, Democrats, and Independents alike – “we’re going to be okay.” And we were. To date, there has not been another attack on our soil.
Perhaps President Obama could learn a thing or two from his predecessor, whom Candidate Obama derided so vehemently during the 2008 presidential campaign. During the worst economic crisis in generations, this President has been far from decisive. Instead, the President has missed the mark at a number of critical junctures as the crisis continues to unfold.
In February, Treasury Secretary Geithner turned in a less-than-stellar performance to the Senate Banking Committee that did little to inspire confidence in the President’s plans for economic recovery. The stock market responded unfavorably. At the start of the stimulus debate, President Obama’s hands off approach allowed House Democrats to author the bill and load it with pork for a number of pet projects. As a result, the bill only narrowly passed with the help of a Republican triumvirate in the Senate. This week, the AIG bonuses scandal cast further doubt over the President’s ability to take control of the economic response. In an attempt to buy time and change the subject, the Administration has resorted to pettiness over manufactured issues such as the Rush Limbaugh dustup.
On September 20, 2001, President Bush declared in arguably the greatest speech of his presidency, “whether we bring our enemies to justice, or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done.” Seventeen days later, American forces swarmed Kabul by air and the opening rounds of the Global War on Terror had begun.
The current economic crisis commands similar resolve. The American people are growing restless, and the need for leadership is four months overdue. Chairing summits, delivering speeches, and talking to Jay Leno about the problems of real Americans is not real leadership. Perhaps President Obama’s approval rating would be on the rise if his actions met his words the way President Bush’s did in the weeks and months following 9/11.