Friday, June 17, 2005

Where Have They Gone?

Our country is in sore need of good politicians. As I look around, I struggle to find strong examples of good leadership in this country. Dianne Feinstein, Barbara Boxer, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Harry Reid, Howard Dean, Bill Frist, Tom Delay, George W. Bush, the list goes on and on. None of these people are very good leaders. In fact, they're all jokers. We all acted shocked and dismayed when we read that Bush and Kerry were both underachieving students. Really, should we be surprised? When was the last time we had an election where the choice was clear?

I'm a bit strange. I actually liked both Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. I felt that both were fantastic leaders, despite their personal failings and political choices. I'm often embarrassed by George W. Bush. Sure, I don't believe in many of his policies, but let's put that aside. His "folksy" command over the English vernacular is simply appalling. I live in a state where our current senators are a joke. I'm moving to a place where the situation is no different. Keep in mind, I agree with many of their views, yet I can't help but cringe when I think of them.

The only politician that meets my high standards is Barack Obama. A close friend recently sent me this speech that Obama delivered at Knox College. It's sad that I can only think of one politician that I respect.

Where have all the great leaders gone? Do you agree with my premise? Has the quality of leadership dropped in this country? If so, why? If you disagree, who do you identify as a great leader and why?

18 Comments:

Blogger European said...

I once read that Mother Teresa said that God showed her all these wonderful, important, smart people - the Einsteins etc. of our time, but that they were aborted.
Think what you will about Mother T. and visions from God, but I find the thought really intriguing.

4:17 PM  
Blogger Kat said...

I'm currently reading Bill Clinton's autobiograhy, 'My Life' and the more I read it, the more amazing I find him to be. Sometimes, I think great leaders are born, not made, to lead. Call me silly. :)

5:23 PM  
Blogger Z said...

Leadership is lacking for the same reason Brad & Angelina are talked about more than foreign policy.

No epic personality can sway the masses without the benefit of circumstance.

7:02 PM  
Blogger RT said...

Mmmm... Maybe it's more a matter of perspective? "Has the quality of leadership dropped in this country?" you ask, but I suspect that a lot of the great leaders of the past weren't as great as we make them out to be today. Take Reagan for example, he was a pretty decent President, but at the time (especially during his later years) we knew that he wasn't really running the country at all, it was mostly his advisors. And even at his best, there was all kinds of things that people disliked him for.

Not only does time and distance have a way of clouding our judgment, but it also gives us a different view that we may not have had at the time. People thought Einstein was a nut at the time...

7:46 PM  
Blogger Davydgrey said...

This can be answered in one word -- television.

8:13 PM  
Blogger FNPhd said...

There are plenty of good ones: (whether you disagree with them or not, they are principled predictable and effective.)

Chuck Hagel,
John McCain,
Newt Gingrich,
Arlen Spector,
Joseph Biden,
Tom Ridge, and
Colin Powell.

Maybe you could stretch things to include Mitt Romney, Ed Rendell, Voinovich, etc, but probably not.


Now, some of you probably read the recent TNR piece on Hagel or can't forget Gingrich in '94 (but he now accuses the GOP of being as corrupt as the Dems he ousted in '94), but if you get past those prejudcies, these are fundamentally good leaders.

8:33 PM  
Blogger Raine said...

Okay, this is sad, V. I can't think of anyone I'd consider a strong national leader. As a great leader for a city, I'd say Rudy Giuliani wins that hands down. I can only hope that Mitt Romney proves to have the charisma and vision necessary to motivate voters (and overcome bias) on a national level.

10:22 PM  
Blogger The Lazy Iguana said...

I miss Bubba. Really, was he so bad? Yea, he had a weakness for chubby interns, but was that too horrible? I mean look at what we have now.

Anyway, check out my petition!

www.onlinepetition.com/green001/petition.html

The petition is for all members of congress to wear CLOWN SUITS. After all, this is what they are. Clowns. The whole lot of them.

1:30 AM  
Blogger James d. said...

It's tough to find those great leaders, especially without the distance of time and the advantage of hindsight, but there are some out there. However, most of the national leadership is not that.
One note on Reagan: While he did have a large reliance on advisors, one of the problems many (including Woodward, I believe) have noted about Carter was his micro-management, especially on things that really shouldn't have demanded a president's attention. Also, there have been some papers found in recent years of Reagan's that showed his own notes on many policy matters, often before they became enacted into policy. So he wasn't totally out of the loop on everything.

1:31 AM  
Blogger Fred said...

First, Bush: I agree with your assessment on his deficiencies. What I do like about him is his ability to make a decision, and stick by it. I was absolutely appalled at how many times Kerry changed his position based on party politics or poll numbers. Sure, some would argue this is also one of Bush's failures (stubbornness?), but a strong leader needs to have this quality.

I tend to agree with fnphd - the best leaders are people like McCain. They are willing to make take on issues that are not popular with the political elite and frequently will go against their own party.

Now - do we have a great leader today? Like Raine, I really can’t think of one right away. Lots of really good ones, but none that stands out from the rest.

9:00 AM  
Blogger BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

Hindsight and poltics can indeed be daunting these days.

Somedays, I think I liked Richard Nixon. He ended the war, the draft, and changed the nature of the gold standard.

It is all relative, I suppose.

9:38 AM  
Blogger RT said...

Here's a sad, but sobering thought for ya: What if the people who could be the great leaders of this country stay away from politics and the leadership roles because they know what a farce our system has become? Or maybe, they just realize that they can do more good on a personal level?

10:04 AM  
Blogger thc said...

The desire to run for public office is dependent upon ego. The brightest people I know don't need that kind of public affirmation, hence those who choose politics as a career are only moderately intelligent and have huge egos.

10:22 AM  
Blogger RT said...

Oh! Another good point THC! I wasn't even thinking about the ego factor, but it does make sense.

11:26 AM  
Blogger A Fashionista said...

OH MY GOD VAVOOM YOU TOOK THE WORDS RIGHT OUT OF MY MOUTH. I met Barak about a year and a half ago and thought WOW what an awesome aura he has. I've been a fan ever since and think he'd be the best prez since Abe. He'd be just capital in the capital.

12:44 PM  
Blogger dreadcow said...

AHHHHHHHHHHHHH Obama is such a commie...

12:50 PM  
Blogger Moose said...

Great leaders have been replaced by people who are only trying to stay in office for the next term.

1:17 PM  
Blogger An80sNut said...

I look at this with a lot of viewpoints. People with money tend to be the ones that can run for higher public office (no matter what party.) Most of our leaders have become polarized by their party and many only stand for the opposing view of their rivals. It is all about Us and Them now. I think that's why I stand out of those long shadows in hopes to get some sunlight.

Right now, I think we have many people that see the problems in the system and aren't going to get involved. Personally, I'd like to see Thomas Sowell in office but he's too smart for that.

1:13 AM  

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