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Howard Gardner

Howard Gardner

Howard Gardner is the Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Senior Director of Harvard Project Zero.

Failure, With a Few Good Points

George W Bush may or may not be the worst US president that we ever had -- I would have to brush up on my knowledge of James Buchanan! -- but his administration is the worst one in U.S. history. Harding and Grant may have had disastrous effects at home but they did not visit their deficiencies on the rest of the world and upon world history.

Anything positive I'd have to say about George Bush would be faint praise. But since you asked, I would say this:

  • When well scripted, Bush can deliver an effective speech.
  • He can connect to ordinary Americans.
  • He has some positive instincts when it comes to the education of all children.
  • He seems not to be personally prejudiced and gave responsible positions to minorities and women. He also resisted extreme solutions to the problem of illegal immigrants.
  • He can act graciously.

When elected Bush did not have powerful programs in mind, he had no legacy that he wanted to achieve. Absent 9/11 he may well have been a caretaker president, a la Gerald Ford. 9/ll briefly galvanized some leadership potential -- both in speeches he gave and in alliances he formed with reference to Afghanistan -- but this potential was completely dissipated by the disastrous decision to conquer Iraq and remove Saddam Hussein.

I doubt that Bush would have moved in this direction, had he not been surrounded by Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Feith and company. But since Bush is the self-declared Decider, he must take the blame and be recorded in history as a failed leader.

By Howard Gardner

 |  January 5, 2009; 10:39 AM ET
Category:  Presidential leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: George W. Bush -- Not | Next: Strong Start That Fizzled


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Not one word about keeping America safe after 9/11. Failure? You're still teaching at Harvard, aren't you? You still have the freedom to vote for your leaders. Your wife is not ordered by the government to stay away from polling places. Iraq was conquered and Saddam Hussein was removed. So what is the failure? You claim to be an educator and you write gibberish.

Posted by: chatard | January 13, 2009 10:46 AM
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Here's the price of Georgie's "freedom".

Over One Million Iraqi Deaths Caused by US Occupation
Security and Prosperity Partnership: Militarized NAFTA
InfraGard: The FBI Deputizes Business
ILEA: US Restarting Dirty Wars in Latin America
Seizing War Protesters’ Assets
The Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act
Guest Workers Inc.: Fraud and Human Trafficking
Executive Orders Can Be Changed Secretly
Iraq and Afghanistan Vets tell of rapes, torture, brutalities, and killing of non-combatants
American Psychological Association Complicit in CIA Torture
El Salvador's Water Privatization and the Global War on Terror
Bush Profiteers Collect Billions from No Child Left Behind
Tracking Billions of Dollars Lost in Iraq
Radioactive waste from nuclear weapons are being dumped into regular public landfills
Cruelty and Death in US Juvenile Detention Centers
Indigenous Herders & Small Farmers Fight Livestock Extinction
Marijuana Arrests Set New Record
NATO Considers "First Strike" Nuclear Option
CARE Rejects US Food Aid claims the way U.S. aid is structured causes rather than reduces hunger.
FDA Complicit in Pushing Pharmaceutical Drugs
Bush's Real Problem with Eliot Spitzer: The exposure of New York State Governor Eliot Spitzer's tryst with a luxury call girl may have been the result of a planned event. Timing suggests that Spitzer was likely a target of a White House and Wall Street operation to silence one of its most dangerous and vocal critics of their handling of the current financial market crisis. Spitzer wrote a piece in the Washington Post just weeks before the accusations against him emerged.

He and the rest of the traitors in his corpor-political cabal should be in jail!

Posted by: PitchforksandTorches | January 6, 2009 5:14 PM
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Iran's nuclear program is by any credible account entirely peaceful and civilian. In fact, Iran was one of the strongest supporters of the UN's effort to establish a Nuclear Weapon Free Zone (NWFZ) in the Middle East, complying with all of the UN's mandates. Israel and the US are its strongest opponents. If we wanted to keep nukes out of the hands of terrorists, we would have supported this NWFZ. Invading Iraq was never about security, liberation, or peace. It was about establishing control on that region. Iraq is a new field command post in our effort to strategically dominate the Arab world.

Posted by: bsnyder524 | January 6, 2009 5:04 PM
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Howard Gardner, like most liberals couldnt see the forest throught the trees.

Saddam in power in 2009? He had a nuclear program documented to have been more advanced than Irans! With Saddam in power and the Embargo lifted (as France, Russia, and Germany were pushing for) Iraq would have had a weaponized nuke by 2006! Let us not for get that Quaddafi would never have given up his nuclear abitions without Iraq as an example (and thats a fact).

So we would have had Iraq with a bomb, Lybia on its way towards a bomb, still had Korea to contend with, and Iran just around the corner. Oh how safe we would all have been! Lest us not forget that this period also saw G.W Bush peacefully negotiate a cessation of hostilities between nuclear armed Pakistan and India (on the brink of war!) and at the same time forcing Pakistan to abandon their little pet the Taliban and join us in our war on terror!

I would say given all the trials of this administration he has done a masterful job of keeping this nation safe and the world from the brink.

Posted by: Homunculus | January 6, 2009 4:42 PM
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I guess Howard Gardner doesn't agree with the price of freedom. Does he want to negotiate between Hamas and Israel also? If he can get them to kiss and make up then I'll agree with him that getting rid of Sadaam and helping Iraq gain freedom is disastrous. Otherwise, I don't agree.

Posted by: spunupagain | January 6, 2009 2:46 PM
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