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Bob Schoultz
Naval/Academic leader

Bob Schoultz

Captain Bob Schoultz (U.S. Navy, Ret.) directs the Master of Science in Global Leadership at the University of San Diego's School of Business Administration.

Underestimated Strengths

President Bush's leadership has been underestimated

From what I have observed and read, President Bush's strongest virtues appear to be focus, honesty and loyalty. It is my opinion that he has been underestimated as a leader. I believe that with time, we'll get a more balanced picture of him as a president. His strengths as a leader will emerge as we look back on his administration, and evaluate George W. Bush as a man and leader within the context of the successes and failures of his administration.

Those who have worked closely with him tell me of a man who is very well informed, with a gift for identifying, focusing on, and managing those details essential to understanding an issue. He treats people with respect and manages stress extremely well. They also tell me that the caricature of him as being "not too bright" could not be farther from the truth. He is loyal to the people on his staff and leadership team, though arguably sometimes to the wrong people, and for longer than they deserve it. But loyalty is indeed a virtue, and he is trusted by those who work with and for him.

His single-minded focus on his vision for the Middle East and on keeping America safe from further attack will (I believe) only be fully appreciated in the future. While his poor public image has hurt him (and possibly our country), he has not sought public relations advantage from personal acts of compassion, or from political or policy decisions that reflect his compassionate conservative side. In the last 2 years, he has also demonstrated flexibility and an ability to compromise that was not seen in the early years of his administration.

The presidential campaign in 2008 focused on failures of the Bush administration and by association, on George W. Bush's failures as a leader. The country is currently focused on President-elect Obama's leadership style and vision. Beginning this summer, I expect a more balanced view of President Bush as a leader to begin to emerge.

By Bob Schoultz

 |  January 5, 2009; 11:52 AM ET
Category:  Presidential leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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To paraphrase John Keynes, in the long view we'll all be dead.

I recently had a colleague and friend of mine, very smart guy, argue that we actually won the Vietnam war because, well, "it's fine now." That reminds of Bush's (and the author's) argument - that someday we'll all forget about what happened here.

Right now, meanwhile, I could name all of the wasted economic, political, moral and yes, human capital of this war. But I realize those who thought it "worth it" will see that argument as unpersuasive. So I'll be direct - foreign policy isn't some sort of mystical game where results are measured by scattering chicken bones or reading tea leaves. We undertake certain strategies to achieve certain goals.

So, has the Iraq war achieved the goals set out for it in 2003? Acknowledging there were no long-term goals set out in 2003, it would take a throw of the dice to say we'll achieve even the marginal goals the administration has reframed for it now, to leave a functioning government behind without the country descending into civil war. And by far most likely outcome of the upcoming national elections is a Shiite theocracy allied with Iran, and a government that's anything but "democratic". Colin Powell suggested in 2004 that "it's hard to believe that we would replace one dictatorship with another." Well actually, Colin, right now that outcome would be considered a total success, as long as there was only a "livable" amount of violence.

You can see, then, how it would be difficult for people who are actually evaluating what has been accomplished - not just saying Bush has been a great guy - not to think that he was careless at best, and more likely think that he made the single worst foreign policy decision in recent U.S. history.

If that outcome-based approach seems "unbalanced", well, there's always the 100-year, it will be fine someday kind of long view.

Posted by: kszimmerman | January 6, 2009 10:23 PM
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Honest? HONEST? Surely you jest. He has repeatedly broken the law, and lied about it. His administration destroys records it is required by law to keep. His appointees lie through their teeth when confronted with evidence of their misdeeds. HONEST? Please.

Posted by: Rocket88 | January 6, 2009 2:00 PM
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