Surf’s Up, Dudes. But Jane’s Hangin’ Loose On the Sand.

I’ve ridden the wave. The Liking-George W. Bush-Not-Liking George W. Bush wave.

 The Matt Lauer special that ran last night has me questioning the ride. Each crest and trough was determined by what I was gleaning from the news media. Whether is was Fox News singing his praises or SNL parodies or CNN quick to point out moments that seemed like weaknesses in the poor man.

These little soundbites didn’t paint an accurate picture. And logically, I knew that then and I know that now. Yet I still formed an opinion. Good. Bad. Indifferent. It was all I could go on.

Last night, George W. Bush spoke with the candor one can only use after a president leaves office. After the fact. In hindsight. And it wasn’t all pretty. He acknowledged his failures and weaknesses. He spoke of what he would do differently and what he wouldn’t change.


 “You may make mistakes, but you are not a failure until you start blaming someone else.”–Anonymous.

I was impressed with his candor.  His honest reactions to criticism and blame. And he never blamed anyone else for his choices. He never used Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld as scapegoats. He owned each and every action he made as President of the United States.

He spoke with such sincerity of the two sides to every decision he made. With some of his toughest decisions, he laid out the facts he had and the options he considered. Then he explained why he chose option A or option B.

What surprised me the most was my own reaction after the interview had ended.  Logic tells us that humans are fallible. That presidents make mistakes. But we expect our world leaders to be perfect. We want our presidents to be perfect. Listening to President Bush last night I began putting myself in his shoes and wondering what in the world I would do, given the same mind-boggling situations.  I decided that I would have made some of the same mistakes and that maybe some of his mistakes weren’t mistakes after all.

Walk a mile in a man’s shoes. I remind myself of this all the time. Who are we to criticize someone when we don’t have all the facts? Isn’t it impossible to form an opinion when the media chooses what we hear? Who am I to deem President Bush a success or a failure?

President Obama deserves the latitude and consideration that I didn’t afford our last president. Deciding whether I agree or disagree with his policy and choices will be difficult without hearing from him exactly how he came to his decisions. But it’s my responsibility to sift through the, albeit biased, information and come to a compassionate conclusion. I need to remind myself that hindsight is 20/20 and to be careful in my judgements.

Instead of riding the media wave, I need to step back onto the sand and take in the bigger picture.


Filed under Lessons Learned, Observations, Politics

13 responses to “Surf’s Up, Dudes. But Jane’s Hangin’ Loose On the Sand.

  1. jterrill

    Believe none of what you hear and 1/2 of what you see. Benjamin Franklin
    Good words to live by!

  2. It’s so easy to judge. But we rarely think critically about what our leaders do. Good stuff, Jane.

  3. Yes, we should keep open minds. That is so much easier to do when you have access to accurate information, when you can weigh both sides and come to a conclusion. Our media does not make that easy anymore. I’m certain I would make many more mistakes than any of our presidents. Which is precisely why I would never run for president, or any other high office.

  4. It’s hard to be open-minded with our own perspectives clashing against what is going against it. But maybe that’s the best time.

  5. The inaccuracy’s surrounding President Obama are astonishing. Starting with the truth about certain established facts..makes it easier to have more energy to delve deeper into understand the more complicated issues with an open mind More time on Immigration issues…Less time on “Is the President a US citizen.” Journalist could help us sift through the issues by going back to giving us news we can trust. News based on accuracy. News based on the truth.
    The blame game, what a waste of time. You are right we only do only see a very small piece of the whole…hindsight is 20/20 for both our leaders and the ordinary citizen.

  6. Brilliant and well-written post! You’re so right. We jumped to conclusions, and it doesn’t help that we have a media that is always trying to sensationalize every damn thing.

  7. Jayne

    I heard yesterday that President Bush has said he will only be truly judged long after he is gone. I think that’s probably true because only then will historic papers be written about his period in office without political bias and without the bandwagon mentality that is the trademark of our modern media.

    People like to see things only in black and white terms, forgetting that the grey areas in between are filled with many strands of argument on any major decision we make. Presidents and Prime Ministers, like the rest of us, can only use their best judgement and its worth remembering that the information they have access to us is way, way more complex (and scary) than any of us realise.

  8. Steven Harris

    If only we could have 20-20 foresight when it comes to making political decisions. As for Mr Bush, he was regularly painted in a comic light over here in the UK. He has recently come out in defence of ‘waterboarding’ as part of the interrogation of prisoners. That’s just not funny at all and has changed my opinion of him for the worst 😀

  9. Just want to point out that in the book he still mentioned WMD as one of the reasons why invading Iraq was the right thing to do…

  10. I’d have to add that he seemed more upset by Kanye West’s comment that he didn’t like black people than he did by invading the wrong country and wrecking the economy. He still considers Cheney and Rumsfield among his best advisers.

    He wasn’t wise then, he isn’t now. He wants to sell books and play around with history.

    • I took it that he was so upset about West’s comment because it was an attack on his character. Something he felt was untrue. On the other hand, the criticisms of his handling of Iraq/Afghanistan/economy/etc. were criticisms based on fact and reason. He seemed fine if you disagreed with his reasoning – he was just making a decision based on the facts he had. He was not fine with people attacking his character based on no fact or personal knowledge.

  11. Ok, I’m going to stay out of this a little bit. Mostly because I’m not even American but also because I agree that Presidents and Senators and Congressmen and Judges, etc. are ALL HUMAN BEINGS. We are falliable. And so I forgive a lot.

    Also, I watched a movie called Frost/Nixon. Nixon was a tough cookie. He made mistakes. He eventually admitted it. Does that change the effects of his mistakes? Nope. We’re all human, just some of our mistakes have broader implications.

  12. I think we all like to play “armchair president” and have little idea what the job really involves. Whether you liked W or not, you have to give him points for havig the integrity to not criticize his successor. He’s vowed not to pass judgment on any sitting US president.

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