Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Column 5: Desperation

Desperation on the Right
By Ed Gurowitz

In last week’s Presidential and Vice-Presidential debates, it was clear that the Bush-Cheney ticket and their conservative base are becoming anxious to the point of being desperate. It has been said that truth is the first casualty of war, and the same could be said of politics. Despite Senator Kerry’s unequivocal statement that he would never give any country or institution a veto over US foreign policy, the Bush campaign continues to accuse him of intending to do just that. Despite Kerry’s statement of his commitment to “hunt down the terrorists and arrest or kill them,” the Bush campaign continues to say he would be soft on terrorism. Senator Kerry points to the fact that President Bush is the first president since Hoover to have a net loss of jobs during his term, and President Bush insists that jobs are being created while jobs are being lost at a faster rate than they are being created.

But the most enduring canard of the Bush campaign is the “flip-flopping” big lie. I guess the idea is that if you can’t beat them with your power, baffle them with bull. I teach CEOs that, in fast-changing times, the most important attribute of leadership is the willingness to constantly review progress against changing conditions and to learn and adjust. President Bush seems to think that his ability to remain rigid and to bend the facts to justify his rigidity is a virtue – I believe it is a fatal flaw.

Conservative forces continue to insist on the existence of the WMDs and ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda, despite all evidence to the contrary. Last week the Duelfer report stated unequivocally that there have been no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq since 1991, yet the President continues to justify the war because Saddam might have developed WMD in the future. Everyone from Colin Powell to the 9/11 commission to the President himself has said that there was no connection between Saddam and Al Qaeda, yet Bush and Cheney continue to insist that there was. The “Big Lie” is a known and proven propaganda technique that states that a big enough lie, repeated often enough, will come to be believed by the majority of the people. While, as I said last week, I don’t believe that President Bush is lying –I believe that he believes that what he says is true, the principle is the same. Senator Kerry stands on the facts and the data, President Bush keeps repeating (often stridently), what he believes is true, what he wants to be true, in the hope that saying it will make it so. It won’t.

Senator Kerry has certainly changed his position somewhat on some issues. For me, this is a sign of intelligence and the willingness to adjust his positions to changing facts. He has not changed his values or his fundamental view of what this country should be in the world and where we should go. President Bush claims to be a leader, but as one who has taught and studied leadership for thirty years, I believe that leadership is exactly what has been missing in the White House. President Bush does not lead – he drapes himself in the trappings of leadership and hides his head in the sand of isolationism and jingoism in the hope that he can fool enough of the people, enough of the time. A majority of American voters did not buy it in 2000, and this time the majority should be large enough that the presidency will go to the candidate the voters elect.

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