One of the greatest mistakes of Ronald Reagan's presidency was to bow to his handlers, who suggested that George H. W. Bush would be a good vice president. A man eminently more qualified to be president than his son, he nonetheless was not the best presidential material of his time, and worse, his presidency likely paved the way for
A much greater qualification for public office than one's political viewpoints is a healthy and diverse understanding of the world around us, as well as a respect for others' opinions. In this regard and many others, John F Kennedy runs rings around George W. Bush.something that otherwise would have seemed laughable--the election of his uncouth son to the highest office in the land.
In late 1999 or early 2000, I was dismayed at the willingness of so many of my fellow Republicans to jump on the Bush campaign bandwagon to support a man who clearly had no bona fides to qualify himself to run for president. It occurred to me at the time that politicians of any stripe will regularly divorce themselves from principle, honesty, and integrity when it seems their bandwagon has the biggest chance of steamrolling to success.
It runs in my mind that Abraham Lincoln was once asked why he surrounded himself with political opponents and people smarter than himself. His reply was something along the lines that if he had people whose views differed from his and who were smarter than himself, that could only be a benefit to his presidency.
John F. Kennedy surrounded himself with such individuals, whereas George W. Bush seems to have disdained them. JFK was well read and had a wide variety of interests. W has an army of handlers who filter the news for him, ostensibly because he doesn't want his presidency to be affected by his opinions.
In her seminal work, The Age of American Unreason, Susan Jacoby provides an elegant contrast between the well-read President Kennedy of the 1960's and the boorish Bush of four decades later, along with a stinging endictment of those who stooped so low to elect such a man--twice.
...the image of Kennedy as...someone who represented what Americans might aspire to for themselves or, more likely, for their sons--was a vital part of his appeal. Cultural literacy in a presidential candidate was seen [in the 1960's] as a desirable trait by the public... Yet forty years later, when college graduates make up a much larger proportion of the American population than they had in the early sixties, voters entrusted the nation's highest office to a man whose most distinctive personal trait has always been an absolute lack of intellectual curiosity.In other words, with all
The Age of American Unreason, pg 284
of our education, we have become...
John F. Kennedy surrounded himself with individuals of great intellectual talent, whereas George W. Bush seems to have disdained them.
George W. Bush had scarcely set foot outside of the United States when he was elected president. He once taunted a member of the press in Paris who had the fluent capacity to ask French President Jacques Chirac a question in French. He has been known to refer to the Spanish language as Mexican. While political giants like FDR, Reagan, and JFK appealed to Americans in rational and reasonable terms, Bush appeals to their emotions. While all other Presidents in this century had developed the talent for fine elocution, George W Bush still cannot pronounce "guv'mint" and "nucyaler". Similarly, Susan Jacoby says
When other twentieth-century presidents, Republican and Democratic, drew on the resources of the intellectual community, they hired staff members who represented a relatively broad spectrum of opinion... Bush, by conrast, chose only those intellectual--and non-intellectual--advisers who came from the extreme right fraction of the conservative spectrum.I am opposed to Embryonic Stem Cell research primarily because it seems like a colossal waste of money, and because adult stem cell research has shown much more practical promise. George W. Bush is opposed to it allegedly on purely religious grounds, thus giving religion a bad name. Rather than peopling his stem cell research commission with experts of differing opinions, "distinguished bioethicists and scientists" were "excluded from the panel" simply for their contrarian views.
The Age of American Unreason, pg. 295
Several people I know, including many Utahns, voted for George W. Bush twice. That is beyond my comprehension to understand how that happened (I have never voted for a Bush or a Clinton), but if they apologize, I will forgive them for it.
A much greater qualification for public office than one's political viewpoints is a healthy and diverse understanding of the world around us, as well as a respect for others' opinions. In this regard, John F Kennedy (and Bill Clinton, for that matter) run rings around George W. Bush.
My hope is that history will vindicate the growing number of people who have come to the opinion that George W. Bush was one of the least qualified persons ever to occupy the office of President of the United States.
Let's hope we can do better in 2008.