Monday, September 27, 2004

Bush's denial vs. Kerry's blame disease, and whom you'd rather work for 

The Democrats have picked up on the media's longstanding theme that the Bush Administration refuses to admit that it has made mistakes, and refuses to concede that there is anything wrong in Iraq. Google "Bush refuses to admit" and you get all sorts of hits. I have never understood why these people want to hear a public confession of error as long as changes in policy reflect that the President understands that the first decision has not worked out -- and there have been countless such "silent" changes of policy even in Iraq, which is to the Democrats the signal example of Bush Administration failure. Nevertheless, the Democrats -- and probably some other people -- seem to think that Bush's unwillingness to confess error in public reveals some huge character flaw.

But does it bother these same people that John Kerry demonstrates a persistent knee-jerk tendency to blame his staff, the further down the hierarchy the better? Overtaken by Events (via Spoons) has catalogued John Kerry's history of shifting blame, generally on to the little guy. Remember when he fell down on the ski slopes, and then declared "I don't fall down" and accused his "son of a bitch" secret service guard of sideswiping him? Apart from the arresting stupidity of insulting the guy who is supposed to take your bullet, is this any way for a president to act? What about his claim to Outdoor Life, later withdrawn, that he owned an assault rifle? His staff's fault. The absurd picture of Kerry in a space suit? NASA's fault. I think Overtaken by Events is on to something here....

Of course, Kerry supporters will argue that Kerry's petty mistakes are not equivalent to Bush's denial over the historic problems in Iraq. Perhaps, but we have not yet been so brave as to give John Kerry a serious job where he might make serious mistakes. We can only take his measure by the way he handles the unserious mistakes he can make on the job as a Senator who rarely shows up when it matters.

So which is more troubling? A President who does not admit mistakes but does change course when necessary, or a president who will confess to a problem but reflexibly blame the little guy? I'm not sure I know the answer, but I definitely know which person I would prefer as my boss.


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