Blunt & Honest vs. Sophisticated & Dishonest
President Bush is one the most honest presidents we have had in quite a while. With two notable exceptions, he has followed through on his campaign promises and acted as he advertised. I strongly disagree with some of his acts, but I admire his character. However, President Bush also manages to hack off many people, especially Europeans, with his bluntness.

Compare this with his predecessor. President Clinton was a stereotypical politician, albeit more popular than most, and he frequently lied to people. Yet, he was charismatic, especially in person. I once had the opportunity to hear him speak as part of a relatively small audience (about 200 or so). It was amazing. I had to fight to keep myself from nodding affirmation when he spoke about things with which I strongly disagreed. Despite (or because of) the fact he misled them, Europeans loved Clinton. President Clinton had a much higher approval rating amongst Europeans than he did amongst Americans.

The contrast between a blunt, honest man who has trouble with long speeches and a sophisticated, charismatic politician who could captivate an audience for hours has intrigued me since President Bush was elected. Peggy Noonan recently gave her opinion about President Bush's popularity.

Americans do not think Mr. Bush has a persona to dazzle history, they think he is the average American man, but the average American man as they understand the term: straight shooter, hard worker, decent, America-loving, God-loving.

That does not mean Americans will give him a blank check and say: Go do what you want. It means they'll give him the benefit of the doubt and stand by him with cool eyes as long as they feel it's right for them and the country.

Compare that staunchly Republican opinion of President Bush with that of an influential Democrat, Senator Hillary Clinton.
The lack of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq contradicts years of intelligence indicating Saddam had such weapons, which also was the conclusion of officials in the Clinton administration.

"The consensus was the same, from the Clinton administration to the Bush administration," she said. "It was the same intelligence belief that our allies and friends around the world shared.

"But I think that in the case of the [Bush] administration, they really believed it. They really thought they were right, but they didn't let enough sunlight into their thinking process to really have the kind of debate that needs to take place when a serious decision occurs like that."

So even one of President Bush's fiercest political opponents backhandedly acknowledges that President Bush was telling the truth when he discussed weapons of mass destruction. (The WSJ draws attention to the other side of this if the Clinton administration did not believe this information, were they lying when they made many statements such as these? However, I'm more interested in focusing on President Bush's character.) Is there such a difference between the cultures on the right and left that those on the left would rather have a dishonest man in office who says what they want to hear and then acts differently or an honest man who bluntly says what he is going to do and then acts accordingly?

The UN told President Clinton to stay out of Kosovo despite all the slaughter. President Clinton ignored them, sent in the military, gave NATO its orders, and took care of business. This sounds remarkably similar to how Iraq was liberated (except President Bush first got authorization from Congress). Yet the typical European approves of President Clinton and disapproves of President Bush.

President Clinton gave lip service to the infamously flawed Kyoto treat to Europeans, yet did not even try to use his powerful political influence to get it passed in the US. In fact, after the United States Senate told the president in a unanimous, 95-0 resolution it passed in the summer of 1997 that it will not approve any treaty that does not include developing country emissions reduction commitments, Clinton failed to push to get these changes in the Kyoto Treaty (these changes were not inserted) and then never even bothered to submit the treaty for ratification to the U.S. Senate (thus ensuring the US would not sign on) after instructing Al Gore to sign the treaty. Yet many on the left (especially most the Europeans who write me) complain how Bush has scuttled the treaty simply because he honestly said he would never submit it to the Senate. They still like Clinton, who gave the appearance of agreeing with them by signing the treaty, even though he never submitted it to the Senate, yet disapprove of President Bush's actions. The difference President Bush honestly said the treaty was flawed, would never pass, and he was not going to waste any more time on it while President Clinton was happy to waste everyone's time so long as the matter never came to a vote.

My own conclusions are rather cynical, so rather than share those, I leave it to you to draw your own conclusions.

 
 
Comments

I guess there are those who value character and those who just desire someone with similar policies to represent them.

I suppose some have a different definition of character. A non-webstarian definition.

Posted by: King of Fools | 04/23/2004 - 02:53 PM

I guess it's funny what style works with people. On a policy level it's hard to see a huge difference between the two men, but on a personal level the styles couldn't be more different.

Posted by: Dean Esmay | 04/26/2004 - 07:20 AM

I'm interested in how you can view Bush as "honest." The "war on terror" is based on the idea that "the terrorists" exist as such, when that is in fact false.

Posted by: micah holmquist | 04/27/2004 - 10:46 AM

Micah,
Are you trolling? If not, please elaborate your point because I missed it.

Posted by: Don Quixote | 04/27/2004 - 04:11 PM
 
 
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