History Will Tell a Different Story

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Viewpoint

Bush's Farewell Speech.jpg
White House Press

President Bush gave his farewell speech tonight. I was able to watch it via the internet several hours after it was delivered. It was very interesting that in light of all the criticism he has received over the last 8 years of his presidency, he wanted to somewhat define his own legacy.

The way it stands now, he holds the record for the most unpopular president in U.S. history. Yes, his approval rating is worst than President Nixon’s.

But in spite of the poor approval rating, I get a funny feeling that history will tell a different story about his presidency and legacy.

The reason why I say that is because one of the greatest Presidents, Abraham Lincoln was not very well liked by everyone during his presidency. The Civil War and the divisive nature of slavery caused him to lose favor with people.

But funny how over time, people see things differently. Lincoln is now more affectionately known for his honesty and integrity.

As I was watching Bush’s farewell speech, it reminded me of a handful of leadership principles:

1) Leaders will always need to make tough calls, even when it is not popular, therefore; they need to decide by convictions.

2) Leaders will always draw criticism (no matter what), therefore; they cannot please everyone – someone will somehow always get hurt or they will misunderstand.

3) Leaders will always be challenged by people who do not have all the information that you might have, therefore; stick with your conscience.

4) Leaders will always face difficult times, therefore; let your values guide you.

5) Leaders will always be judged more harshly, therefore; live consistently so that people will at least acknowledge your integrity.

Regardless, how you feel about President Bush, one thing we can say about him is that he lived out some of the leadership principles. Now, of course, there are many other principles that he failed to follow, but we cannot deny that he made some differences in his tenure – no terrorist attack since 9/11, championed faith-based initiatives, engaged in the world AIDS movement, and was a staunch supporter of life issues.

Nevertheless, it will be interesting to read what historians will say 50 years from now. If Abraham Lincoln’s story is any indication, then I think history will focus on some of the positives rather than focusing on the blunders.

You can read the transcript of President Bush’s speech and watch the video here