Taking Responsibility

The last question of the second presidential debate was this (asked by Linda Grabel):

GRABEL: President Bush, during the last four years, you have made thousands of decisions that have affected millions of lives. Please give three instances in which you came to realize you had made a wrong decision, and what you did to correct it. Thank you.

Bush saw in the question an attack on decisions he had made, and responded to that attack:

That’s really what you’re — when they ask about the mistakes, that’s what they’re talking about. They’re trying to say, “Did you make a mistake going into Iraq?” And the answer is, “Absolutely not.” It was the right decision.

He went on to give a vague account of the only mistakes he would own:

Now, you asked what mistakes. I made some mistakes in appointing people, but I’m not going to name them. I don’t want to hurt their feelings on national TV.

He never answered the question.

I don’t know Ms. Grabel, but I think she asked a very, very important question. I’ve been asking my friends who are Bush supporters for one example of his admitting a mistake; I’m glad to see Bush being asked the question.

The importance of the question to me is not in whether Bush has made mistakes, but in whether he can acknowledge them.

Why is it important? Because part of being human is making mistakes. Because part of being grown-up is admitting our mistakes. The president who won’t acknowledge his mistakes is either lying to himself or lying to us. If he doesn’t acknowledge the mistakes he has made, we can be certain he will make the same mistakes again.

The only mistakes that Bush admits are those where other people presumably “let him down.”

I’ve dealt with a lot of addicts in my practice of law, and I see the inability to acknowledge having made a mistake unless someone else can be blamed as typical of the unrecovering addicts.

One response to “Taking Responsibility”

  1. Dear Mr. Bennett:

    I must say that I am so impressed! I used to live in Houston and moved because every where I looked there were Bush supporters who criticized me for not supporting him. I found myself living in Albuquerque studying Nursing and World Religions. I feel that it is essential that we learn about other cultures and open ourselves up to the beautiful differences in people.

    As a child, I always thought of our president as being someone very intelligent and brave. I now feel that this thought was merely a child’s perspective. I was very disappointed with Bush NOT responding to the question. Making mistakes is what EVERY human being has in common. Being able to admit our flaws and mistakes is very honorable. Sadly, I feel that I can no longer say I believe our president is more educated or honorable than me.

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