Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Once Lost... 

President Bush's poll ratings have slid to new depths. Whether or not you like him, he is a glaring example of how hard it is to keep reputation and credibility and to win them back should you lose them. It was a little more than a year ago that he won reelection with enough votes to make a public vow that he was going to spend his new-found political capital. He never had the chance. The capital was taken from him swiftly, as political enemies and the public turned on him. Today, it is questionable whether he has much reputational capital left. Even members of his own party are turning on him.

Bush's plunge is a reminder to be careful about how you think and talk about reputation. There is no "reputation or goodwill bank" into which you make deposits. People may stay with you for awhile if you have troubles, but there is no guarantee, especially if an issue is controversial. One can lose reputation in an instant. Still, there is merit in pursuing good behavior because there is less likelihood that bad behavior will be tolerated or overlooked. If anything, that is the goodwill bank a company builds -- the proper actions of employees.

I'm sure President Bush wishes he could do some things over, but there is no going back. It seems to me that his anger toward his critics is misdirected. The public doesn't appear to be listening. Frankly, I don't know what he can do. This terrible period should pass, and he might regain some momentum, but he will never again be at the popularity levels he once had. Once lost...


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