Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Not Listening? 

President Bush has placed himself in a precarious position with his commitment to the war in Iraq. He steadfastly supports pacification of the country in spite of a growing chorus of critics at home, especially critics in his own party. This raises questions for communicators and politicians. When does one listen and when does one march forward and ignore criticism? There are examples of leadership in both instances in which leaders have emerged brilliantly and failed spectacularly. There was no way to know in advance which outcome would prevail. It is leadership in a time of great risk.

One great danger that Bush faces is that he listens only to himself because of his conviction about what he is doing. Some leaders have been successful by isolating themselves but as many --and perhaps, more -- have failed. Bush has at least this much going for him. He doesn't have to worry about public support. He has lost most of the support he once had. He is acting now with the power of the Presidency and largely on his own.

It will take years to learn whether the course Bush is taking is the right one or flawed. Bush, however, doesn't have years, nor does his party. If I were a Republican communicator, I would be deeply worried.


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