United We Can Win GOP Web Site
The American Dream
Quote for the Day
Politica Talk Blog by Dr Terry Paulson
Op-Ed Archive
Site Index
Your Host
Contact Us
United We Can Win

United We Can Win

Op-Ed Archive

"Getting Out of the Rearview Mirror"
Ventura Star, April 18, 2004

By Terry Paulson, PhD

For a few brief moments I tried to convince myself that the 9/11 Commission just might make a difference. Maybe the importance of their mission just might help them avoid the blame game and actually make suggestions worth following. It did not take long to realize that an election year does crazy things to people in Washington. At a time when our country's leaders need to focus their attention on navigating their way through a difficult and critical minefield in Iraq, Washington is doing all it can to mire the President and his team in the rearview mirror.

There is much to be learned from past mistakes, but unless those lessons have implications for future changes, wasting our leaders' time wallowing in the past can be dangerous for a country at war with terrorism. Most Americans are not into the "blame game" being played. They trust that Bill Clinton, George Bush or any of those working with them would have "moved heaven and earth" to prevent 9/11 if they had been able to. It was not the people we had in office. The inadequacies in security coordination were a factor, but it was the abhorrent nature of the act committed by the terrorists that is primarily to blame. Until it happened, no one could have envisioned such an evil act on such a grand scale.

There is nothing like a shared crisis to sell the need for change. To the President's credit, he made changes in homeland security, moved the country to a war footing, and has taken the war directly to the enemy on their turf. Unfortunately, there is also nothing like a crisis and an election to invite Monday-morning quarterbacking on what "should have been done" from any pundit, politician or commission member who can find a willing camera and a microphone.

It's all too easy for teams to get bogged down in analysis paralysis instead of pushing for progress, but life's challenges don't stop for our petty ruminations and fault-finding. Instead of getting lost in the rearview mirror, the best leaders get busy shaping the future out the front window. In this road race to defeat terrorism and establish a beachhead for freedom in Iraq, there is no slow lane. There is no off switch. There's no reverse. There are no easy off-ramps, and all flat tires have to be fixed while moving. That's why your rearview mirror is smaller than your front window! Can you imagine driving a vehicle with a huge rearview mirror and a little eight-inch slit to drive through. That is no way to drive a car, and it is no way to lead a country facing a difficult war and a critical economic recovery. If our leaders get stuck in the rearview mirror, we just may hit another tree out the front window.

Thankfully, in his recent press conference, President Bush put the 9/11 Commission in perspective: "I look forward to their suggestions." Good leaders are always ready to learn anything from the past that will help chart the course for the future. President Bush seemed to be ready to put his focus where it belongs-out the front window: "As long as I am President, I will press for freedom. ... We have an obligation to work for freedom. My job is to lead this country in promoting freedom. My message to Iraq, the troops and the world is that we will stay the course. We will succeed."

It was reported that Bush was tired of swatting at flies in the fight against Middle East terrorism; I hope he soon grows tired of swatting at flies around Washington. Getting the approval of Democrats in an election year is like getting a teenager to thank you for setting limits and applying discipline; it just isn't going to happen. The only poll that really counts is the one conducted in the voting booth when Americans make their choice this November. The President's strong, positive vision and resolve are his biggest strengths; doing all that he can to deliver on that vision is what will determine the outcome of this election. Americans want purposeful action and results, not politics as usual. If the Democrats continue to play the blame game out the rearview mirror, and Bush stays focused on delivering results out the front window, the election victory is his. If not, he will have all the time he wants to focus on lost opportunities.

Terry Paulson, PhD, is a professional speaker on Making Change Work and author of The Dinner: The Political Conversation Your Mother Told You Never to Have.

—Terry Paulson, PhD

Return to top.


United We Can Win!
Email: info@unitedwecanwin.com

© 2003 Dr. Terry Paulson. All Rights Reserved.