Monday, January 05, 2004

A Temper And A Mean Streak - Two Georges

An interesting interview from the Atlantic Monthly (March 11, 2003).
So would you say that the younger Bush is better suited to the position than his father was?

Well, we'll know the answer to that when the war is over, and that could be a long time from now. But it's possible that he is. George W. Bush has a mean streak, which his father did not have. I think a leader has to have a mean streak. If he lets it dominate him, that's a bad thing. But it has to be there somewhere.

How does George W.'s mean streak manifest itself?

It may manifest itself in his follow-through, which in a sense represents a taming of the mean-streak. If you have a goal that requires a certain amount of aggression or a certain amount of confrontation, and if you can pursue that goal over a long period of time, you've obviously got more than a mean streak working for you. But you've got to have the mean streak as the emotional engine that keeps you going.

The classic example is George Washington, who had a terrible temper. All his life he had this temper, from when he was a teenager to when he was President. Much of the personal story of his life is how he reined that in and got control over it. He managed to get so much control over it that Americans today have forgotten that this was one of his qualities. But if he hadn't had it, I don't know whether he would have had the gumption or the staying power to fight an eight-and-a-half-year war against Great Britain or to do any of a number of the other things that he accomplished.