I know that our leaders are human beings -- flawed and imperfect. Barack Obama is trying to quit smoking. President Clinton had a thing for the ladies (which explains why one wing of his presidential library is filled with little black books). Ronald Reagan scheduled appointments based on his wife's astrologer's advice. Senator Biden had that little plagiarism incident a few years back. I could go on and on.
In fact, you'd be hard-pressed to name any leader of significance who didn't have a few skeletons in his closet of one kind or another. That's why it's so difficult to accept when one of our leaders becomes so full of himself that he forgets his feet are made of clay, just like yours and mine. You can call it arrogance or hubris, but it's been the downfall of many in power.
George W. Bush spent President's Day comparing himself to "the first George W." He drew parallels between George Washington's leadership in the American Revolution and his own struggles to lead America's war in Iraq. It was the kind of absurdly tone-deaf performance we've learned to expect from our current president, a clumsy attempt to link himself to one of America's true military heroes.
But Washington didn't have to convince his countrymen to fight for their freedom with trumped-up "evidence" of danger. Iraq is not America, and propping up a government there and refereeing a civil war has nothing to do with fighting for America's freedom. The American people understand that at last, but Bush is still trying to sell the soap. Simply put, he's not listening to the American people and they're no longer listening to him. He's the very definition of a lame duck.
And as I write this, we in Memphis are awaiting an announcement from Mayor Willie Herenton about his proposed football stadium deal for the Fairgrounds. Herenton has already announced to a local television station that he will "take no questions" on the proposal for a couple of weeks. In other words, he's not interested in listening to us. Sounds familiar, doesn't it? Anybody need some soap?
The Tennessee Department of Transportation announced last week that the I-55 "old bridge" across the Mississippi would be closed for nine months, beginning in 2017, so that the department could build new exit and entrance ramps. This is a really horrible idea, with potentially disastrous economic, public safety, and even national security ramifications ...