As the presidency of George W. Bush has drawn to a close, we have seen more writing and public acknowledgment for what he has achieved than usual.
With all the attention on negative press and poor approval ratings, it is easy to vilify the man who came into office on a domestic agenda and was immediately tossed into a global tempest. And it is not just Bill Frist who is acknowledging “W”. there seems to be a newly found empathy for him in the press and public debate. Oh there are those who will accuse him of all sorts of wrong doing as well as those who would not fault him no matter what. But if there are positive things to find in his presidency, such as his friend Dr. Frist claims, why does so much blame, negativity and even vitriol attach to him- especially on the world stage. Is it his governance? His style? Probably it is some combination- but also something else is more to the point. He has focused so heavily on Iraq and terrorism in his own speeches that it is easy to believe that nothing else was getting his attention.
ReadWriteWeb ran an interesting experiment today. They ran the inaugural speeches of George W Bush (in 2005) and Barak Obama (today) through a word cloud tool. You can see here that the words used most often are quite different. Here is a similar cloud for Bush’s 2007 State of the Union address. Similar analysis of all of the domestic speeches of the Bush presidency show that the words “terrorist” “9/11″ “America” “Freedom” “War” and “Iraq” predominate.
The war on terror was a major part of what happened to the United States during the Bush years- but not everything. When leader has the kind of platform that a sitting president has to communicate an agenda, inspire a vision, point out progress, ask for support and enroll the masses in continuing to shoulder a burden, then he or she will be remembered for how they use it. Much of the cause of Mr. Bush’s low approval ratings, and his close association with the war in Iraq, the fiscal meltdown and a host of ethical issues is that he focused so incessantly on the single themes which show up in his word cloud- patriotism and the war on terror. It is not that I would suggest that these were not important topics- just that Mr. Bush is accountable for the impact of his focus on them, often to his detriment and that of his administration.
So, what are you talking about this week? What are the themes that your organization would associate you with if asked in a poll? Are they the ones move your organization forward?
Hump Day Wisdom is published to arrive in your RSS/ mailbox on Wednesdays as an invitation to consider a mid week course correction and goes to thousands of requesters on 4 continents.