Worth Repeating . . .

Posted: March 10, 1990

LEADERSHIP BY POLLSTERS

The President's pollster is frequently trotted before the captive White House media. He criticizes Democrats for decrying the President's lack of leadership. He cites poll data as proof that the President is doing what the American people want.

Yes, the President is doing what America says it wants in his latest poll. But is he giving the American people the information they need to make an informed decision when his pollster calls?

Of course every politician has to listen to the voice of the people - there's nothing wrong with that. But the reason the American people seem reluctant to embrace the changes in Eastern Europe; the reason they oppose increased investment in democracy in that region; the reason they aren't sure if the Cold War is over is because their President is not leading them. He is not explaining and interpreting these startling events for them. He is not

helping them understand the new world we live in - its challenges, its opportunities, its dangers.

The President's lack of vision, and America's lack of leadership, has consequences that are both real and grave. The President of the United States retreats from the world by failing to lead the American people to see our self-interest in the success of democracy and free markets in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. But his timid posture may well create a self-fulfilling prophecy that at best confirms the status quo and at worst condemns the fragile new democracies to failure.

In short, the Bush foreign policy is a policy adrift without vision, without imagination, without a guiding light save precious public opinion polls. But if he wanted to, President Bush could seize the day and marshal the American people into a mighty army marching for change.

History teaches that it can be done.

- U.S. House Majority Leader Richard A. Gephardt, speech to the Center for National Policy, March 6

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