The 'don't blame me' president
THE IDEA that an administration would conveniently direct the finger of blame at one of its agencies with respect to matters so important as war and peace is manifestly immoral.
When Harry Truman was faced with miscalculations regarding the Korean conflict, his attitude was: "The buck stops here." And when John Kennedy was faced with the Bay of Pigs fiasco, he took full and unqualified blame. These men lived with the aftermath of their mistakes and blamed them on no one else.
George Bush must assume responsibility for the intelligence failures and all other mistakes made on his watch. And he must do so without qualification. That is what honorable men do. If they cannot or will not, they are not worthy of the offices they hold.
The Roman meaning of the word "office" (officium in Latin) meant not only an appointed or elected position. It also meant "honor." To the Romans of the republican period, "office" and "honor" were synonymous.
This makes the argument over whether George Bush went AWOL or not as irrelevant as it is amusing. Like Bill Clinton, Bush is clearly AWOL from the things that matter most: integrity, honor, and responsibility.
© Copyright 2004 Globe Newspaper Company.