Kai Wright in The Root:
It’s difficult to remember just how ho-hum the political stakes felt in the 1990s, a time when our country’s prosperity and stability made leadership seem secondary to things like ideology, faith and personality. People who came of age in that era could still debate deep, academic questions like whether history is shaped by the person or the moment, whether great times or great leaders define us. Back then, there was nothing to force the scary question of what happens when leaders crumble amid great crises. On the seventh anniversary of Sept. 11, we don’t have to speculate. The 9/11 anniversary will inevitably prompt many to take stock of George W. Bush’s soon-ending tenure. For many, his presidency will be cast in the moment those planes crashed into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon and by the high-stakes political battles that followed that frightening morning. But the most crucial lessons of both 9/11 and the Bush presidency lie in neither national security nor partisan politics.
The most urgent truth for us to understand is that the Bush era has been defined by our president’s steadfast refusal to be in command and by our nation’s collective unwillingness to value real leadership. As we finally end our white-knuckle ride with Bush, we must realize that our future turns on our ability to differentiate between someone seeking to take power and someone committed to lead.