George W. Bush and Barack Obama

It’s striking how unlike George W. Bush Obama is. It’s not only that he can think strategically, speak profoundly, and do an astounding number of things at once. It’s the way he seems to make decisions.

Remember the Iraq “surge” decision? Bush was supposedly weighing all kinds of options, like the Iraq Study Group Report, and then Petraeus came back and suddenly the process was all over. The Decider leapt into action. He certainly didn’t dither, which of course you’d never want to do when tens of thousands of military and civilian lives are at stake.

And here are some other things he didn’t do. He didn’t go to Dover Air Force base in the middle of the night to salute people killed in one of his wars (he actually never even went to Dover). Although he attended ceremonial events at Arlington National Cemetery, he never walked among the graves in Section 60, where many soldiers killed in both his wars are buried.

Obama doesn’t need to appear to be strong, or to pretend he makes decisions. He’s not worried about how he looks, especially when tens of thousands of military and civilian lives are at stake. He is taking the time to inform his decision, both intellectually and emotionally.

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