A Leader of Men
The temperature was ninety degrees in the shade as we waited for a shuttle to the George W. Bush rally on Hillsboro Road in Nashville. A close friend encouraged us to attend and make a donation to the Republican Party in 2004.
My wife and I wanted to see the President close up. I was equally curious to see my fellow citizens who were either rich enough or dumb enough to contribute that much money for a ten second encounter or photo opportunity with George W. Bush.
While rubbing elbows with the big spenders, I remembered the time sixty-five years earlier when one of my buddies bummed pennies from a stranger because the State Theatre in North Nashville had increased the price of a Saturday matinée by forty percent. The cost to see a Western movie went from five cents to seven cents in one week. Now, I’m paying $2000, and I don’t even get to see Gene Autry or Roy Rogers.
At the appointed time, the President arrived. He spoke for about thirty minutes to this responsive and enthusiastic crowd of about two hundred. There were bursts of spontaneous applause.
Afterward, he rewarded his supporters beyond their expectations with handshakes, conversation, and photo opportunities. In this brief hour it became obvious to everyone present that George W. Bush was far more presidential than the media depicted him.
I have listened to Presidents from Franklin Roosevelt to Bill Clinton, but as I observed George W. Bush I saw something I had not seen in a politician in the past sixty years.
The police who guarded the perimeter were ready to put themselves in “harm’s way” on behalf of their fellow officers. The Secret Service was ready to become a human shield to protect the President.
To my surprise I came away convinced that this extraordinary President had reached a point of leadership and maturity that he himself would have put himself in harm’s way on behalf of the least “important” person in the crowd.
I went to hear a speech and left having a seen A LEADER OF MEN.