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What About This…? 12.17.2015

By Wayne William Cipriano

You have heard that the 41st President of the United States of America, George Bush the Elder has published an autobiography recently.  When and if it finds its way into the Douglas County Library, I plan on getting on the list to borrow it.

I am sure it covers a wide range of activities and times.  41 is having a long and interesting life and when you consider all of it you cannot help being impressed.  I am told some of the book speaks to the administration of the 43rd President of the United States of America, George Bush the Younger.  Since this is 41’s son, and no doubt destined to become known as the worst American president of all time, it is not much of a surprise that 41 would be inclined to defend his son.

Since I have not read the book I can only speak to what those whose information I respect have said about it.  I understand there was a lot of disdain heaped on Vice-President Richard Cheney for not doing more to help 43 do a better job.  Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld also came in for some flack for the same reason.  Others may also be blamed.  But only one person was at fault.

There is a concept in most hierarchies known as “Captain of the Ship Theory.”  Essentially it means there is one person in command.  That person enjoys all the authority available and bears all the responsibility.  That person is not necessarily omnipotent, for he or she must rely on others to carry out decisions, but that one person directs the action and is responsible for the outcome.  Even with our Federal system of checks and balances, our president remains unquestionable the most powerful and the most responsible person in our country and arguably in our world.

I am big on family and I can easily understand the Bush’s sympathy for 43 and their desire to expiate his monumental failures by casting about for others to share those failures.  But, 43 was, for eight years, the Captain of our Ship. Everything he did that went well is to his account.  Everything he did that went badly is to his account.

One might ask where was his sympathetic family, particularly the one member of the family who had so recently occupied that singularly powerful office, when 43, perhaps seduced by bad advice from malicious actors, was making so many atrocious decisions so quickly. Can his family state now “how poorly he was counseled” but say then “we felt it best that we stay out of it?”  I don’t think so.

Where can the Captain of the Ship go for advice that is invariably correct?  Nowhere!  The very nature of the position requires that the Captain, the Commander, the Leader, the President strikes out alone, buttressed perhaps by the best counsel available but knowing it is all the Captain’s authority, and all the Captain’s responsibility.

If you or I or any one wants to be relieved of that responsibility by sharing that authority, let us form a committee, a board, a group that makes timid, watered-down, middle-of-the-road decisions where every conceivable benefit and reversal is considered and protected such that responsibility for them is parceled out among the members.

If you or I or anyone wants to be President of the United States of America, we must understand we will be the Captain of the Ship.