The Cost of Loyalty: Your Job, or the Nation?
Since the beginning of the Bush administration, we have bore witness to an attitude of "You are either with us, or against us." In order to maintain this mantra, President Bush has surrounded himself with a loyal group of "Yes Men." So how is this affecting us? Does this serve our best interest, or just Bush's agenda? In order to understand more about this issue, Phil Dunwoody, assistant professor of psychology for his insight on this policy.
Would you say that President Bush has an affinity for "Yes Men?"
Well he certainly surrounds himself with others that are ideologically similar, but this is not the same as "Yes Men." When comparing him to other leaders, Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong Il have killed those with opposing viewpoints. We have seen nothing to that extremity with the Bush administration; if someone had a dissenting viewpoint, they would lose their job, but not their life.
How has this policy affected the nation?
I think it has had bad policy implications. Many times there have been policies implemented that, given more critical dialogue, might not have been made. When you stifle critical discussion on an issue, your understanding of the issue is limited. Parallel to public opinion, the Bush administration has painted critical dialogue about public policy as "disloyal" and "unpatriotic."
Is this close-mindedness going against his responsibilities to serve the people?
I think that Presidents have an obligation to listen to the diversity of opinion, yet they also have an obligation to do what they feel is their responsibility even if it may be unpopular. However, I feel that painting critical discussion as disloyal and unpatriotic is not in the best interest of this country. We have freedom of speech and freedom of the press because critical dialog about political issues is needed.
Does this policy have a large Totalitarian undertone?
In Totalitarianism, the power rests solely at the top. We don't have that in this country, but I do feel that the balance of power has tipped too far to the executive branch. After 9/11, there was a large "Rally around the flag" effect, and we gave a lot of power to the executive branch. The question now is did we give too much. There are not enough checks and balances; executive privilege and power are now invoked so frequently and so broadly that it makes congressional oversight very difficult.
Can anyone truly be a good leader without an accurate sense of the world?
Your effectiveness as a leader is going to be limited by the accuracy of your beliefs. There was a Newsweek article that had a picture of President Bush in a bubble - it talked about him being isolated as a leader, and not having a very clear idea of what's going on in Iraq. When it comes down to it, he's either putting a real good "spin" on things, or he's delusional. He could just be a good politician in framing things in a way that are beneficial to him.
- Christopher Bender '10, student reporter