Monday, February 18, 2008

Can We Learn From Our Leader's Mistakes?

On this President's Day we tend to look at the greatest of our Presidents (my overall favorite is Ronald Reagan - known as the "Great Communicator") and look at the reasons we believe that made them great. However, I believe we can also learn about leadership from the failures or mistakes of some our most renowned Presidents.

The University of Louisville McConnell Center, "dedicated to providing a non-partisan, well rounded education that encourages top undergraduates to become valued citizens and future leaders of the commonwealth and the nation", has come out with a top ten of Presidential blunders:

1. James Buchanan (1857-1861): Failing to avert the Civil War

2. Andrew Johnson (1865-1869): Opposing improvements for Southern blacks after the Civil War beyond abolishing slavery

3. Lyndon Johnson (1963-1969): Allowing the Vietnam War to intensify

4. Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921): Refusing to compromise on the Treaty of Versailles after WWI

5. Richard Nixon (1969-1974): His involvement in the Watergate cover-up

6. James Madison (1809-1817): Failing to keep the US out of the War of 1812 with Britain.

7. Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809): Supporting the Embargo Act, a self-imposed prohibition on trade with Europe.

8. John Kennedy (1961-1963): Allowing the Bay of Pigs invasion that led to the Cuban missile crisis.

9. Ronald Reagan (1981-1989): Supporting Iran-Contra deal to sell arms to Iran to fund anti-Communists in Nicaragua.

10. Bill Clinton (1993-2001): Consorting with Monica Lewinsky

Obviously a subjective list, it is a telling thermometer of what occupies the minds of most in this country when it comes to more recent leaders. Most of the "blunders" on this list dealt with mistakes that lead to war or political moves within countries while others are of a more personal nature.

No matter what you think of those mentioned, the point of this study by the McConnell Center, I believe, is that we need to not only focus on what was done right but look at the failures of our leaders so that we do not fall in those traps again.

On this President's Day, in between sales, remember to honor our leader and pray for him as the office of the President is not an easy position to be in.

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