Monday, September 15, 2008

Why President Bush was Late....

President Bush is known for his obsessive love of punctuality and routine. From Dead Certain, by Robert Draper, Pg 106:
The president often described this fidelity to schedule as a courtesy bestowed on others. "Whether it's John McCain or an average citizen, they shouldn't be kept waiting," he would say.

Bush moved through his schedule with type A vengeance. He was restless and he hungered to compete. For a man thought to be leisurely, he seemed forever to be racing the clock. He did not eat a meal so much as disappear it. Eighteen holes of golf- why not make it a contest of speed as well as skill? George W. Bush always did. It seemed a point of pride to him that he could arrive at a finish line- any finish line- faster than the next guy. And if there was no other guy, only him...well, get it over with regardless.
One time, Colin Powell was running late to a Cabinet meeting. "Lock the door", President Bush said. When a few minutes passed until finally there was a scuffling of the doorknob causing the Cabinet Room to erupt in laughter, President Bush signaled to allow the Secretary of State into the room. The President made his point.

It is framed against the backdrop of this story and understanding of how important punctuality and "staying the schedule" is to this President, that I bring you the following story on why President Bush allowed himself to depart 15 minutes behind schedule on his way to the Beijing Olympics...

The Value of Service

Commentary by Lt. Col. Mark Murphy
354th Maintenance Group deputy commander

8/15/2008 - EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- I learned a big lesson on service Aug. 4, 2008, when Eielson had the rare honor of hosting President Bush on a refueling stop as he traveled to Asia.

It was an event Eielson will never forget -- a hangar full of Airmen and Soldiers getting to see the Commander in Chief up close, and perhaps even shaking his hand. An incredible amount of effort goes into presidential travel because of all of the logistics, security, protocol, etc ... so it was remarkable to see Air Force One land at Eielson on time at precisely 4:30 p.m.--however, when he left less than two hours later, the President was 15 minutes behind schedule.

That's a big slip for something so tightly choreographed, but very few people know why it happened. Here's why.

On Dec. 10, 2006, our son, Shawn, was a paratrooper deployed on the outskirts of Baghdad. He was supposed to spend the night in camp, but when a fellow soldier became ill Shawn volunteered to take his place on a nighttime patrol--in the convoy's most exposed position as turret gunner in the lead Humvee. He was killed instantly with two other soldiers when an IED ripped through their vehicle.

I was thinking about that as my family and I sat in the audience listening to the President's speech, looking at the turret on the up-armored Humvee the explosive ordnance disposal flight had put at the edge of the stage as a static display.

When the speech was over and the President was working the crowd line, I felt a tap on my shoulder and turned to see a White House staff member. She asked me and my wife to come with her, because the President wanted to meet us.

Stunned, we grabbed our two sons that were with us and followed her back into a conference room. It was a shock to go from a crowded, noisy hangar, past all of those security people, to find ourselves suddenly alone in a quiet room.

The only thing we could hear was a cell phone vibrating, and noticed that it was coming from the jacket Senator Stevens left on a chair. We didn't answer.

A short time later, the Secret Service opened the door and President Bush walked in. I thought we might get to shake his hand as he went through. But instead, he walked up to my wife with his arms wide, pulled her in for a hug and a kiss, and said, "I wish I could heal the hole in your heart." He then grabbed me for a hug, as well as each of our sons. Then he turned and said, "Everybody out."

A few seconds later, the four of us were completely alone behind closed doors with the President of the United States and not a Secret Service agent in sight.

He said, "Come on, let's sit down and talk." He pulled up a chair at the side of the room, and we sat down next to him. He looked a little tired from his trip, and he noticed that his shoes were scuffed up from leaning over concrete barriers to shake hands and pose for photos. He slumped down the chair, completely relaxed, smiled, and suddenly was no longer the President - he was just a guy with a job, sitting around talking with us like a family member at a barbeque.

For the next 15 or 20 minutes, he talked with us about our son, Iraq, his family, faith, convictions, and shared his feelings about nearing the end of his presidency. He asked each of our teenaged sons what they wanted to do in life and counseled them to set goals, stick to their convictions, and not worry about being the "cool" guy.

He said that he'd taken a lot of heat during his tenure and was under a lot of pressure to do what's politically expedient, but was proud to say that he never sold his soul. Sometimes he laughed, and at others he teared up. He said that what he'll miss most after leaving office will be his role as Commander in Chief.

One of the somber moments was when he thanked us for the opportunity to meet, because he feels a heavy responsibility knowing that our son died because of a decision he made. He was incredibly humble, full of warmth, and completely without pretense. We were seeing the man his family sees.

We couldn't believe how long he was talking to us, but he seemed to be in no hurry whatsoever. In the end, he thanked us again for the visit and for the opportunity to get off his feet for a few minutes. He then said, "Let's get some pictures." The doors flew open, Secret Service and the White House photographer came in, and suddenly he was the President again. We posed for individual pictures as he gave each of us one of his coins, and then he posed for family pictures. A few more thank yous, a few more hugs, and he was gone.

The remarkable thing about the whole event was that he didn't have to see us at all. If he wanted to do more, he could've just given a quick handshake and said, "Thanks for your sacrifice." But he didn't - he put everything and everyone in his life on hold to meet privately with the family of a Private First Class who gave his life in the service of his country.

What an incredible lesson on service. If the President of the United States is willing to drop everything on his plate to visit with a family, surely the rest of us can do it. No one is above serving another person, and no one is so lofty that he or she can't treat others with dignity and respect.

We often think of service in terms of sacrificing ourselves for someone in a position above us, but how often do we remember that serving someone below us can be much more important? If you're in a leadership capacity, take a good look at how you're treating your people, and remember that your role involves serving the people you rely on every day.
The world and much of my country may be Bush-weary of this president....but, God....I'm going to miss him.

Hat tip for the story link: Rocketsbrain

Previous related post: The Compassionate Conservative President

Cross-posted at Flopping Aces

Also blogging:
Brutally Honest

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Blogger shoprat said...

That is why history is going to be kind to Bush regardless of what others think today.

Monday, September 15, 2008 12:47:00 PM  
Blogger The Griper said...

and there is where compassion is felt and shown. Compassion belongs in a private arena not the political arena. and that is something libs cannot understand.

Monday, September 15, 2008 1:53:00 PM  
Blogger Z said...


what a guy. That Dad, too. His son? No words.

Thanks, Pres. Bush, for honoring an American soldier like this...

Monday, September 15, 2008 4:09:00 PM  
Blogger Chuck said...

Wordsmith, thanks for the story. I will miss him to. I may have had issues with a couple of his decisions but in my mind he has always been a good man and cares deeply for the country.

I posted on another blog (MK's views) earlier today that history will look at the presidencys of Bush and Clinton differently than the far left media does today.

We have had very few presidents who do the things he does with families and I salute him for it.

Monday, September 15, 2008 4:55:00 PM  
Blogger Grizzly Mama said...

Okay. Get me crying right before bed. All stuffed up. *sniff*

Great story - I had never heard it. I am so glad that the president spoke with this family, who sacrificed their most precious son for us, for this fight against islamic terrorists.

I will miss him, too. As much as I disagree with him on certain issues, I do know that he loves America and stuck to his guns under an enormous amount of pressure. God bless him.

Monday, September 15, 2008 7:49:00 PM  
Blogger Mike's America said...

I'll miss him too. It's a shame he didn't have a more aggressive strategy to combat the lies and smears the left has succeeded in promulgating about him.

I do think that history will judge him kindly and then some.

In the final year of the Reagan Administration none of us would have forseen the world changing in the way it did because of President Reagan's vision.

The same will be true for President Bush.

Monday, September 15, 2008 10:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think that he will ever be judged to be a great or even a good president, because he is hated so much by the left that it's just unfair.
No one ever went after the terrorists like he did..
But I'm sorry to say thet this country will never appreciate his resolve.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008 5:05:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For the last eight years, as far as some on the left have been concerned, George W. Bush has been Hitler. Now Sarah Palin is bin Laden. Welcome to the new populist “progressivism,” brought to you by Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore, Keith Olbermann, and Juan Cole. Don’t like someone on the right? Just draw analogies between that person and some mass murdering tyrant.

BTW, I am appalled and disgusted by the claim of Obama supporters that Jesus was a community organizer. Who the heck are they to compare Obama to Jesus? Will his nonseance ever end?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008 5:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that history will show that we underestimated George Bush. George Bush will be remembered for his responses to the 9/11 bombings. And rightfuly so.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008 6:26:00 AM  
Blogger Gayle said...

I'm going to miss him too, Shoprat.

This is a very touching story. I couldn't get through it without tearing up. God bless him, and I hope history is much kinder to them than many people have been!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008 8:51:00 AM  

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