While interviewing President Bush for his just-published book Plan of Attack, Bob Woodward mentioned what British Prime Minister Tony Blair had said about receiving angry letters from families who had lost loved ones in Iraq: “Don’t believe anyone who tells you when they receive letters like that they don’t suffer any doubt.” Upon hearing this, Woodward reports, the president stiffened and, with hardly a moment’s hesitation, said: “I haven’t suffered any doubt.” Woodward asked: “Not at all?” Bush said: “No. And I’m able to convey that to the people,” even to those who lost sons or daughters in Iraq.
“Resolute” is the way Woodward has characterized Bush. It is an admirable quality in leaders: standing firm on principles, not letting the polls dictate policy. Yet it takes an equal or greater amount of courage for leaders to admit mistakes or to change course when needed.