I'm not a big believer in polls. Having conducting polling myself as part of my, ahem, education at Ole Miss, I know how easy it is to transparently manipulate the results of a poll by sampling and questioning means. As a military professional, my leadership training and experience taught me that the initial popularity, or unpopularity, of a course of action was no indicator of the efficacy of that course of action. Leadership decisions based on popularity are almost always wrong. However, I think our President's present low job approval poll numbers indicate a problem that he needs to address.
If you listen to, and accept, the pundits' spin on the President's job approval numbers you come away with the impression that a majority of the American people are united on the same side of the issues that are at the core of the American peoples' disapproval. Tain't necessarily so. I believe that the President, with no help from his party, has climbed onto the centrist fence that crosses the political battlefield and is taking destructive fire from both sides. Most people I associate with are not happy with W because he is not perceived as leading the attack. They aren't liberals and they aren't John Birchers; they are just common-sense folks who don't think the president is leading.
While the two are not mutually exclusive, leadership and taking a self-confident, principled stand are not the same thing. President Bush has proven leadership skill; it wasn't just the family name (although that didn't hurt) that got him to this point. He also has supreme confidence in his own judgement, and for the most part that is justified. What I think he is failing to do at this point is to provide the vocal rallying of the troops around his cause. Look at the great battlefield leaders of history on the eve of their greatest victories. In nearly every case you will see them addressing their troops, reminding them of the reason for the fight, asking them for their self-sacrifice in the cause of the greater good, and reassuring them that they are up to the test. And, in nearly every great battlefield victory you will find the leader in the right position at the point of decision, leading by example.
Yes, sir, Mr. President, you are the "decider." You are also the "leader." Lead us.