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Bush Has an Opportunity for a ‘Reagan’ Moment

Great political leaders have that certain something regular mortals don’t.

Like the amplifier in the cult-classic movie Spinal Tap that, "goes to 11,” times of crisis call for leaders to transcend politics and take their leadership ability to a higher level.  Now is such a time.  It’s been a tough August. 

Katrina’s devastation was the latest blow in a summer of storms.  While many Americans are thirsty right now, there is also a spiritual thirst you and I cannot afford to ignore.  Never mind oil reserves – great leaders summon an even more potent form of energy: "courage reserves" – that special magic they summon in times of crisis.  

President Bush is again being asked to rally our nation by stepping up to the plate in the bottom of the 9th with the bases loaded, two outs, down by a run.

He has come through for us before – when he reassured us after the September 11 terrorist attacks.  He called us to endure, to fight a noble war on terror, and to sacrifice.  Now it’s time to tell Americans we won’t just endure – we shall overcome.  Americans are thirsting for optimism … a belief that we will build “the last best hope for mankind.”

Ronald Reagan, more than any other President in American history, understood the thirst Americans have for optimism – a belief that tomorrow will be better than today.  He often spoke of a "Shining City on a Hill."  It was a metaphor for America taken from John Winthrop, who spoke the phrase off the Massachusetts coast in 1630. 

Today, when our nation’s morale has been tested by war and floods – at this time – when optimism seems to be sinking below sea level – I still believe in a City on a Hill that cannot be destroyed by fire or water.  Today, it stands as tall and strong as ever, even if we need to be reminded of that, from time to time.

Times like these call for the President to be the national "healer," but he must also be the national "motivator.”  I’m rooting for President Bush to hit one out of the park.

Written By

Mr. Lewis has managed political campaigns and served as director of grassroots for the Leadership Institute, as well as political director for GOPAC. In 2002, Campaigns & Elections magazine selected him as a "Rising Star of Politics." He is the author of "Teaching Elephants to Talk." His blog can be read at MattLewis.org.

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