George Washington, Foundation of Presidential Leadership and Character

George Washington, Foundation of Presidential Leadership and Character

George Washington, Foundation of Presidential Leadership and Character

George Washington, Foundation of Presidential Leadership and Character

Synopsis

There have been many serious abuses of presidential power in recent decades, including Watergate, the Iran-Contra scandal, and the Lewinsky affair, subsequently Americans have demonstrated renewed interest in discussing the relationship between character and political leadership. Through an investigation of the life and career of George Washington, often considered the exemplary moral president, the chapters offer a balanced scholarly contribution to this analysis.

Excerpt

Late in 1999 a majority of 556 randomly selected seniors attending some of the most elite colleges and universities in the United States were unable to identify George Washington as the commanding general of the American Continental Army who defeated the British at Yorktown. Moreover, attendance figures indicate that almost as many people visited Elvis Presley's Graceland in 1999 as Washington's home at Mount Vernon. Apparently, some of the luster has been lost from the bright and shining image of the president who Americans once considered to be the father of their country.

How did this happen? What are the primary causes of Washington's apparent loss of esteem? One explanation is that Washington has routinely been placed on such a high pedestal that contemporary Americans find it extremely difficult to identify with him. Perhaps his image as a superhuman hero no longer resonates because it makes modern leaders appear so inferior by comparison. Another possible explanation is that there have been so many serious abuses of presidential power in the modern era, most notably Watergate, the Iran-Contra scandal and the Lewinsky affair, that President Washington may appear to contemporary Americans as simply too good to be true. Given the intense public exposure of the flaws of our modern leaders, it may indeed no longer seem conceivable that such a president ever really existed.

The purpose of this volume is to return Washington to the mainstream of American consciousness by demystifying him and by thawing out the . . .

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