It’s easy to second-guess from sidelines

By Richard Greene | Published Wednesday, August 26, 2015

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The American proverb “Don’t judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes,” is a great thought but one rarely put in to practice.

Richard Greene

Richard Greene

Rather than consider forcing our feet into uncomfortable shoes, we often take a comfortable seat on the sidelines and take potshots. When we finally get up to take a few steps, it’s with the sure footing of hindsight.

I’ll admit I’ve second-guessed every Dallas Cowboys coach and Texas Rangers manager for more than 30 years.

What triggered consideration of my own failures and the need to regard the thoughts and circumstances of others was a visit to the George W. Bush Presidential Library at SMU in Dallas.

With few offerings at the theater last weekend, my wife and I trekked across the Metroplex to see the library.

I had met Bush many years ago in Gainesville, collecting audio for a local radio station. It was not long before the then-Texas governor decided to run for president. With the Rangers in the throes of the pennant race in 1999, he took a few minutes to talk baseball with me and another reporter in the Cooke County Courthouse before heading off to a rally.

Once he was elected president, I found myself, like many, wondering about decisions made and legislation passed during eight turbulent years. His tenure was shaped almost immediately by the events of Sept. 11 less than a year after he took office. That was then followed by a pair of wars, Hurricane Katrina and finally the fallout on Wall Street after the subprime market failure.

(It’s shocking to see how much Bush aged in those eight years, but who wouldn’t?)

Reaction to all those events have been second-guessed, which goes with being elected. Everyone that holds that office know, that’s part of the job.

But as Bush put it in one of the library’s many video presentations, “you don’t know what it’s like to make a national security decision until you are faced with one, and everyone is looking to you for answers.”

I truly can’t imagine. I struggle with people asking me where to go for lunch.

Then to bring home that point even more, the library gives visitors a chance to take a handful of issues from Iraq, Hurricane Katrina and the Wall Street bailouts. You are given five minutes to get opinions from lawmakers, academics, diplomats and advisers from both sides of the issue. You are then asked to make a decision. It’s not easy, even with hindsight.

Fortunately for America, the glass slipper that leads to the White House will never fit me.

While we may not always agree with the decisions made in the office, we should have admiration for the steps taken by the men that walked around the White House.

Richard Greene is the Messenger’s sports editor.

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