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Looking to Leadership
It took a lawyer to understand the complexity of what happened to New York City on September 11 th . And Rudolph Giuliani, a former federal prosecutor, and now former Mayor of the City of New York provided leadership for New York and the nation. Despite his own harrowing experience trying to find an escape from the scene of the attacks, Giuliani was a general in charge. From the site of a hastily comprised emergency command center over the next few weeks he took pains to make sure the evidence of the crime was carefully preserved for a future criminal trial. Under strictest instructions he told rescue workers and demolition experts to handle the materials with great care. He expedited the legal process so families of the victims could file the necessary paperwork to declare their loved ones deceased. He worked with the Bar of the State of New Jersey to overcome administrative obstacles between the two states.
On the national front, overcoming a chaotic day when he was shuttled from Florida to Louisiana to Nebraska to Washington D.C., President George W. Bush found his footing and struck the right tone by the time of his televised address to a Joint Session of Congress on September 20 th . In the intervening days intelligence was compiled so that the President could address the nation, and the world, to attempt an explanation of what happened, who was behind it, and what we were going to do about it. The eloquence of his address prompted some observers to refer to it simply as The Speech.
In the case of these two men, historians have noted that it is typical that the nation turns to its leaders and projects onto them the qualities they wish they possessed. The U.S. presidency is very much a symbolic role. Since President Bush has enjoyed high approval ratings, including an 85% approval rate among African-Americans, though they did not support him in the election, according to a December 2001 New York Times poll, one wonders what George W. Bush symbolizes that inspires Americans to support him.
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