Is Leadership in the Details?

There's a telling anecdote in David Frum's new memoir of his year as a White House speechwriter for George W. Bush. Early in the presidency, Frum--who later received credit for the deathless, and perhaps senseless, phrase "axis of evil"--submits a speech. The President eviscerates it. Frum asks why. "The material he had hacked out," Frum writes, "seemed to me the headline story of the event. Bush shook his head at me. The Headline is: BUSH LEADS."

This is meant to seem admirable. And it is, in a way, I suppose. Before Bush, leadership had fallen out of favor as a political...

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