A Cautious Man
July 24, 2004
An Honest Man, He Wanted to Do What Was Right
My local paper, the Star-Ledger in New Jersey, published a thoughtful editorial about former New Jersey Governor Tom Kean, the chair of the 9/11 Commission. I think it nicely sums things up:
Leadership that genuinely aspires to place public interest above political gain is rare at any time -- all the more so during the presidential campaign season, which often seems like a protracted bad date with a narcissist. That is why it was reassuring to hear former Gov. Thomas Kean's praise yesterday for the bipartisanship of the 9/11 commission he chaired for 19 months and why a listener could feel a sense of trust in the best intentions of the commission report's analysis and recommendations.

Much of that is a credit to what by all accounts has been Kean's exemplary stewardship of a commission that could easily have splintered into bickering factions. Critics of Kean's appointment sneered that he was too genteel to ask hard questions, ruffle political feathers or hold his ground against obstructionism by the Bush administration. The unanimous commission report, drawn from thousands of interviews and painstaking research -- including documents that had to be wrested from government hands -- is a decisive rebuke to those who underestimated him.

Clearly Kean values civility, compromise and discussion in service of a country uncertain in the face of a new threat. Those are leadership values President Bush and candidate John Kerry should seek to emulate. It's no surprise to New Jerseyans that Kean has a genuine calling to public service. The surprise, and disappointment, is that so many others don't.



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