George W. Bush is no Bill Clinton. That's how he campaigned in 2000, and that's how he behaved in the White House, and it's very true of his post-presidency. While Clinton is a very important leader in the Democratic Party, Bush is invisible. The same is true of Mitt Romney, the GOP's most recent presidential candidate. In both cases, two men who should be major voices in the Republican Party are absent by choice as the GOP stumbles toward 2014. Bush and Romney are not leaning in, and they say as much in new interviews out today. "I don't long for [fame]. Nor do I long for power," Bush tells the Huffington Post's Jon Ward. "I'm not going to be bothering the airwaves with a constant series of speeches," Romney tells The Wall Street Journal's Neil King Jr. We think leaning in pioneer Sheryl Sandberg would have some advice for these two.
GOP excuse: "I've come to realize that power can be corrosive if you've had it for too long," Bush says. "It can dim your vision. And so I came to the conclusion that, you know, I don't long for fame. And really, gonna shy away from it."
Sandberg says: "What would you do if you weren't afraid?"
GOP excuse: "Not shy away from it," Bush corrects. "Avoid it. I'm not very shy. Avoid it."
Sandberg says: "Social gains are never handed out. They must be seized."
GOP excuse: "Having lost the election, I don't look at myself as the person best equipped to prescribe where the party should go, going forward," Romney says.
Sandberg says: "[M]any people, but especially women [or failed presidential candidates!], feel fraudulent when they are praised for their accomplishments. Instead of feeling worthy of recognition, they feel undeserving and guilty, as if a mistake has been made."
GOP excuse: Bush says "there's a frustration at the Bush Institute" because he doesn't want to give speeches. "You need to get out and you need to be out there, you know, opining about this and telling people about that... And I don't want to do that."
Sandberg says: "I'm sorry if this sounds harsh or surprises anyone, but this is where we are. If you want the outcome to be different, you will have to do something about it."
GOP excuse: Romney says of failed presidential candidates, "by and large... [they] aren't very much in the public view." The Journal says he added, "But it doesn't have to be that way."
Sandberg says: "[Career] Ladders are limiting... Jungle gyms offer more creative exploration. There are many ways to get to the top of a jungle gym. The ability to forge a unique path with occasional dips, detours and even dead ends presents a better chance for fulfillment."