"He is evidently a man who takes color from his surroundings."
So said Theodore Roosevelt of William Howard Taft in 1910. You can read it in Colonel Roosevelt by Edmund Morris.
Taft had become the object of Roosevelt's ire. As his successor to the White House in 1908, Roosevelt envisioned Taft continuing to move his own dear policies and reforms forward. Taft did not meet Roosevelt's expectations. And, as anyone who crossed the iconic Roosevelt in politics knew, Teddy's shun was stronger than his embrace. Gregarious and a lover of thoughts and ideals, Roosevelt was also a bulldog political fighter. His opponents were to pay. Even with their political lives. Roosevelt was "The Man in the Ring."
Dear Taft, not of poor character or intelligence, capable and accomplished of his own right, suffered from a fatal flaw during his presidency: He was not Theodore Roosevelt. Not so bold. Not so charismatic. Not so cocksure. Pity any man in any arena to follow a star so bright as Teddy. Such was Taft's blessing and curse.
And, as Roosevelt saw it, Taft no longer closely influenced by him was now adrift and aimless while occupying the most powerful seat in the world. Squandering the presidency of the United States of America.
"He is evidently a man who takes color from his surroundings," may be true of any of us.
President or pauper. Boss or worker. Man or woman. Experienced or novice. Old or young.
How firmly will we hold our convictions?
How courageously will keep our commitments?
How quickly will we change our colors?