This week our political representatives in Washington are negotiating the Federal budget, and as we plan to borrow $1.3 trillion dollars over the coming 12 months, they are fighting over whether we will reduce spending by $6 billion (Democrats) or $61 billion (Republicans). As this dangerous game of chicken plays out, the most important player in the game sits completely on the sidelines, silent. That player is President Obama.
We all wondered, but held some inexplicable but now-proven irrational hope, whether this excellent campaigner and speaker could lead our country. With stars in our eyes, we overlooked the fact that he had never led anything of any significance in his lifetime, and that his credentials were almost nil. A visiting college professor, a community organizer, a 2 year state senator, a man with no social or family roots, no college roommates, no “old buddies” which we could use to get a bearing on this man, no executive experience. And yet there he sits in the White House, our President, failing to lead. In retrospect this should have been obvious.
The first warning sign on leadership (other than his lack of experience) was the constant post election references to what he “inherited” from the previous administration. No leader does that. Previous Presidents haven’t done it, new college football coaches don’t say “my predecessor left me with a lousy roster”, leaders of troubled business organizations don’t make reference to the previous CEO. They simply assume the public knows what the starting point is, and they role up their sleeves and they get to work. But for our President, he wanted to make sure he mentioned, likely hundreds of times, what he inherited. Leaders do not do this.
On healthcare and the stimulus, he outsourced to Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, and as he relinquished his leadership position and the process and elements in the bills got further and further away from him and whatever principles he had in mind, it became obvious that no matter what was in these two bills he was going to sign them. And so, without a leader, Pelosi and Reid did what unrestrained politicians do. They run amuck, they get extreme, they get too complex and they cater to their friends and donors. And they spend like drunken sailors.
Even now he continues to fail to lead on the 2011 budget, perhaps the most threatening situation of all to our way of life. In the 4th quarter of 2010, even controlling both Houses of Congress, and a near super-majority in the Senate, this Democratic President could not pass a budget because he could not lead. Instead he opted to run the 4-corners during September and October, waiting for an election in November in which he and his party were slaughtered nonetheless. In trying to protect himself and his party dominance, the Democrats were slaughtered. One wonders what the results would have been had he, rather than playing it safe, led his party to do the right things and meet their obligation to develop and pass a responsible budget in the month of October of 2010. Instead the budget is unresolved to this day, festering, as deficits climb by more than $5 billion each day. The President’s budget, submitted on February 1 and full of obvious lies and financial trickery, generating trillions in additional debt over the next decade, was DOA and he knew it before he even released it. He called it a “budget of hard choices”, when in fact he hadn’t made a single hard choice in it. On the budget, he is a football coach going into the locker room before the big game and saying to his players “OK Men, does anyone have a game plan for today?”
There are so many other failures to lead. One of the the most recent being his heading on vacation after our friends in Japan were struck by a horrifying disaster, and dedicating his radio address to women’s rights while thousands of Japanese lay dying in rubble. This was an event which would have had Ronald Reagan and most other Presidents calling a special speech to the nation and world, rallying and comforting all at once. But nothing from this President.
The other recent event was Libya, launching an air campaign 4 weeks late after allowing Gaddhafi to escape a noose that was around his neck 4 weeks earlier, and then only doing so after the French and the Arab League pushed us to do so. And only after getting “approval” from the UN, all the while not addressing the nation, or for that matter the Congress.
So when President Obama speaks now only the most optimistic, almost hypnotized liberals find him convincing and inspiring. His voice sounds tired, his phrases too scripted, his personality awkward, his principles uncertain.
We have another 20 months of this administration, and as much as I don’t want to see President Obama re-elected, we need him to start leading. This nation cannot tolerate or sustain 20 months in this volatile economy and world without a leader.