Leadership & The New Politics

During the 2008 Presidential campaign, then candidate Senator Barack Obama promised the voters a change in the way business is done in Washington. He offered the hope of new leadership domestically as well as internationally, bi-partisanship, and smart government to address the challenges of the 21st Century. After a year in office, with dominating control of both houses of congress by his own Democrat Party, it is appropriate to ask how well the President has done in achieving his goals. Unfortunately, the answer is that Mr. Obama has been a total failure and his Presidency at this point is on track to make him one of the worst Presidents this great nation has ever had.

A serious charge such as that should be supported by facts, and the facts are there. The US. Constitution, in its separation of powers, gives the President the preeminent role in foreign affairs. One of Mr. Obama’s main points in his campaign was that the failed policies of President Bush encouraged the increased recruitment of terrorists by Al Quaeda, was not stopping the growing nuclear threat from North Korea and Iran, and had engendered a deteriorating relationship of the US. with both its allies and its two major competitors, China and Russia. It was candidate Obama’s contention that the world looked to America for moral leadership that was lacking, and that he would bring about the needed change.

In everyone of those assertions, the President has proved to be inadequate for the job. Despite his visits and apologetic speeches to nations in the Middle East, and his executive order to close the Guantanamo Bay prison, the terrorist threat from Al Quaeda has not subsided in any way. There have been domestic attacks by jihadist sympathizers here on US. soil in addition to the recent Christmas day underwear bomber. In a recent audio tape purportedly from Osama Bin Laden, the terrorist leader continued to harangue America, in this latest tirade blaming the US. and other western nations for global climate change and vowing to continue the war that he declared back in 1996.

In his first year in office, President Obama was the recipient of the Nobel Prize for Peace, ostensibly because of his commitment to a nuclear free world and his pledge to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet, both North Korea and Iran have totally rejected any overture from the new American President, publicly challenging him to do anything about their nuclear activities. When students in Iran, protesting the rigged elections, were being shot in the streets, the President was slow to challenge the mullah’s brutality. On the war issue, the President has not ended the Iraq conflict, but instead has gone along with the withdrawal plans of the previous administration. In Afghanistan, Mr. Obama, after a delay, reluctantly decided to go along with the recommendations of his top commanders and ordered a surge of 30,000 troops to the war zone.

Soon after taking office, President Obama had his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, go to Russia to offer a new olive branch that would reset the relationship. Despite her best efforts, the Russians have not been anymore cooperative with the US. concerning North Korea and Iran. This rebuff was done despite the fact that the President had canceled the Bush administration’s plan to deploy an ABM system in Poland. Regarding the Chinese, the President rejected a meeting with the Dali Lama of Tibet who was in the US. for a visit, hoping to please the communists in China who are occupying that tiny nation. As his reward, President Obama has become the first to be told by a communist country to get his own financial house in order.

            Regarding  America’s relationship with our allies, Mr. Obama has again failed, with no change to the  tenor of those relationships that he had declared as deteriorating. While Germany and others have been moving towards a more conservative political view in the economic sphere, President Obama has been moving towards greater government intervention and control, with excessive deficits that are causing serious fears about the international economic order. In Israel, the new government of Benjamin Netanayu has openly expressed deep  concerns about America’s commitment to Israel’s security as well as the security of the M.E. region overall. In Japan, rising tensions with America are causing the government under Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama to reconsider its security agreements with the US. from 2006, asking that the US. close its Marine Corps Air Station at Futenma, Okinawa.

Issues with our neighbors to the south are not any better. The President has been lacking in his support of Colombia as it struggles to fight narcotics traffickers and deal with the increasingly belligerent Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. While the President ignores the antagonistic activities of both Mr. Chavez and Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua, he openly opposed the democratic Honduran government when it deposed the corrupt leader Manuel Zelaya according to its own constitution.

In situation after situation, Mr. Obama has failed to provide the leadership expected of any American President, despite his great rhetorical skills and pleasant persona. He proposed a change to the way America would be perceived and how she would act on the world stage, denigrating his predecessor’s supposed unilateral “cowboy” diplomacy. Yet the truth is, it is he who has failed. A devastating comment from Polish Solidarity leader and national hero Lech Walesa concerning America’s leadership role in the world says all that needs to be said:

” … But they (speaking of the US.) don’t lead morally and politically anymore. The world has no leadership. The United States was always the last resort and hope for all other nations. There was hope, whenever something was going wrong, one could count on the United States. Today, we lost that hope. ”

On the domestic front, the President has also failed to provide real leadership, beginning with his campaign promises. The first to go was his choice of not using public financing. Once Mr. Obama, as a candidate, saw the money rolling in, he quickly abandoned his commitment to this once great liberal cause.  After assuming office, the President began backtracking on some of his most vociferous campaign causes. With regards to no lobbyists in his administration, compromised. When the budget was presented, the no more pork idea was abandoned. As for openess and transparency, these were also brushed aside. There was supposed to be a five day review period for all legislation, but the stimulus program and the ‘cap and trade’ legislation were put through with no public viewing. Then there were going to be the open meetings via C-Span, but that also did not happen. The two versions (House & Senate) of health care were done secretly, in backrooms and even on Christmas eve.

Apparently, the President decided that he would allow his Democrat Party leaders, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to set the pace and the agenda regarding domestic policy. In doing so, he again abandoned another of his lofty ideals: working across the aisle to bring in Republican support. The reason for this is that the Democrats, just like the Republicans, are totally concerned with maintaining political power. In this high stakes world, partisanship rules, and there is no leadership. So, in a double whammy, we the people not only do not get any leadership from the President, but we also get a second tier level of no leadership from the congress.

In every action of this President, the questions have become, what are we doing and why are we doing it? In each case, the answer is we are pursuing strict partisan policies because we believe in bigger government to intervene in the lives of the American people. Then, when the people spoke out, as in the election of Scott Brown to the Senate in Massachusetts, the President refused to hear the people. They were openly saying that they did not want health care reform as presented, but the President joined with his allies to state that they will push it through.

This is not leadership in any way, this is pure politics that the voters thought they were rejecting when they elected Mr. Obama as president. It was a new way of doing business, a new style of politics that was promised, but it is not what was delivered. It was supposed to be true leadership, but it has come to reflect what President Obama  has always been, a community organizer and politician who mostly voted present instead of standing upon any real principles he believed in. The President’s failure to lead is due to the fact that he hasn’t ever led anything. He has never met a payroll, never managed an inventory, never had to pay the taxes and the bills of a real business, never learned how to develop a marketing strategy to build a business. His sole claim to fame has been to get a group of dis-satisfied folks together and then march on city hall to demand action.

Why do we not have real, common sense, intelligent, and innovative solutions to the challenges America faces in this new 21 st Century? Why aren’t the two parties setting aside politics in order to accomplish such goals? The answer is that there is no leadership present to bring those ideas to fruition. If President Obama had been true to his word about a new kind of politics that ignores partisanship and exalts leadership, then we would have it. It is his failure to provide leadership in the domestic and foreign policy arenas that is causing a decline in every aspect of American life.

Where is the leadership Mr. President? When are you going to listen to the people you said you wanted to serve? Remember your calls about no red states or blue states, only the United States? What happened to all the lofty words and splendid speeches. Where is the coming together, the working together, the smart government you claimed to be bringing? As you asked in your campaign Mr. President, ” .. words, just words .. “. It appears so.