Where is Obama's Leadership?

Posted by root | 21 Jul, 2011

What America lacks today is leadership. The budget and deficit debate we are witnessing today highlights this very problem.

Members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans, have been negotiating various plans to increase the debt ceiling and to reduce federal spending. While we may agree or disagree with the specifics of those plans, we cannot say that members of Congress are not leaders working on a solution to the fiscal mess that, in all honesty, is their creation.

The lack of leadership I am speaking about is coming from the very top. President Obama has failed as a leader on an issue that is critical to our nation’s future.

It is very basic that drawing a consensus on major legislation from 535 members of Congress in two separate houses, 435 members of the House of Representatives and 100 members of the Senate, is almost impossible without the intervention of a single leader. In other words, the head of any organization is its leader. The President of the United States should be that leader. Whether it is the budget, the policy to follow, or the legislation to enact, the chief executive officer should and must be involved in the process working with Congress to move America forward.

Take a look at health care. Once Obama Care was proposed and handed to Congress, the President backed away letting Congress hash it out. The result was that the centerpiece of his presidency nearly crashed and burned.

In the ongoing budget debate the President has not proposed any specific plan of his own, only generalities like raising taxes, while letting Congress forge numerous plans so that he could sit back and pick the one he liked best.

You may ask yourself why Obama would follow this strategy. Well, the answer is two fold. First, he lacks significant experience in government and even less skills in running an organization as large as the federal government. He does not understand what his role is and should be. A leader takes his idea and sees it through to completion himself. He doesn’t hand it off to others to get it done.

Secondly, his reluctance to formulate his own proposal is political. By not proposing his own specific plan, he can pick and choose the plan he likes best both philosophically and politically. By shirking his duty to lead, he can blame Republicans for not being flexible and forcing him to accept cuts and changes to programs such as Social Security and Medicare that he and Democrats would never propose themselves yet changes that he and Democrats both know are necessary. It’s the blame game in Washington and smells of politics and reeks of a failure of leadership.

Had President Obama been a leader from the beginning, told the American people that our fiscal crisis is grave and that it would take serious action, maybe distasteful, to clean it up, and that here is the specific plan to solve the crisis, Congress could have begun the debate much earlier; and this crisis could now be over. Instead the President allowed Congress to take the lead so he could be the hero at the end of the day.

Now the media tells us the President likes the proposal by the “Gang of Six.” He is now even willing to accept a short term increase in the debt limit. This reminds me of the guy who stands by to see where the crowd is headed so he can jump in front of the crowd and yell, “Follow me!” This is not Presidential. This is not leadership. This is abdication. I guess this is what we should expect in a day of governing by politics.