Friday, September 30, 2011

What kind of leader do we want?

Yesterday Steve Benen wrote a fantastic column on leadership riffing off of this quote from Gov. Christie's speech this week.

“We continue wait and hope that our president will finally stop being a bystander in the Oval Office,” the governor said. “We hope that he will shake off the paralysis that has made it impossible for him to take on the really big things.”

Really? After years of talk about the Kenyan socialist who "rammed health care down our throats" and is hell-bent on destroying the very fabric of our country, now we're supposed to think he's a bystander constrained by paralysis? Kinda makes your head spin, huh?

Benen also says that he got emails from some of his progressive friends who actually LOVED what Christie said. Those of us who have watched the poutragers over the last couple of years aren't surprised.

While some of President Obama's critics on the left are still tossing around their bags of fire, there are those who are embracing his rhetorical style lately. They just LOVE the fact that the President is finally "taking it to the Republicans" and giving them the outlet for letting loose the frustrations that have built up over all these years.

But we need to ask these folks exactly what this rhetoric is going to accomplish. It all started with President Obama's introduction of the American Jobs Act. What I would love to hear from one of these poutragers is whether or not they think the President's current approach is likely to result in a change of heart from Republicans who will now drop their strategy of obstruction because the President is calling them out. Anyone who believes that really does deserve the label of "naive."

Lets assume what might have happened if President Obama had taken this approach to the first stimulus back in 2009. Remember - at the time we needed at least 2 Republican votes plus Lieberman in the Senate to pass it. And as the country was careening towards another Great Depression - needing stimulus ASAP to stop the freefall - what if he had simply said pass.the.bill and taken off on a tour of the country to sell it to the people - hoping that would convince enough Republicans to support it?

Its now been 22 days since President Obama made his speech to Congress on the jobs bill and we haven't seen any activity on it yet. As a comparison, from the day of Obama's inauguration (January 20, 2009) until he signed the Recover Act (February 17, 2009) 28 days passed. Even if you think that time was not the critical factor, you have to imagine that this approach would have won over support from Collins, Snowe, Specter, and Leiberman. I'd suggest that's a pipe (as in wth are you smoking?) dream.

Beyond that - if the Recovery Act failed to pass - you'd have to imagine where we'd be as a country now. How would a Great Depression and a failed initiative right out of the box for this President have affected his chances for re-election - much less a progressive revival?

I hear precious few (read: none) of the poutragers playing out their proposed strategies for leadership to the end game. Their lack of ability to do so is telling. It leads me to ask what kind of leadership they want. Is it about scoring points that make us feel better - or actually getting something done in the trenches and then going on to fight the next fight to get more?

1 comment:

  1. @Smartypants - A good write-up as usual. Of course, I'm often reminded of what President-elect Obama said during his speech on election night in 2008:

    "There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won't agree with every decision or policy I make as president. And we know the government can't solve every problem.

    But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree.

    And, above all, I will ask you to join in the work of remaking this nation, the only way it's been done in America for 221 years -- block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand."

    The "professional left" and liberal critics have rarely (if ever) paid full attention to what Obama has said time-and-time again. I'm convinced that stupidity is their righteous cause. For reasonable people can clearly see their motives for what they are.