Obama a Presidential Leader?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The truth is this country gambled on Obama. With no resume or experience to base our decision, we judged him by his ability to use a teleprompter, his talent at campaigning and the promise of a different direction than Bush. From his oratory, we ascribed Obama intelligence and leadership. Although a gleaming political resume is not a requirement for being a successful President (Think Lincoln, a two term congressman who never proposed a bill in his life), some people will simply never be able to fill the shoes. I pride myself on being a good observer and so I’ve listed a few things that I’ve been watching in Obama. Please note; these are purely conjectures, but all the same, something worth keeping your eye on.

Obama is possibly inadequate to fill all of the roles of the President. For those of you that don’t know what they are, they are commander in chief, Head of state, and executive in chief. We haven’t seen much from him on the commander and chief side, but then again, this may or may not be a strike against him.

• Head of state – Where is Obama on the national scene? Iran is getting closer to being a nuclear state (very public about it too), North Korea is rattling the saber, and China is practicing cold war tactics in international waters. Yet, Obama has no comment, no direction, nor policy. He’s left Clinton (no experience as an ambassador) to herself. It’s clear his administration wants to change our foreign policies. However, it’s na├»ve to believe that world leaders will open their doors because you speak well and are not Bush. We’ve heard a lot about how the world views Obama better, but that has not turned into any action of substance. We’ve extended a reset button to Russia in regards to our nation’s relations. They’ve rejected it. So far Obama has strained ties with NATO Eastern European Countries and Israel to reach out to Russia, Palestine, Syria, and Iran. All the while, he has done so publically, but silently. Each turn has been fruitless, except indignation from countries we’ve long been allies. Obama snubbed Britain when Brown was in Washington. Whether he was ignorant or deliberate, I do not know which is worse.

• Executive in chief – Geithner has been going down in flames. He has not appointed any staff to his department and has failed to give any details on his department’s actions. Obama is his boss and needs to rein him in. Coach him if needed, provided Obama understands what is going on, which I am doubtful. Obama is absent from foreign policy as noted above, leaving an inexperienced Clinton to sink or swim. What about his cabinet chief vetting process (I’m not saying anymore there).

Meanwhile, where is Obama while the economy is in crisis and the world is looking to the US for our new foreign policy? He’s campaigning for the stimulus he’s already signed. Now, I know a little about leadership. I have a long history in leadership. I have mentored others to become leaders and studied leadership academically. There are a few things that I know about the subject. For example, how do incapable leaders deal with their insecurities? One of the most used methods is to engage only in the tasks with which they are successful, even to the detriment of achieving one’s goals. For example, a successful accountant turned gas station manager. Perhaps, the gas station is suffering from lack of business and the accountant needs to get more clients. Instead, our incapable accountant leader will lock the office door and obsess about the books. He’ll focus on making sure the cash register is not short or over. He’ll focus in on the time you clock in. While facing something they’ve never done before, they will resort to whatever activities they feel most comfortable to relax their inadequacies.

Obama is out promoting his stimulus plan, but for what reason? Sure he’s come under fire and I can understand the desire to defend his actions, but he’s not up for election anytime soon. There is plenty of time for his plan to take effect and work or not work. Either way, his stimulus promotion now will be worthless by the time we the people determine the outcome. So why is he out campaigning? Most politicians campaign for their bills until they are passed and move on. Could it be that he feels inadequate and is using a new campaign to distract him from his insecurities? After all, campaigning is one of the few things he does well.

Now I understand and agree it’s too early to make a final judgment on Obama. He may be doing what Bush should have been doing with the Iraq war. Still, since we don’t know Obama, we can only be left with the idea that our President may be in over his head.


The Law said...

Your point is well taken, and I'm sorry Obama hasn't filled you up with confidence. Still, I'm having difficulty seeing where you are drawing these conclusions (however early) from.

There's something that people have to realize about Obama... he is not, and has never been a typical politician. I have followed him for 1 and a half years, and watched just about every speech he's made and every documentary he was in. President Obama has his roots in community organizing. And he uses his skill to connect with people as his primary tool to create and promote policy. Yes, the places to where he travels is strategic, but there is little point in promoting a stimulus bill in New York City -- he already owns that constituency. Air Force One is going to log a lot of miles because that's who he is... a President for a change that vigorously tries to connect with Americans from all walks of life.

Obama is also one of the most academically gifted Presidents we have ever had (It might not be a stretch to think of Obama as the modern day John Adams in terms of intellectual prowess). His oratorical genius is just icing on the cake. I don't see why there is such a need to rush into action... rushing to conclusions is how we got into all this mess in the first place. He is constantly talking with advisors and drawing up diplomatic ways to fight this war. The middle east will NEVER EVER be won through military combat unless we drop a nuke on it, so diplomacy is what we have to do. And considering his first major act as commander in chief was give veterans twice the amount of money in the budget than originally alloted so they can get the proper health care and benefits they need shows he is cognizant of the physical, mental, and emotional anguish these men and women go through from multiple tours of duty. That's a page out of Sun Tzu's book (from the Art of War - keep your soldiers well def and happy)

I think we ought to be impressed that after only 60 something days, that he can juggle all these balls in the air and still manage to make progress on each of the problems we face today.

I think it is not best to confuse in over his headness with a methodical approach to an enormously complex problem.

my $.02


March 12, 2009 at 5:13 AM


Your views are always refreshing. As you stated and I conceded in the post, it is too early to tell. My point about his campaigning for stimulus was not about where or who he was going to or addressing, but why is he doing it after the stimulus? Perhaps it is good PR, but I believe that it may also be because that is what he feels most comfortable doing.

Your post made me realize I need to work on the diversity of my posts. Time has been really short so I haven't had time to polish my comments nor post on everything I want to say. I've been meaning to do a post on what I like about Obama. Try to hold me accountable to that, but everday I see hypocracy in our politicians republican and democrats and everyday I'm seeing Obama looking more and more like them.

On a different note from my post, I must admit Obama sounds good when he talks. It's like listening to Bob Ross while he painted, but I must also admit, that I am not impressed (I'm not saying I'm anywhere near as good). I have long read and studied the speeches of Lincoln and Churchill and Obama is nowhere in their talent. Obama's a masterful salesman, Lincoln and Churchill were transformational. Obama talks about his policies, hits on all the key phrases, and tells you they are going to solve all your problems by telling you what you want to hear. Lincoln and Churchill told people the hard truth and although people would at first deny, they were convinced. When campaigning, Lincoln didn't go around speaking to the people that agreed with them and say I'll make your "wildest dreams come true." He went to the people that disagreed with him and convinced them the slavery should not be spread. His speeches are riddled with persuasive arguements about how the Founding Fathers intended that slavery end and die and he was convincing. I see none of this in Obama.

However in regards to my confidence. I have lost much confidence in our government leaders. I have Bush and many former congressional republicans to thank for that. However, let me give you a piece of advise, least you be disallusioned to your party. It's not doing something to solve a problem that matters, it's how you do it. Right now Obama is saying we need stimulus, health care reform, green energy, and accountability. Who doesn't agree with all of that? I do. However, we need to do all of it the right way. There is not a lot of discussion going on about the right way. Obama needs to do more than just check broad goals off a check list. He needs to do it the right way, or he'll find himself with an Iraq or Afganistan.

I digress, this is not what my post is about. My goal in this post is to point out that Obama is human and not a machine. He has never led before, never needed to come up with solutions to problems, and never needed to convince people that his solutions are the correct ones. You can't say what I said above was covered in his campaign, he didn't give specifics nor convince. As you say, he was about connecting and gaining trust instead. That's fine, but now the rubber has met the road and whatever direction he takes us has consequences. Are you sure you know what they are? Bush certainly was not mindful of them. It's not time to do Bush all over again with a liberal version. It feels good to get vengence, but we need something better.

I'm rambling, what are your thoughts?

March 12, 2009 at 8:06 AM
The Law said...

Re: diversity of thoughts, I wouldn't worry much about that... speak whatever is on the the top of your head! I mean I don't judge ya for that - that's what blogging is for!

Re: everything else,

I like to compare history with music because it is my specialty, and it really fits with a point I'm going to make... When hear classical music today, we think of it as musical art at it's highest form. What many fail to realize is Bach's music was not very popular in his time(though most all modern harmony is based off his works), Telemann is today's Jay-Z, busting out hit single after hit single, and Mozart was like 2-Pac, a talented musician who's career was shortened by an early death. Sure it was "art" back then too, but it was modern entertainment; it wasn't held to such standards until centuries later.

Likewise, Lincoln wasn't considered to be the best president the day after he was shot; history determined that several decades later. And a prime minister who was on the winning team of a horrific war (who also happened to be incredibly intelligent and articulate) is destined to have instant street cred.

The reason why Bush is unarguably one of the worst president's we've had is because he did things that were SO bad, we don;t have to wait for history to judge the outcome of his actions, particularly the unjust, and unconstitutional expansion of executive power, and an ill-planned war that ultimately made us weaker and Iran much stronger. There is a strong case to be made that Iran is now a middle easter super-power because of our war with Iraq.

Thus, it is, as we both concluded far too early to know what the impact of Obama's policies are - whether he did things the "right way" or "wrong way" has yet to be seen. Within 2 years time, possibly sooner, we'll have a much better idea of the impact of Obama's decisions.

However, we can't forget that although he lacks congressional leadership experience, that doesn't mean he lacks leadership skills or natural talent or leadership. He spent a good part of his life in the trenches, working with the poor, the sick, and the disenfranshised. He approaches his policies with these people in mind, which is not like many of the last presidents - The Bush's had oil wealth, and Regan was an actor (Clinton came from pretty meager beginnings). When Obama says he is here to help the middle class, I beleive it, because he rejected BIG money to pursue a career in civil service for the underprivileged.

Also, it is important to remember, Obama is a lot like us in that he loves a good debate. That's how he formulates ideas... he has talks much like ours with polticians, business owners, American citizens, etc, from those discussions, he synthezies the main idea - the common thread - and uses that to create policy. A number of people have commended him on his ability to do that s president already. You're not likely to see too many plans that have been made without much deliberation on Obama's part.

Still, I completely understand your disillusionment with government... I lose my faith in them sometimes as well, but I'm also a hopeless optimist. I voted for Obama, because he is the closest thing to a "president for the people" I have seen in a long time.

that's abotu all the juice I got =)

March 13, 2009 at 10:36 AM


I love the music analogy. Being around musicians all the time, your comment strikes a chord with me, but I need to think about it. However, I think you need to reflect on what is going on and the consequences. Obama is proposing anything new. Some are good, but everything he wants to do has been tried and has been proven a failure in Europe. Europe, which has done nothing but decline since socializing (I could go on). Just because it's not been tried her does not mean it's going to work. You've mentioned that we need to compete with Asia and you are right. They are gaining ground because they are not handcuffing their progress with government that we are. If you look at all the fast growing Asian nations, China, India, Taiwan, South Korea and they are freeing their markets up. We want cap and trade, capital gains taxes, income taxes, energy taxes, and dividends taxes. We are our own worst enemy. I don't think we should wait for history to judge our president's actions right or wrong. That's our job now.

I must comment that I also liked that Obama was not long in the Washington politics, but you can't say that he has not been touched by money. Someone monetarily supported him in Harvard and he's not saying who.

However, if you have more music analogies, I may be able to understand more :)

March 13, 2009 at 5:41 PM
The Law said...

Just a quick note... Obama said in his conference with business leaders that he does not want to have capital gains taxes and another type of tax... maybe luxury tax, or personal items tax? on small to medium business owners. And cap and trade will not take effect 'til 2012... so businesses have three years to make their businesses energy efficient. And in some cases, if they do, they get a tax credit.

about Obama's money, I mean he turned down big money to work at a prestigious law firm to do community organizing in Chicago... I'm not sure I'd do that! hahahaha

fun debating though man =)

March 13, 2009 at 7:50 PM

I certainly would not have done it! However, he does owe many interests for their nearly billion in donations for his election. Everyone in politics owes someone.

I like that cap and trade's not happening this year, but doing it 3 years from now doesn't make it a better idea.

Also, I think you're right with you music analogy. However, and I'm not trying to say Obama is Hitler. Hitler also spoke well and struck a chord with the down trodden of Germany. What is important is what he says not how he says it. We must strutinize our leader's ideas and principles.

Your analogy makes me think of how rap music sounds awesome. Makes you want to dance, but can we believe or should we live by the lyrics in rap music? Now take Obama, he sounds good, just like rap, but there is no metal in his words. The question is can we or should we live by what he says and promises?

March 16, 2009 at 12:21 PM

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