Everything is about money, or so it seems, as we stumble along to finally completing this mid-term election cycle. It they could push that election up to this Thursday, I would be delighted. Enough already, let’s get this done and over with. In any event, it is the Financial Deficit that has everyone’s attention. Although that is understandable, given the financial mess we are in, it is not the real deficit that requires the most attention and concern. That deficit is the Leadership Deficit. And this is not simply an American deficit problem, just take a moment and consider Europe. Yes, the Brits may be turning a corner, but let’s wait and see if the implementation of their government’s bold plan in the future is seen as positively as its announcement. But that is their problem. We have our own and our deficit is large enough to warrant our full attention in the US.
In my view, a leader is not simply someone elected to a leadership position. It is a person who takes stock of where we are now, where he or she wants to take us, prepares an outline of the steps necessary to get from “here” to “there”, then turns to the rest of us, explains their approach, asks for our support, then turns back and leads. If the majority follow the would-be leader, then I can think, that’s a successful leader, whether I agree with the approach or not. If the majority fails to follow the would-be leader, then I can think, that’s a failed leader, whether I agree with the approach or not. That last step of communicating with the would-be followers is the most critical of the steps. Without enough followers to “get the job done”, whatever that “job” might be, the would-be leader is a failed leader.
In other words, a successful leader must not only be inspired, he or she must be inspiring. You may have a different perspective, but that’s how I see it.
In the US, we know behind what desk sits the most critical leader to our nation. It’s the same desk where Harry Truman told us the buck stopped. As the only leader, American or otherwise, in human history to have used nuclear weapons as weapons to kill, not weapons to test, he knew exactly where that buck stopped.
Insofar as I am concerned, President Obama is a failed leader so far. My analysis is directed toward the future, not the past, so the first thing I must always remember is that I am human and imperfect, just like you, thus I cannot accurately predict the future, only make a general forecast. So I am not going to predict Barack Obama’s future. I will leave that to him where it belongs, and to those with personal or political agendas requiring it or those who are foolish enough to think they are super-human and can accurately predict the future. Good luck to them, but I am not among their number. This is for Barack Obama to decide.
However, the evidence of President Obama’s failure as a leader to date is simply too obvious to ignore, even by most members of his own party. Whether they want to discuss it openly or not, he has yet to succeed as their party’s leader, much less the nation’s leader, and even less a global leader. I do not hate Barack Obama. I do not even dislike Barack Obama. I believe he is an intelligent man and well-intentioned, one who believes that his leadership has been successful and can’t understand why he doesn’t have more followers. I don’t hate him, I feel sorry for him and genuinely hope he gets his act together and surprises us all on the upside in the next two years. But until that happens, he is a failed leader in my book.
He is not the first. Unfortunately, I see him as part of what looks like a trend, but he is not the national leader who started it. George W. Bush was a failed leader and I know that there are many in his political party who agree, but he wasn’t the first in this trend either. I didn’t know it at the time, but the first step in that direction occurred for me on January 17, 1998 when Matt Drudge broke the story that Newsweek refused to break and introduced us all to Monica Lewinsky. Bill Clinton’s response to that was certainly uninspired and uninspiring. He forced our focus off critical issues of real importance and put it on a semen-stained dress. Shame on him. But the two Presidents who have followed have added to the Leadership Deficit to such an extent that what could have been just a very unpleasant, but relatively brief, period in American political history a decade or so ago now appears to have begun a trend.
Yes, there have been periods of successful leadership since, most notably post-9/11, but they pale in comparison to the failures. We are soon to finish our twelfth year of failed leadership and that is way too long a time. Again, enough already. Unfortunately, I can say “enough already” until I’m hoarse, but I can’t do anything about it.
I can’t tell you if President Obama is going to turn his failure into a success, any more than I can you which Republican or other Democrat may do the job, should he fail again.
But I can tell you this. As far as I am concerned, no other deficit, financial or otherwise, threatening the future of this nation is likely to be dealt with successfully until the Leadership Deficit is replaced by a Leadership Surplus. We have gone too long running up Leadership Deficits. We need a big Leadership Surplus and the longer we have to wait for it, the bigger the surplus we will require and the longer we will have to wait until Americans feel their nation and their leadership are “balanced” once again.