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Fourth Piece: Are You Being Guided, Mr. President, by the Wrong Advisor?

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Headlined to H2 8/26/09

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I've proposed that you changed your approach once you became president
from the one that brought you to the presidency. (And I've argued
that this was a mistake, because the secret to your power is staying
connected with the moral and spiritual force that drove your amazing
swift ascent to the most powerful office in the world.)

The question arises: Why this change in your path following Inauguration Day?

I can't claim to know, but I have a strong suspicion.

It might be that you had too strong a compartmentalization in your mind
between running for office, on the one hand, and governing, on the
other. So perhaps when it came time to change from campaigning to
running a government, you over-did the transition, forgetting the true
engine of your power.

It might also be that you felt unready for the realities of the awesome
power you were now in a position to wield in the world. So
swiftly rising from obscurity to such huge potential power, you perhaps
chose (unconsciously one would suppose) to inhibit yourself by holding
back on exercising the true source of your power.

But my suspicion is that the problem lies elsewhere. My guess is
that between the campaign and Inauguration, THE PRINCIPLE ADVISORS

I suspect this for two reasons.

First, in the team that ran your exceptionally effective campaign, Rahm
Emmanuel was not included. Yet as you became president, he became
your right-hand man. The change in central advisors corresponds
in time with your change in approach.

Second, if I read Rahm Emmanuel's nature correctly, despite his
undoubted brilliance and capability, he is not a man who'd understand
well the nature and power of the moral and spiritual force that, as
I've argued, are what brought you into the presidency.

Emmanuel seems like one of those hard-headed "realists" who are great
with dealing with the conventional realities of the world. But
the problem with such realists is that they tend to be blind to some
realities that can be the most powerful. (Like the CIA analysts
who thought the Shah was impregnable and had no inkling that a
religious leader like Khomeini might bring him down.)

You've been governing like a man who has greatly underestimated the
potential power of his leadership, and my suspicion is that it's
because you've been guided in your presidency by the strategic advice
of a man to whom a large part of your potential power is invisible.

Someone whose worldview does not recognize the power of moral and
spiritual inspiration to move the world will hardly be able to make the
best possible strategic judgments about how you should conduct your
battles. He will not be able either to judge well how to use your
most powerful weapons, or to weigh insightfully how their use will
impact the outcome of battle.

If I am correct in my intuitive speculation about Emmanuel's
abilitiies and limitations, then I would suggest that Emmanuel's
role should be limited to tactical and operational matters. His
voice should not weigh heavily in devising your overall strategy-- in
general or with respect to particular issues.

Presumably, the people with whom you worked during your campaign
understand how to tap into that moral and spiritual force that worked
so well in bringing you to the presidency. Possibly, that team
needs to be supplemented by others who understand how to tap into the
visionary dimension and to wed it to practical politics. But your
campaign suggests that between you and others, like Axelrod and Gibbs,
there's already understanding enough to re-connect you with the Force
that can make you a powerful, effective, transformational president.

Turn back to the places from which ideas came like the staging and crafting of the speech in Grant Park on November 4th.


Andy Schmookler, an award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher, was the Democratic nominee for Congress from Virginia's 6th District. He is the author of various books including The Parable of the Tribes: The (more...)
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Mr Schmookler, I agree with you. The only thing I ... by macdon1 on Wednesday, Aug 26, 2009 at 11:08:33 AM
...left to operate at the top! They are everywhere... by Bia Winter on Wednesday, Aug 26, 2009 at 12:22:28 PM
It could also be Libya, which just gave a hero's w... by WML on Thursday, Aug 27, 2009 at 6:10:40 AM
Dear Andy Your letter more and more resembles the... by Mark Sashine on Wednesday, Aug 26, 2009 at 1:17:46 PM
or Barack Obama may be just as inept in actual gov... by t rogers on Wednesday, Aug 26, 2009 at 5:43:25 PM
I think you are right on the mark in pointing to E... by Bryan Emmel on Wednesday, Aug 26, 2009 at 11:36:00 PM
when he became a Prez. It is called ' To serve and... by Mark Sashine on Thursday, Aug 27, 2009 at 8:57:57 AM
August 26, 2009Fourth Piece: Are You Being Guided,... by liecatcher on Friday, Aug 28, 2009 at 2:00:29 AM
You call me blind for seeing a good possibility.Yo... by Andrew Bard Schmookler on Friday, Aug 28, 2009 at 9:36:04 AM