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September 17, 2010

Obama Gets a Big Fat F for Leadership

By Chaz Valenza

President Obama may be a great leader. I don't know if he is or isn't. But I do know this, up to this point he has not taken any viable leadership actions. He has forgotten that the number one thing the President of the United States must do to be successful is to lead the nation, not to react, not to compromise and certainly not to follow the dictates of the opposition into oblivion.

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From the Department of The Truth Shall Set You Free... but first it will piss you off. Who is the better leader: Barack Obama or Sarah Palin?

President Obama may be a great leader. I don't know if he is or isn't. But I do know this, up to this point he has not taken any viable leadership actions.

He has forgotten that the number one thing the President of the United States must do to be successful is to lead the nation, not to react, not to compromise and certainly not to follow the dictates of the opposition into oblivion.


Is Sarah Palin the better leader? by Associated Press / Krupa

He failed to lead on healthcare reform. He compromised even before the debate had begun. He framed the issue too broadly and then gave up more and more to the corporate sponsored enemy. The result is a revised healthcare system that now has over 50 million uninsured Americans, does little to nothing to control costs, and won't even make any of its biggest, and still unproven, changes for two to three years.

The President failed to lead on torture reform and prosecution, on prosecution of Wall Street banking and investment fraud, on bringing a swift end to two unjustified wars, on continued unemployment compensation for those out of work for over 99 weeks, and on energy policy, to name just a few important issues that define and set the tone for effective government.

His half measures on nearly every issue, though perhaps politically more digestible in the short term, have rendered him ineffective. Now he is left with a tepid left leaning electorate at best and unmotivated base that will sit out the upcoming midterms at worst. Count me in the company of the downright disgusted former supporters wrapping their fingers on the table questioning their President's motives.

Let's take a moment to grade the President on obvious aspects of leadership.

The President's Vision for America: F

What is Mr. Obama's vision for our country? If you know, please articulate it in comments for the edification of us all.

Some questions as examples of how the President might define a vision for our county that American citizens of many stripes could rally round:

How much of our power supply should be supplied by renewable energy, by when and how?

If our monetary and financial systems are not benefiting the people how should they be changed?

Are we to be a country with a strong, stabilizing middle class? If so, how are we going to reverse the current increase in poverty?

Are we going to be a country with full employment? If so, what needs to change and how are we going to make those changes?

Do we believe medical care should be accessible to all Americans? If so, the job of healthcare reform is far from done. What do you propose as the next steps toward the goal of universal health care?

Should we move toward isolation because globalization is adversely impacting American citizens, or should adjustments be made in our international trade policy, by when and what means?

The President's Articulation of His Vision for America: F

If President Obama has a vision for our country, he has done little to set it as an agenda to be achieved by a viable plan. His half measures reveal him as a political player working a system that is broken beyond repair, not as a leader hell-bent to make necessary changes for the survival of his county.

The President's Ability to Persuade the Public: F

To date the President has not been able to make the case that his ideas and decisions are correct. Of course, this stems from not having a solid vision as a foundation, but it goes further.

A majority of Americans are dissatisfied with healthcare reform, among them many of us on the left and most of us who consider ourselves Progressives. The situation is so bad healthcare reform is being treated as if it never happened. Maybe it didn't.

The reason the President is unable to make a case for his many of his actions and ideas is they are mere political compromises. He is unwilling to take a stand or draw a line in the sand for what he believe is right.

Also, his team has failed to provide cogent arguments for those policy changes he does endorse. Language seems to be a particular problem. Is it a stimulus program (short-term and ill defined) or an investment in our future (long-term, with a specific demonstrable payoff). These are novice public relations mistakes.

The President's Message Consistency and Exposure: D

Each policy campaign the President has launched has been marked by a wait and see approach. He refused to develop, announce and stump for what he believed would be the best approach to healthcare reform. Instead he let others take the lead and he was left being a follower. In these cases, he gets an F for message management.

In other cases, he sets a broad objective but takes his case to the people in fits and starts. One day he's at an Ohio factory. The next day he's taking a swim in the Gulf of Mexico, and the day after that, and for days to come, we hear little or nothing from him.

(Aside and in relation to this discussion: I gots to give Sarah her props! Her message may be simple, but it's clear and she hammers away at it day after day after day. Sometimes she's incompetent even at this, but there's nobody who doesn't know what she claims are the big issues and what she would do if elected. A frightening thought!)

Again, this goes back to President Obama's halfhearted, half measures, half baked, half made arguments.

This country, and it's citizens, are in trouble Mr. President. This is not the time for a half governor or a half president to not be leading.



Submitters Bio:

Chaz Valenza is writer and small business owner in New Jersey. He earned his MBA from New York University's Stern School of Business. His current feature film project is "Single Point Failure" an insider's account of how the Reagan Administration caused the greatest tragedy of the space age based on Richard C. Cook's book "Challenger Revealed." He is a former Director of Public Information for Planned Parenthood of NYC. His website is: www.WordsWillNever.com

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