IV: A FAILURE OF LEADERSHIP
A. The Test of Leadership:
The test of presidential leadership is not whether he can campaign and win an election. The test is can he govern? In order to govern, he must have the will and capacity to navigate the currents and eddies of the partisan divide, to avoid the temptation to be either a bystander or a dictator, and to forge a bi-partisan consensus on issues vital to our nation’s future. This has nothing to do with celebrity, speeches and access.
Fundamentally, it is a matter of character. Ronald Reagan was one of our greatest presidents, even though mainstream media sought to portray him as an amiable dunce. He had the demonstrable ability to forge a bi-partisan consensus, by working with leaders of the other party like Tip O’Neil. By contrast, Jimmy Carter was a brilliant man and one of our worst presidents. Where then does Mr. Obama fit in that continuum? Clearly, he is at the Carter end. His reaction to the leadership challenge is upside down, to wit: When Mr. Obama has the leverage, he is inclined to push partisan advantage to its bitter extreme, rather than forge a bi-partisan consensus. After all, that is the Chicago Way. However, when you try to do this on a national stage it does not work well. I can think of no better example than ObamaCare which was fatally flawed from the beginning. It has proven to be a disastrous piece of legislation, bitterly opposed by the American People, which led to a bloodbath for his political party, and a given the opposition no incentive to work with him. When Mr. Obama does not have the leverage, he is inclined to hold himself aloof from the process, and take cheap shots. Later, when he is compelled to intervene, he assumes a” my-way-or-the-highway” attitude, which leads to impasse. At that point, he is inclined to back out of the process and exploit the impasse for political advantage. I can think of no better example of this than the way he handled the debt crisis. Continue reading