Thomasville Times Enterprise

Local News

July 12, 2014

The absence of leadership

Have you ever seen Bigfoot walking on Broad Street, a mermaid frolicking in Cherokee Lake or the Loch Ness monster preening on the banks of the Ochlockonee River?

Sadly, you are much more likely to encounter those mythical creatures than a real leader in Washington, D.C. Leadership has gone the way of the VCR, film cameras and pay telephones.

As a result of this void, the U.S. is plagued by government scandals and crises. Each could be resolved, however, if we had a few adults at the helm.

President Obama has been especially butterfingered when it comes to handling the leadership ball. After all, it is he who coined the phrase “leading from behind,” which is an oxymoron of the utmost variety.

Leaders are always at the front of the fray, which is where Obama should be. Instead, the president consistently feigns ignorance of major problems or wastes time blaming them on someone else. That is not what leaders do.

Obama is either a pathological liar or spectaculary uninformed — neither of which should be acceptable to the American people. Since he has fired no one for not keeping him up to date on what is going on in his administration, I can only conclude that his grip on the truth is tenuous at best.

Despite his denials, circumstantial evidence suggests that Obama is complicit in the IRS targeting of conservative groups. His claim that there isn’t “even a smidgen of corruption” is laughable.

A former IRS official’s refusal to answer questions from Congress, plus thousands of “lost” emails and missing hard drives add up to far more than a smidgen. I’d say it indicates scads and oodles of corruption.

If the president was interested in getting to the truth of the matter, he would have handled the IRS situation much differently. As soon as the story of the “lost” emails was concocted — I mean, exposed — he would have said, “I have given IRS Commissioner John Koskinen 48 hours to produce Lois Lerner’s emails and computer to Congress. If he doesn’t, he will be summarily dismissed. For every additional hour that passes after the deadline, another high-ranking IRS bureaucrat will be fired until I get tired.”

Obama has more power than any person in the world and often seems confused about how to use it. The situation involving a U.S. Marine held in a Mexican jail for more than 100 days after crossing the border accidentally is a perfect example.

The president could spring Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi easily. All it would take is a phone conservation with Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto that went something like this:

“Mr. President, if our Marine is not returned to our side of the U.S. border today, you can kiss hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign aid goodbye. I will also urge Americans to quit spending their vacation dollars in your country and will work with Congress to harm your trade status.

“And while I have you on the phone, please know that if you don’t stop the flow of Hondurans and Guatemalans flowing into my country illegally, we’re going to go down there and stop it for you — not at your northern border — but at your southern one.”

Such action by the president would go a long way toward erasing memories of the “red line” he drew in Syria and other places that was ignored by U.S. enemies. Leadership requires backing up one’s words with action. Obama needs to do something bold to regain his standing in this country and the world.

Without question, his presidential goals has been consistently thwarted by recalcitrant members of Congress. He should remember, however, that they were duly elected — just as he was — and are supposedly doing the will of their constituents.

Leaders get things done in spite of opposition. Even if they can’t get everything they want, they finds ways to cajole their foes to meet them somewhere in the middle. So far, Obama has not shown that he possesses that skill or — if he does — a willingness to use it.

The president wasn’t elected and re-elected to point out the obvious in speeches that are full of rhetoric and empty of answers. He was elected to get his hands dirty in the process of problem-solving.

To this point, his fingers don’t have a trace of the grime leadership requires.

And while the president's efforts have been miniscule, no one from either party has done much more. If that's not a leadership void, I don't know what is.

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