It is not rocket science. Leadership is common sense backed by a curiosity, ability and willingness to learn the facts. Above all, successful governance results from listening to the people, their delights and their outrage. I am a bit concerned about some of Obama’s actions during his three weeks as President.
You must read Frank Rich in The New York Times today:
He echoes many of my concerns that I wrote about this past week. Timothy Geithner should NOT have been confirmed as Treasury head. It is absurd to have a person direct an agency who violated the rules of that very agency. This act did not instill in me any confidence of common sense. Larry Summers is still the inappropriate blowhard he was as President of Harvard when he commented on the academic skills of women as being responsible for their less than equal rise in academia. Now he is exiling Paul Volker, an Obama economic adviser and former Federal Reserve head himself, to the hinterlands of Obama’s sphere of influence. The choice as Summers as a top adviser is void of common sense. Tom Daschle’s biggest sin was not his tax evasion and lack of honest reporting of his income. His biggest crime, in light of him leading HHS, was his cozying up and bedding the very same corporate interests that he would work with in designing a health policy for our nation. There is not an iota of common sense in Obama’s choice to have Daschle run the show at HHS.
Perhaps Obama places competence and ability to get the job done over impropriety. This will not fly. Past behavior will always come back to bite you in the ass. Geithner, Summers and Daschle are all accomplished men, all having served in high public service positions. Frank Rich quotes Charles DeGaulle (I cited FDR earlier in the week as the author, but I readily capitulate to Mr. Rich) as saying, “The cemeteries of the world are full of indispensable men.” “Indispensable” is meaningful only when the indispensable person has held the moral and legal high ground. To reward and promote these people despite their past errors is irresponsible, hypocritical and totally contrary to the common sense that leadership is supposed to embody. The only essential leader right now is Obama. Everyone else is dispensable.
Surely this job of President of the United States has a learning curve, a period of acclimation. I can only hope that Obama will pay attention to all that has passed during his first three weeks in office. I do not want to read of new rules, such as no recently active lobbyists serving in high positions in the administration, being ignored, supposedly for the attainment of the higher goal of running a capable government. Ultimately, common sense dictates that a government composed of employees on the wrong side of the law (or at least, teetering on the edge) will go the same route as its unethical individuals. Not a pretty thought.
Yes, I am a stickler on this topic. Call me judgmental, immovable, even more harsh than the Puritans in “The Scarlet Letter.” Your criticisms will go in one ear and out the other. I am old enough now, I have lived long enough, and I trust myself implicitly, to know right from wrong. I instinctively feel when promises are broken and I can smell a cover-up from a mile away. Ethical consistency is tantamount for common sense to prevail; common sense is the bulwark for decent leadership and governance.
Stephen Amidon got it right about his father, his own revelations and the definition of a decent life. Why, oh why, is the translation of these ideals to government so difficult?