Thursday, February 26, 2009

A New Kind of Leadership

President Barack Obama’s summit today on fiscal responsibility did not magically repair the rancor between the Parties, nor did it magically fix the impending crash of our entitlement programs. However, what it did do was to signal a new type of leadership. He demonstrated a type of leadership that I have not seen from a President in my lifetime. What this summit did was it showed that President Obama has no intention of steamrolling the Republicans even though he has the juice to do that. He realizes that in order to solve the long-term solvency issues of this nation it is going to require getting the legislative branch to work together. President Obama demonstrated many times on the campaign trail and has stated since being elected that he is not afraid to listen to differing views and when they are reasonable to adapt his views to accommodate new ideas.

How refreshing it is to see a leader who is not so insecure that he is afraid to consult with even his rivals to craft ideas and positions that benefit all Americans. The lies and secrecy of the past I think have so enamored us that many can no longer recognize true leadership or have never seen it. President Obama has always surrounded himself with the brightest people and a free exchange of ideas and in the end has determined based on his principles and a sense of the situation what is the best decision. You may not agree with his decision but it would be difficult to argue with the process. So often in the past we have had Presidents who have claimed to be one thing (new Democrat, Compassionate Conservative, etc.) and once elected have turned out to be something else. Barack Obama campaigned as a pragmatic leader to the chagrin of many progressives and won because the public liked what it saw during those two years. They liked knowing that he wasn’t easily rattled nor would he make life and death decisions based on emotions and pettiness.

The speech before the joint chambers of Congress I think demonstrated to all who viewed it that we have crossed a new threshold in American politics. The strength of Barack Obama has always been his direct connection to the people of America. There is a genuine bond that has been missing and not manufactured like the George W. Bush outsider persona that was so patently crafted and false. I watched the speech on MSNBC and they had a running graph of Democratic and Republican voters gauging the speech and there was an extended time during the speech when you could not even see the lines. The lines of both had extended past the top of the graph which represented positive responses. As the President was introduced I have to admit that I had to fight back a tear at just the spectacle of it. And the truth be told despite the recent NY Post cartoon so very many Americans are basing their opinions on this President not on his race, but on his character. I just wish I knew how to extend this phenomenon to include all of American life and its people.

I couldn’t help but remember the sovereign tone of George W. Bush after his reelection stating that he had political capital and that he was going to spend it. I wonder what Mr. Bush and Rove now thinks about political capital after seeing the real thing. President Obama is a man of the people who speaks to and for the people of this nation. As his exchange with John McCain over the helicopter demonstrated he is at ease being who he is. There are no phony everyman metaphors that so defined our previous Presidents. He does not have the scripted craftsmanship of Reagan who as the great communicator never spoke without someone else’s words. After listening to his speech I can’t see how anyone can believe that he is not up to the task that we sent him to accomplish. He may not be able to do everything, but it won’t be for a lack of trying.

I know that I won’t agree with all of his policies or decisions, but I will never be able to disagree with his leadership. We as a nation have been given a reprieve from the secrecy and bullying leadership of the past. We have been presented with a thoughtful, articulate, and courageous man to lead this nation and although you may not have voted for him or even trusted him for that matter I doubt that anyone could deny that we made the right choice. He refuses to be sucked into the pettiness that Washington has fallen into, where people who disagree with 5% of a solution condemn the entire solution. I don’t know how long this is going to last but I want to enjoy the ride for as long as it does.

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