Margaret Thatcher once said of leadership, “If you just set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything at any time and you would achieve nothing.”
In other words, vying for popularity does not a good leader make. Does anyone particularly come to mind?
Fortune just released their annual 50 Greatest Leaders list, topped by Pope Francis and graced by other world figures like Angela Merkel of Germany, and corporate titans like Jeff Bezos of Amazon. It was also noticeably devoid of President Barack Obama—a sitting commander in chief of the United States, and self-proclaimed purveyor of hope and change.
President Barack Obama attends a communications planning meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, July 6, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Just a few months ago, the Huffington Post’s Matthew Lynch took it upon himself to publish a piece entitled “The 12 Greatest Reasons Why Obama is One of the Best Presidents Ever,” in which Barack Obama is lauded for his myriad achievements. From education to health care; from the environment to the economy . . . Lynch’s piece left no opus unsung.
Amongst the praise, Lynch offered up—as reason number nine—President Obama’s relationship with the military as proof of this greatness. In his own words:
He is for veterans. Obama has consistently promoted the allocation of funds, increased benefits, job opportunities and extended resources for our nation’s veterans. Although Obama never served in the U.S. Armed Forces, he has always been a responsible and thoughtful commander-in-chief. Unlike his predecessor - G.W. Bush - he has always been conscious of the fact that troops serving in combat zones are sons, daughters, mothers and fathers. He has never lost sight of the commitment, dedication and sacrifice made by the brave men and women who volunteer for military service and he has been adamant about rewarding them accordingly.
Lynch ends the piece by admonishing his readers to accept his reasons as the substantive basis for judging this president:
If these 12 reasons aren't enough to convince that President Obama is one of the best presidents ever, then you are not thinking objectively!
Apparently Fortune didn’t listen to Lynch when compiling their list.
Perhaps more importantly, America’s military doesn’t necessarily take stock in Lynch’s words, either. According to a new poll of military personnel, “just 32 percent of military veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan approve of the job Barack Obama is doing as president. . .”
It’s no wonder. Barack Obama isn’t serious about his job, and it’s painfully obvious.
Photo credit: Washington Post
Presidents often send out letters to the families of fallen military personnel. While George W. Bush spent hundreds of hours writing personal letters to the families whose children and loved ones died as a result of the war he began, Barack Obama has routinely sent out the same form letter to the families of fallen heroes.
Does anyone recall what else President Bush did in the middle of the Iraq war, into which he sent our young blood and treasure?
He gave up a favorite pastime: golf.
I don’t want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the commander in chief playing golf. I feel I owe it to the families to be in solidarity as best as I can with them. And I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong message -George W. Bush
It may seem a small sacrifice (and was summarily mocked by many for its perceived lack of sincerity, ironically), but it showed solidarity. It showed seriousness. It showed an understanding that as commander in chief, one must lead by example and recognize the burdens he’s placed on his fellow citizens.
Meanwhile, we’re still at war and Barack Obama plays on . . . and on . . . and on . . . amidst financial trouble, global crisis, and general tension worldwide. He also passes his time on shows like Between Two Ferns with comedian Zach Galifianakis, making a mockery out of the very serious health care reform crisis burdening the American people.
In this Aug. 11, 2013 file photo, President Barack Obama reacts as he misses a shot while golfing on the first hole at Farm Neck Golf Club in Oak Bluffs, Mass. , on the island of Martha's Vineyard. President Barack Obama's fourth summer vacation on the Massachusetts island of Martha's Vineyard is humming along with the usual golf games and basketball. But the family vibe is different. For the first time, daughters Malia and Sasha are missing, away at summer camp. (Credit: AP)
He and his family took a vacation as Russia invaded Crimea. As Russia continues to thumb its nose at the world, Obama has sat idly by as Vladimir Putin asserts leadership (devious though it may be) globally in a void left by a weakening United States. Putin holds the cards because Putin holds the oil.
Instead of green-lighting measures like the Keystone Pipeline (thereby wresting the control Putin wields over Western Europe) Barack Obama’s major priority is the environmental regulation of methane emissions (those are “cow farts,” in layman’s terms) from dairy farms. Meanwhile, as he’s busy regulating the gastrointestinal goings-on of cows, his administration is set to reduce the size of the military to pre-World War II levels, despite an increasingly hostile world.
Is it any wonder our military—an institution steeped in the values of true leadership, honor, and commitment—doesn’t look up to their commander?
Barack Obama isn’t serious.
For this commander in chief, the military seems more a cumbersome formality than anything else.
US President Barack Obama takes a shot while playing basketball with children during the annual Easter Egg Roll on April 1, 2013 on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC. Credit: AFP/Getty Images
Indeed, where is Barack Obama on the 2009 Fort Hood shooting? By refusing to correctly classify the incident as an act of terror, the president and his administration continue to deny both the fallen and the survivors the recognition they deserve. Instead, he’s still calling it an “act of workplace violence.”
Where was Barack Obama when two Navy Seals and an ambassador were being brutally murdered in Benghazi? He was playing basketball.
Where was Barack Obama on the voting rights of our military personnel during the 2012 presidential election? His campaign was busy suing the state of Ohio over a law that gave them a few extra days to get their votes in.
Somewhere between bowing to foreign leaders, trivializing our men and women in uniform and running a perpetual campaign, he’s losing the respect of the world. He’s certainly lost that of our nation’s finest.
Matthew Lynch would do well to heed the words of the late Lady Thatcher in future considerations of leadership. Barack Obama has always set out to be liked. That’s not leadership . . . that’s weakness of character. And our military’s calling his bluff.
Mary Ramirez is a full time writer, and creator of www.afuturefree.com--a political commentary blog. She can be reached at: email@example.com; or on Twitter: @AFutureFree
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