May 31 2010
On this memorial day I am torn because this day deserves to be a day of remembrance and honor to those who serve and sacrifice to protect this nation. My father is a Word War II veteran who fought in the North Atlantic, supported the invasion of North Africa and then did a tour in the South Pacific in the US Navy. From his example alone (and by extension the millions just like him) I understand we are by no means the greatest generation of Americans. I look at my son, the US Marine and understand maybe his generation will fill the breach of duty, honor and sacrifice that the current ‘me generation’ has completely lost.
But I am also forced to note how lousy my generation is in leadership. My generation’s lazy, self absorbed and insatiable wants led this nation to elect a man who is all talk and no ability. When President Obama was elected I accepted the idea I did not get it, I could not see the magic or the potential. I accepted that as a single individual I could not assume my little view of the world could be special and unique (of course, there were tons of voters just like me who voted our concerns and supported Senator McCain). I was willing to give the President a shot to prove me wrong.
Sadly, my worst fears have been proven spot on. I always saw Barack Obama as cut out facade, with a little bit of the Mirror of Erised about him so people could project their desires and wishes onto him. But when you pull back the floury words (always emanating originally from a teleprompter anyway) you find someone who is quite vacant of the key characteristics we wanted, and right now need.
The telemprompter addiction is a clear hint the man is not a quick or deep thinker. He is a talking head, which could be vacant when the telemprompter goes off for all we know. But even if he has a common ability to spew policy trivia it only means that there is probably a tape recorder there behind that facade. When the telemprompter is on Obama spews what is written for him, when it is off he plays reruns. Whatever the message of the moment, he is always detached from the information flowing through him. Some people call this cerebral.
I work in a field that requires innovation, inspiration and the willingness to step up where most others are shuffling into the Â background and covering up their you-know-what. It is a dangerous yet exciting realm, the exploration of space. It is a niche business area, where the competition is tough because the minds who work this field are some of the brightest on the planet.
However, the space business is open to all kinds of people and skills because it requires a large infrastructure of dedicated people who share the generational vision of exploring the infinite unknown. From the folks who deal with the trash up to those infamous rocket scientists, this business attracts and welcomes all sorts. Computer geeks, artists, librarians, fighter pilots and – yes – lawyers.
And we get all sorts of other ‘talents’ as well. We can get the little tin dictators, the clock watchers, the do nothing except pick up the paycheck, etc. And we get the trivia wiz kids. These people come in and think spouting facts and details is a gift (apparently they have not realized what search engines and databases are for). They can, for a while, appear to have some potential. Until they have to perform, which is when they are seen for what they are – tape recorders. They run into a problem and spout irrelevant trivia – no solutions come forth.
Millions of facts are of no value unless you have the imagination and innovative mind to sequence them into a never-before-seen idea or solution. It is the problem solving characteristic that is important. The ability to look and think outside the box, the ability to avoid Not-Invented-Here (NIH) syndrome, which creates success and progress.
These days, with the massive bureaucracy encroaching even on menu selections for breakfast, you also need to inspire. You need to convince a critical mass that your idea has merit and should at least be tested – especially if you are going against ‘conventional wisdom’ (CW). CW is by definition the opposite of progress and evolution. It is complacency writ large. So inspiration to bring others with you and build a coalition to tackle a problem is a needed character trait.
And finally you need to be a leader of some kind. Willing to make decisions and provide cover for those following and toiling. Finger pointing is not leadership. Whining about how no one is solving the problem to make you look good is not leadership. Spouting trivia is not leadership.
Now we are beginnning to see why candidate Obama probably never should have been President Obama over this great land, a land filled with inspiring and innovative leaders large and small. All this is now visible in the commentary of his deflated followers, such as Maureen Dowd:
He seemed to tune out a bit after the exhausting battle over health care, with the air of someone who says to himself: â€œOh, man, that was a heavy lift. Iâ€™m taking a break.â€
Heâ€™s spending the holiday weekend in Chicago when he should be commemorating Memorial Day here with the families of troops killed in battle and with veterans at Arlington Cemetery.
Republican senators who had a contentious lunch with the president last week described him as whiny, thin-skinned and in over his head, and there was extreme Democratic angst at the White Houseâ€™s dilatory and deferential attitude on the spill.
Even more than with the greedy financiers and arrogant carmakers, it was important to offend and slap back the deceptive malefactors at BP.
Obama and top aides who believe in his divinity make a mistake to dismiss complaints of his aloofness as Washington white noise. He treats the press as a nuisance rather than examining his own inability to encapsulate Americansâ€™ feelings.
H/T Ed Morrissey. How about John Dickerson at Slate, who calls Barack the “bystander in chief”:
The vocabulary of oil drilling is so colorfulâ€”junk shot, top kill, poor boy degasserâ€”that there must be a name for the trick President Obama was trying to pull off at his press conference Thursday. He was trying to take responsibility and show that his administration is in control of efforts to stop and contain the massive oil spill in the Gulf. At the same time, he had to admit that the government hasn’t always been competent, lacks resources, and is only kinda sorta in charge. Whatever the term would be, it would include mud.
Or how about Dana Milbank’s lament that all Obama does now is take responsibility, yet nothing is happening:
In the hour President Obama spent at the podium in the East Room last week holding a news conference on the Gulf oil spill, he practiced every form of self-flagellation short of bringing out a cat-o’-nine-tails.
“The culture had not fully changed in MMS” — the agency that polices oil drilling — “and absolutely I take responsibility for that,” he said. “There wasn’t sufficient urgency.”
The administration, he explained, “was in the process of making these reforms. But the point that I’m making is that obviously they weren’t happening fast enough. If they had been happening fast enough, this might have been caught.”
He decorated the East Room with wuddas, cuddas and shuddas: “We should have busted through those constraints. . . . pre-deploying boom would have been the right thing to do . . . I do think our efforts fell short. . . . They should have pushed them sooner. . . . I think that it took too long. . . . Where I was wrong was in my belief that the oil companies had their act together.”
No wonder Americans are growing dissatisfied with his handling of the spill.
And how about Chris Matthews’ latest broadsides:
I am sorry to say this, but President Obama’s facade has fallen away and there is not much behind it. He requires others to provide the required inspiration and innovation. Did he not leave all the details of the stimulus and health care debacles to liberals in Congress? To expect him to lead the way on the Gulf Oil Spill is a joke. So far he and his key administration personnel have been leading the vacation waves, not the solution waves.