David B.




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January 8, 2009

Obama Finally Gives America a Leader Who Knows How to Lead


It would seem to be without precedent: On January 6, 2009, a sitting United States Secretary of the Treasury stood at a dais and announced that $350 billion of the $700 billion financial industry bailout package would be left for his successor in the Obama Administration to allocate.


Think about this for a moment. This $700 billion was the Bush bank bailout, one of the defining moments in the Bush presidency, and assuredly the defining feature of the stumbling Henry Paulson’s tenure at the Treasury Department. For both, it was their best shot at plucking the foundering national economy from the abyss, their best shots at determining their legacies, their best shots at self-redemption. And two weeks prior to Barack Obama’s ascendancy to the presidency, they punted.


What does this mean? Nothing short of a tacit admission that neither has a clue as to what to do with the remaining funds, now that they have squandered the first half on a succession of ineffectual giveaways to Paulson’s cronies in the banking establishment with no discernible effect upon market stability or the overall economy. And nothing short of a parallel admission that the incoming administration does have that pivotal clue.


Over the course of the weeks since his election, Barack Obama has visibly, publicly compensated for the Bush Administration’s rudderlessness and/or abdication on a succession of high-profile issues. While Bush and his minions have cowered behind Dana Perino’s no-comment skirts, Obama has issued a succession of declarations, statements, policy positions and plan outlines that effectively compensate for the giant sucking sound emerging from the White House leadership vacuum.


In the past, one might have expected the sitting U.S. president to be the one proffering bold new initiatives to address rising unemployment, war in the Middle East or a range of tanking industry sectors, even in the waning days of his administration. But as has often proven the case, the old rules simply don’t apply where Bush is concerned. Bush seems content to hide behind the scenes, riding out the days until he can take up residence in his new Dallas McMansion, a “decider” who can’t be bothered to decide. Meanwhile, his yet-to-be-inaugurated successor has publicly taken up the slack to the degree that even Republican nutcase Mitch McConnell has preemptively and publicly referred to him as “President Obama.”


That’s right, Mitch. America can’t wait, either.


During the last election, everyone from John McCain to Hillary Clinton carped about Obama’s ostensible inexperience, questioning his ability to lead America “on day one.” As it’s turned out, Obama has proven ready, willing and able to lead on day minus one, day minus two, day minus three, back to the morning of November 5, 2008. Considering this, it’s interesting to reflect on what would be happening right now if – horror of horrors – either Clinton or McCain were currently president-elect in place of Obama.


If you can stand to consider such a nightmare scenario for a moment: What, exactly, would John McCain and Sarah Palin be doing in Obama’s place at this juncture? What brilliant pronouncements, what visionary programs, what far-reaching solutions might this un-dynamic duo have had to offer America in the face of the current wave of layoffs, bankruptcies and crumbling markets? McCain, a man whose entire career has culminated only in mastery of the ineffectual mumbled platitude, would be as lost as if he were stuck on Gilligan’s Island.


On the other hand, Clinton and her entourage of bickering, squabbling, backstabbing cohorts – Terry McAuliffe, Howard Wolfson, Harold Ickes and other Beltway careerists – would doubtless remain secretly sequestered behind the closed, locked doors of some committee room somewhere, bickering about how to spin statements for the benefit of poll numbers.


Somehow, America got lucky this time: We’ve got a leader who knows how to lead.


© 2009 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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