President Says “Ass”, Continues to Display Lack of LeadershipJune 10th, 2010 by Lee Eldridge
Don’t get me wrong, I love the word “ass”. I don’t cuss often, but when I do, it generally involves the word “ass”. Such as “Sean Hannity is really an ass” or “These brownies really kick ass”. But I found the use of the word “ass” by the President very interesting on a number of levels. I don’t disapprove of President Obama using the word “ass”, though in the same situation (in a national television interview), I believe that I would have refrained from using the word “ass”. I don’t find it very presidential. Though here in my blog, I feel pretty free to use the word “ass” as much as I want.
The President has come under fire from both the left and the right in his handling of BP’s oil spill. Most polls have shown a majority of Americans disapproving of the President’s handling of the spill. I have some other thoughts to share about this catastrophe, but they’ll have to wait till a later post. Personally, I think much of the criticism of Obama is unfair and misdirected.
So what does the President using the word “ass” have to do with a lack of leadership? Nothing. And a lot.
Plug the Damn Hole
I think that most of us understand that BP is doing everything it can to “plug the damn hole”. It’s in their own self interest to stop the flow of oil as quickly as possible. They are taking a huge hit financially and politically for this mess. As they should. But there’s really very little our federal government can do to help. They can oversee. They can consult. They can bring in experts outside of BP to contribute ideas. And they’ve done all of that. Maybe not in as timely a manner as many would have liked, but even if they had done these things from day one, the hole would still be gushing oil into the ocean.
Cleaning Up the Mess
This is certainly where our federal government should have been much more responsive. But this just again outlines how a huge bureaucracy finds it difficult to respond to any emergency quickly and efficiently. While the feds can’t plug the damn hole, they can certainly be providing more assistance to the states that will be affected by the oil. You want to be critical of the administration? Well, it’s fair to criticize the administration’s response to cleaning up this mess. They’ve allowed BP way too much authority to handle the cleanup on their own, and have not been nearly supportive enough of the needs of the states.
Anger on the Left, Empathy on the Right
People like James Carville and Spike Lee have criticized Obama’s response, and in particular, have criticized the President for not getting “angry” enough. Critics on the right have accused Obama of not having enough empathy for those affected by this tragedy. This has been a pretty hot topic in the media, but this is mostly a media driven story. And derails us from the real issues at hand.
Displaying anger or empathy does not a leader make. We have had many great leaders in our country’s history. Many of them have been emotional. And many of them have been stoic. One of my early and continuing criticisms of Obama has been his lack of leadership abilities. More on this in a moment. President Obama could have flown down to Louisiana at the beginning of this mess, railed on BP, and shown empathy for those who are being affected by the spill, but that’s not leadership. That’s theatrics. It might have played well with his supporters and the media, but would have accomplished little else.
You know what would have been more helpful and played even better? Leadership.
“So I know whose ass to kick,” said President Obama
OK, back to President Obama’s quote during his interview on NBC’s “Today” show. Why did he use the word “ass”? It wasn’t by accident. It was very much said with a purpose. The administration, and Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, have been attempting to explain to the press for weeks how angry the President is over the spill. They’ve talked about how they have the boot on BP’s neck. How the President has told BP to “plug the damn hole”. The President’s use of the word “ass” was intended to show his anger, and appease his critics. It’s spin control, nothing more.
But does a leader use the word “ass” to appease his critics? The President is incredibly thin skinned, and reactive to criticism. Not one of his more endearing traits. And not a trait of a leader.
I had a conversation with a close friend shortly after Obama was elected. I was attempting to convey the reasons I believe that Obama is not a good leader. My friend, a devout liberal, said “I feel very well lead”. Just because you like the direction we’re going, doesn’t make the President a good leader. You might want to go to a concert. A friend may drive you to the concert. You might like the concert. That doesn’t make your friend a good driver. I have spent a lot of time studying leadership and the traits of great leaders. I have seen little of these traits in President Obama. (I wrote about Obama’s failure of leadership in Healthcare Reform here.)
So what has been the latest storyline in the press about all of this? Instead of diving into why the President used the word “ass”, and why he’s being criticized by both the left and the right, the media has now made this a racial issue. Several columnists and pundits have commented how the President must be careful displaying his anger so that he’s not labeled an “angry black man”. And the media has run with it. Really? That’s the story here?
Let’s make this clear. Most of us do not care that President Obama is black. We do not view him as a “black” President. We just view him as the President. Those who would buy into Obama as an “angry black man” are the same bigots who refuse to support him because he’s black in the first place. Luckily, that’s a small percentage of our population.