Monday, April 20, 2009

Presidential Followership

In 1907 President Theodore Roosevelt ordered the American naval fleet on a voyage around the world.

The fleet was the nation's pride. It's mission showed a confident nation ready to shoulder greater responsibility and leadership in the world.

Roosevelt also believed that enhanced national prestige would promote American values and ideals abroad. For him that was an eminently desirable policy goal.

At the time the trip was considered a great achievement. France and Germany thought that a round-the-world voyage by 16 battleships was logistically impossible.

Roosevelt's gesture heralded the dawn of the American century. Instead of boasting about national greatness or pretending that submissive gestures bespeak virtue, Roosevelt displayed a great American achievement for all the world to see.

Lest we forget, he did it at a time of financial crisis, two months after the banking Panic of 1907.

Thanks to Theodore Roosevelt a proud and confident nation entered the twentieth century behind a proud and confident leader.

A century later President Barack Obama sent himself around the world and took it all back.

In his recent trip to the Summit of the Americas Obama was acting like someone who had no real interest in exercising leadership. He was happy to follow the lead of others, to acquiesce in the agenda set by nations that were notoriously hostile to the United States.

Obama refused to exercise leadership; he again excelled at followership.

Obama's agenda, if you wish to call it that, was to be one of the guys, to be part of the in-crowd, to be accepted, and to be liked as a person among persons.

By default the summit agenda centered around the grievances of Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua. They used the summit to denounce the United States was an oppressor nation that was responsible for all of the political and economic failings that had happened south of its border.

Our multicultural president said nothing to assert American values. He sat on his hands. Perhaps he believes that all values are created equal or that we have no right to criticize others when we have not fully gotten touch with our own guilt.

Above all else, Barack Obama seems to need to be liked and accepted. If defending the pride and honor of our nation might cause people to dislike him, he says nothing.

This means that Obama still has not figured out what it means to be the leader of the free world, or even to be an alpha male.

When you are the alpha male, being one of the guys is not part of the job description.

Compare Obama to Theodore Roosevelt. Does Obama embody the pride, the confidence, and strength of character that Theodore Roosevelt had? Does he stand tall and proud to defend American values?

Would Theodore Roosevelt sit silently for 50 minutes listening to a foreign leader excoriate the United States for the poverty and underdevelopment of South and Central America?
Would Roosevelt have smiled warmly while accepting a Marxist screed arguing that the United States was an oppressor state?

Theodore Roosevelt asserted American prestige and power at a time of financial crisis.

Now, with America facing an epic financial crisis, Barack Obama has diminished American prestige, and has demoralized the nation.

You may or may not know it, but Obama is preparing us for lesser tomorrows. He even seems to believe that we deserve to suffer them, as penance for our national sins.

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