Free Markets, Free People

A Speech Does Not Constitute Leadership

But apparently, Barack Obama still thinks it does.  Unfortunately, for him, many Democrats in Congress don’t agree.  Mary Landrieu for one:

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) said health care reform “is on life support, unfortunately,” and the president should have been more specific with how Democrats should move forward.

“He should have been more clear, and I am hoping that in the next week or two he will because that is what it is going to take if it is at all possible to get it done,” Landrieu told reporters. “Mailing in general suggestions, sending them over the transom, is not necessarily going to work.”

Obama’s been mailing it in for a year. Leadership in this particular case is when someone takes the lead in giving direction to the legislative product and process so when it ends up in Congress, the kinks have been worked out on both sides before they vote and enough are happy with the product that it is able to pass both chambers. Presidents have been involved in that sort of leadership since there’s been a presidency. However, it seems it’s a foreign concept to Mr. Obama. It appears he believes that Congress should take his nebulous and sometimes contradictory musings and mumblings and put a coherent bill together which is satisfactory to all sides. The “from on high” pontificating that apparently some scribes at lower levels are supposed to faithfully record and from which they are to somehow fashion acceptable legislation that will quickly pass doesn’t seem to be working, does it?

That’s not how presidents in the past have lead and it certainly doesn’t appear the Obama brand of non-leadership is having much success. Landrieu is trying to be as tactful as possible with her “mail it in” comment, but it is apparent that they have seen nothing in terms of presidential leadership on this issue (or others). So they keep wandering in circles fighting among themselves (something else a leader would attempt to stop vs. standing at a podium and chastising them for his lack of leadership) and have produced a monstrosity of a bill which they can only pass via parliamentary tricks.

The “sidecar reconciliation” is one such trick which, unfortunately for them, seems to have a show stopping Catch-22:

“Neither the House nor the Senate have figured out how to pass a reconciliation sidecar first,” one senior Senate aide says. “We are being asked to pass a piece of legislation that amends another piece of legislation which does not exist yet. We are having problems with the CBO and parliamentarian on that front.”

Got that? The House (Democrats) doesn’t trust the Senate (Democrats) to fix the Senate bill they are currently being pressured to pass. Therefore the House wants the fix passed first so the Senate can’t renege on it. But, you can’t pass a fix on something that doesn’t yet exist. So here they sit, in a parliamentary stew of their own making and with presidential leadership simply not present – except for speechifying and berating everyone else but himself for the failure of his leadership.

It’s an amazing performance.



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12 Responses to A Speech Does Not Constitute Leadership

  • That’s one thing I was wondering when I heard him start in on health care reform.  Like the other stuff I heard him discuss, he laid out his ideas on why he feels we should have it.  He also explained what he wants Congress to do in order to present an acceptable package for his signature.  Lots of applause along the way.
    But doesn’t this just hurt him and his party, going forward.  He chided his critics, challenging them to offer up some ideas of their own, if they didn’t like his.  But he didn’t really give Congress anything to work with, other than the old “health care, get ‘er done” generalities.  Which means that health care reform will be precisely where it was prior to his speech, which is to say dead.  Democrats now have to deal with burying it while they get slammed from both ends.  Republicans will grease the skids and the President will slide them all under the bus.
    The same with some of his other initiatives, such as the spending freeze.  Republicans will use it as a bludgeon anytime spending goes up.  The President will scold congressional Dems for excess spending.  Democrats will have no choice but to bite back, not just at Republicans but at the White House itself.
    Leadership?  Fracturing your party isn’t leadership!

  • The Democrats now seem to believe in Schrodinger’s Healthcare: it’s neither dead nor alive.

    It’s not alive because they can’t see any practical way of passing it. Democrats are rapidly approaching the point (or past it) where many would lose their jobs over passing it at all, much less using some arcane back-door maneuver.

    It’s not dead (according to the Democrats) because they keep coming up with ways to assert that “it could pass if we would just do X”.

    Personally, I think if the Democrats open the box and look in, they’ll see that it’s definitely dead. Their quantum healthcare bill is just a way to avoid facing reality.

    • Billy–That is the most WIN statement I’ve read about this situation. Schroedinger’s/Quantum Healthcare. Oh, I love it!!

  • “mail it in”  – correct, the majorities he was elected with in the House and Senate were supposed to allow him to mail it in.  He was, as he has always been, present – the figurehead on the ship of state, nothing more.  As being the figurehead has always worked in his previous ‘career’ positions he really thought (proved it all year long) he could continue to campaign and the legislature would take care of the hard stuff – he could give vague orders, they’d figure out what he wanted and send him the bill.   Nothing new, at all.  I anticipate more of the same until March, when he’ll speech at us again, and then again in June, and even possibly August – a vacation in September, some stern face making as we roll into the end of another year, and then more blame for George Bush around Christmas.

  • I, for one, welcome our new gridlocked overlords…

  • A Speech Does Not Constitute Leadership

    Well, yes and no.  Inspiring the people through speeches is an indispensible part of leadership.  Churchill is a prime example.  JFK was also a very inspiring speaker.  Bush was not so hot, and his relatively poor speaking skills contributed to his troubles.

    The problem with Imeme is that making a speech (or, more accurately, reading from a teleprompter) is all he’s got.  He seems to have neither the inclination nor even the ability to do any of the hard work that is required of a leader trying to get a consensus on a complex, contentious issue.  Instead, he contents himself with making speeches full of platitudes and generalities, giving private pep talks to democrats in Congress, and whining about all the nasty people who refuse to go along with him.*

    It’s unreasonable to expect him and his staff to write the legislation (that’s the Congress’ job), but it IS reasonable for him to get the key players in the Congress together and help them reach a consensus that is agreeable to everybody.

    You know: like he told us that he said he is so good at doing?


    (*) He explicitly cuts out the GOP and gives them no reason to try to work with him.  Indeed, he uses them as a constant and convenient whipping boy, which is probably one reason that we haven’t heard much from Graham, Snowe, and the rest of the RINO’s lately: they’ve had quite enough of being blamed for his party’s failures to take advantage of their decisive majorities and have (at last) realized that cooperation will not be at all rewarded by this arrogant, treacherous man.

    • Patton made great speeches too – but he backed them up with leadership. Otherwise the 3rd Army’d still be sitting on the south side of Paris – much like Obama’s agenda.

      • Absolutely.  I suppose that we ought to thank heavens that Imeme is lazy and more interested in the perks of being the president than in its responsibilities.

  • Labeling the GOP the party of “no” works because the media never reports on the GOP’s alternative bills they proposed.

    • And in the occasional brief coverage it’s accompanied by disparagement and derision.

  • Obama illustrates the difference between ‘reign’ and ‘rule’.