Free Markets, Free People


Why experience and leadership count

Read the following two paragraphs and tell me which conservative publications editorial board had this to say about President Obama and the current political situation in which he finds himself.

Shellacked at home, shellacked abroad. President Obama’s Asia trip is extending a losing streak with the latest setback – a refusal by other major financial powers to follow his lead to revive the global economy.

The president’s nostrums, which began with a call for stimulus-style pump priming by other nations, had evolved into a plan to ease wild swings in currency values and overboard trade imbalances. But he got next to nothing in showdown meetings with other leaders of the G-20 nations, or major economic powers. U.S. leadership, once taken for granted, has all but vanished, and no one’s in charge.

If you guessed Wall Street Journal, Washington Examiner or Washington Times, give yourself zero points for this particular exercise. It was a trick question – the answer is the San Francisco Chronicle.

That’s right. Nancy Pelosi’s hometown newspaper, the paper of record for one of the most liberal cities in one of the most liberal states in the union seems to be acknowledging in fairly forthright terms the diminishment of the US political leadership both here and abroad.

They are also acknowledging something else that the left has been loathe to admit during these past two years. That diminished political stature is the result not just of circumstances but because of a real lack of leadership. When the Chronicle uses the words “no one’s in charge”, they’re not alluding to the financial situation being the problem, they’re making the point that the president is not exercising the basic leadership necessary or expected to do what must be done to maintain what was once “ taken for granted.”

There’s no danger of reading too much into the Chronicle’s two lead paragraphs. It is a very clear in its message. The President of the United States is not living up to expectations. And even his greatest supporters are beginning to see the results of that problem.

The administration likes to tout the fact that they have restored the good name of the US among the nations of the world after its purported decline during the Bush years. That’s a hollow claim if this is the result. “Good names” do not bring foreign policy success – only hard -nosed leadership focused on doing what is best for the country accomplishes that. And this president has exhibited far too little if any of that thus far.

If nothing else what this presidency should again establish as a guiding principle for voters in the next election is “there is no substitute for experience”. Experience is where leadership is developed and honed. Experience produces a record by which those who choose our political leaders can go for proof that a person is up to the job they’re pursuing.

The San Francisco Chronicle, among others, is learning that reality has certain rules that you simply can’t waive away. With Obama, voters did what speculators did during the dot-com bubble. They pretended that the law of economics no longer applied to that particular segment of the economy and it was alright to waive away conventional economic wisdom about P/E ratios and plunk down billions on companies who’d never made a dollar or sold a product.

Economic reality soon burst that fantasy with devastating effect and devastating losses.

Because of the same sort of thinking, we now suffer with a “leader” who has never led anything, never learned what it means to lead and is, frankly, out of his depth both domestically and on the foreign stage. The disastrous Asian trip simply reaffirms the point.

If we manage to survive the next two years under this administration there’s perhaps another very important lesson voters should take the polls when they next choose a president: the White House should never again be treated as an OJT position.