I had a friend in college named David, a talented musician and a funny guy, who one regaled me with his new theory of how to be a success and eliminate anxiety and stress in the bargain.
“See, we make ourselves miserable and guarantee failure by setting our goals impossibly high,” he said. “The secret to a happy, successful, care-free life is to set one’s goals extremely low. Last week, I was depressed because I had aimed at attending all my classes, writing 50 pages on my thesis, and finishing my reading assignments. I didn’t come close to accomplishing this, and I was miserable and guilty as a result.”
“Then I had an epiphany! Today I set my goal, my only one, as putting on my shoes and socks,” David explained. “That was it, the whole thing. Look! I did it! And it’s only noon!” He laughed and skipped away, not a care in the world.
I’m pretty sure he was kidding. Yet the Obama Administration, and its increasingly zombie-like, denial-motivated supporters, appears to have adopted this approach to leadership.
In Congress this week, it was revealed by Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter that the $500 million Congress approved in 2014 for the purpose of training 5,000 U.S.-backed Syrian fighters a year for three years as a key component of the battle against ISIS has accomplished the enlisting of only 60 Syrians.
That’s not just a failure, that’s an embarrassing, shocking, pitiful failure, and one that has terrible implications for U.S. defense and security, not to mention that of the Middle East. Meanwhile, a Democrat running for President let slip the inconvenient truth that all of the Obama Administration talk about economic recovery is smoke and mirrors, as many have been saying for months. Bernie Sanders said, echoing conservatives and non-spinning economists, that “real unemployment…is not 5.5%, it is 11% including those people who have given up looking for work and are working part-time. ” So it is.
In another area previously acknowledged as one of crucial importance, the debt, the U.S. continues to add to it at a staggering rate. No substantive steps have been taken to address the problem, and even as Greece and the U.S.’s own territory of Puerto Rico are facing bankruptcy by pursuing the same kind of reckless, irresponsible, profligate deficit spending as the U.S. but on a smaller scale, no acknowledgement of the long term dangers of letting the debt climb is in evidence.
U.S. Race relations, meanwhile, are in free-fall. Since urban police departments know that the Obama Administration will pile on any hapless police officer who shoots an African American, regardless of the circumstances, and focus the full animus of the media and community activists against them, they have stopped proactive policing, causing crime and murder rates to start creeping back to the horrific levels of the Seventies. Illegal immigration is out of control, but for the first time the government is sending signals openly that it doesn’t care, as opposed to past administrations, which just quietly did nothing. Yes, that was outrageous; this is worse.
Never mind all that icky stuff, though. The progressive media, Democrats and President Obama were taking victory laps last week, with pundits writing that Obama’s legacy was secure, and that two Supreme Court decisions had proven the complaints of his critics to be fanciful. Why? Because gay marriage, one more cause that Obama tardily leapt in front of the parade to lead after it was already well underway achieved a narrow Supreme Court victory that had been widely anticipated for two years, and because his incompetently drafted and carelessly passed health care law was saved from his own administration’s botches, a near-miss that it wouldn’t have faced at all had Obama’s appointees and political allies done their jobs. These two “victories,” the equivalent of my old classmate being able to put on his socks and shoes in the correct order, justified high fives, spiking the ball, victory laps, taunting political foes and hyperbolic claims that Obama is a “transformative” President.
Look, if someone wants to think, against all evidence, that President Obama is a whizzbang President, that’s their privilege. I’m sad for them, and sad for the country that such people warp our elections and retard our success, security and prosperity, but as my Dad used to say, “That’s what makes a horse race.”
However, leaders have an obligation to be honest with the public, as well as themselves. They have an obligation to make sure that the public understands priorities, and not to deceive them, to the nation’s detriment, about the nation’s crucial goals are, what constitutes success for the United States of America, what defines a successful policy, and what the President of the United States is duty-bound to accomplish before he can start looking for a space on Mount Rushmore.
Defining success down has been the hallmark of the Obama Administration. Trying to pass legislation has been cheered as good enough: in fact, a President must be judged on what he accomplishes, not the quality of what he would accomplish if he were more skilled. The Affordable Care Act has already been pronounced a great success on the narrow grounds that many previously uninsured American have insurance. Shoes and socks. Are the increases in premiums tolerable? Is the law bringing down health care costs? Will the system be sustainable? How many employers will cut jobs and work hours to avoid the employer mandate? What other time-bombs are in the monster that nobody noticed? The answers to these questions will determine whether Obama’s “signature achievement” is an achievement at all. Similarly, Obama’s Iraq policy is a success in Progressiveland because he withdrew the troops. Shoes and socks. If withdrawing the troops triggered a collapse of Iraq and prompted the ISIS surge, it’s not a success.
Defining policy success and competent leadership down isn’t just dishonest and intentionally designed to mislead the public. It is dangerous.
I am pretty sure my college classmate knew the difference between success and failure. In the case of Barack Obama and the Administration’s defenders. I am not sure at all.
37 thoughts on “Of Shoes and Socks, and the Soothing, Unethical Device of Lowered Obama Leadership Goals and Aspirations”
In the meantime the liberals take another lap with the Confederate flag and tell us conservatives we’ve had a rough last couple of weeks and maybe we should consider a yoga class.
The “Liberals” that you speak of are horrifically hypocritical, at a deeply fundamental level. The Confederate flag is a superficial manifestation of this hypocrisy. Most the individual examples discussed in this post are superficial.
Being liberal means a commitment to protecting human dignity, and vigorously opposing all violations. The activists and enablers today, however, have adopted the methods manipulators and abusers they would ordinarily decry.
They lie. They cheat. They play the victim. They keep tit-for-tat score keeping (denying their tit that promoted the tat…).
They get angry. They shout down anybody opposed to them. Then claim they are being oppressed. They exhaust opponents. They get opponents to wearily “celebrate” their concession as “positive” steps forward.
If a man ever did this to a women, there would be holy hell to pay…
But they are hypocrites.
Today’s “liberals” are nothing more than statists who have hijacked the name. Classic liberals, from the days of our founding, were more like today’s libertarians.
Wait a minute. Are you telling me Tex is a LIBERAL?
Yup, a Classic Liberal.
Tex, your read?
No doubt. I don’t deny being a classical liberal. It’s unfortunate the dishonest left laid claim to the term and fully redefined it to make their centralizing and power aggrandizing systems sound better.
Right. Thought it was funny, is all. I too, have noted that being a “moderate” is nowadays somewhere to the left of Jack Kennedy.
In most ways that mattered, Jack Kennedy was to the right of George Dubya. A little more girl crazy, perhaps… but that’s where the advantage of being a Democrat comes in! Does anyone ever wonder what the course of American history would have been if Kennedy had lived and Lyndon Johnson had never become president? Some would probably say it would have amounted to little due to the “inertia of history”. I don’t believe that. One man in the right place at the right time can make all the difference in the world. I think history demonstrates that well enough.
A little? Perhaps???
Yes, but he was honest about it, unlike Slick Willie
You have a way of putting things in perspective, Joe!
Spoken to the Bostonian tune of “Do not pray for easy lives…”
Being involved in a shooting war with ISIS and cutting the military by 40,000 troops and reducing their budget is also not something I would consider well thought out.
We’re only shooting enough to look like we’re doing something. We won’t need a strong military soon, we’ll just declare victory and walk away so we can concentrate on buying vo…sorry, helping our neediest citizens.
Liked where you were gong with that. Shouldn’t have stopped.
The entire democrat platform isn’t well thought out if the objective is the good of nation, rule of law, and republican government.
It is very well thought out if the objective is the good of the Democrat party, capricious application of law, and centralized command authority.
Sadly, very true. The left’s assumption apparently, is that only they have the compassion to run the country properly. I gather that includes an Army that is roughly the same size as Costa Rica’s.
I forgot to look and ask: Was the White House lit at night in red, white and blue lights on July 4, like it was lit with all those other colors a week earlier? I mean, I can’t blame Obama if that lighting was not done; after all, those same colors were used in the Confederate battle flag. Gotta be SENSITIVE.
For the White House, buggerism is the state religion.
We need a President who will openly denounce buggerism.
Most of the world’s older flags use only those colours. This is because of the historical-technological coincidence that, for a long time, they were the only colours that could be made cheaply and lasted reasonably well in the open (though red struggled).
Re: Obama’s gay marriage flip-flop, I recall a (probably apocryphal) anecdote about a small French town during the Revolution. The town was small and far out of the way, and as a consequence saw very few visitors. So, the good denizens were quite surprised one morning when a huge crowd came stampeding through, singing lusty songs of conquest and victory and requisitioning most of the bemused local’s food and wine to fuel their journey. Several hours later, as the mess was being cleaned up, a single bedraggled man jogged into town, asking whoever he could find if a crowd had been this way. “Why yes, just a few hours ago,” the man was told, “but take it from us, friend, you don’t want to be anywhere near that bunch – they’re completely out of control!” A wistful smile crossed the man’s face: “Ah, but you see, I must follow them,” he said. “I am their leader.”
More shoes/socks advice: before making a business call from home, always put on your shoes.
I eagerly await charlesgreen’s rebuttal.
I know ampersand would have been spinning quite a tale with this one by now.
There’s a rebuttal?
Not in rational-ville. But I’m sure they can try.
Good article. Now that you have set the parameters to evaluate the unethical politician (redundant-I know), here is a link on Donald Trump for your possible reconsideration. http://www.coachisright.com/donald-trump/
Is that a parody site?
Maybe Obama and his legions are young enough they all got ribbons and trophies and pizzas and cokes after their little league games, regardless of outcome. This may all be learned behavior. Or maybe they just saw this being done to their kids and thought, “Hey, this could work in politics and government!”
You know, I never thought of that. That’s a GOOD point, and coupled with the law of unintended consequences, may explain why nothing is ever his fault. It may also explain why nothing ever gets done on his watch, and what does get done is wrong.
After George Bush, who at the time was universally agreed to be among the worst president’s ever. Everyone said 2008 would be the most important election ever. They were mostly right.
After 2008, we were going to either elect the best president we ever had, someone who was strong enough to rebuild the nation and our moral standing in the world, or we would slide deeper into cynicism and cronyism. We are unfortunately seeing the latter…
As you say, kids who grew up with no sense of accountability are now coming of age. In an era where “bully” is a five letter word, we are seeing kids who grew up sheltered from any sort of persecution having no true empathy for those experiencing it. Having never grown up knowing what a bully is, and hating them, they are perversely adopting their practices.
Want to take a flag down in front of a statehouse? Exploit the suffering to make a point. Claim victory for making progress towards “healing”, despite actually accusing every white person everywhere of being responsible for a lone psychopath’s shootout. Cause pain and exhaustion to support your cause healing.
Because children can now be expelled for even pointing their fingers and going “pew, pew”, and any sort of teasing is met with stern reprisal, no body has any empathy for others. No body has ever had their feelings hurt, ever, and now feel entitled to bully their against anybody who even remotely offends them, to ensure their fragile feelings don’t get bruised.
Nobody credible believed that GW Bush was “the worst President ever.” He’s not even the worst President named Bush.
Ok, yes, “ever” and “universal” is a stretch. Widespread, though, among contemporary Obama supporters, who on average only grew up under three, maybe four presidents. What we needed in 2012 was someone strong enough to inspire confidence in government in a generation that grew up under such such cynical conditions. In 2016, we need someone even stronger to reverse this mess….
I tried discussing last night with a “liberal” women in her late twenties about how the nation was going to pot. She shouted me down with a list of all the previous times the nation was going to pot and recovered, before I could point out that we recovered each time, in part, due to strong, competent leadership. These strong leaders often succeeded credible candidates for “worst president ever”.
Hard Work Is Necessary For Success, a recent Dilbert cartoon.
Let me guess. The feet are Obama’s. The sharp crease…
Goals have to be achievable. The goal of trisecting and angle using the classical insterments of geometical construction is, for example, can not be accomplished. The problem that ISIS presents could be solved with methods Rome applied to Carthage. How ever I think that the moral, political, and economic costs would be more then prohibitive.