Leadership Trust: Is This Finally The Public’s Tipping Point On President Obama?

giant-jengaTipping points are events that establish major shifts in public attitudes and the culture, and what determines a tipping point varies from circumstance to circumstance. When the switch is flipped on public trust, a leader is done for, at least in a democracy. This is why, in a parliamentary system,  prime ministers call for elections at such times, or even resign. It’s a tradition the U.S. might do well to consider.

The tipping point on the George W. Bush presidency was glaringly obvious: it was the botched handling of Hurricane Katrina, even though that particular fiasco was mostly an example of effective  blame-shifting by New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin. Bush had already accumulated many legitimate reasons to doubt him, but the traditional American eagerness to like and trust whoever holds the same job as Washington, Lincoln and FDR had kept his presidency afloat…until it drowned in Katrina. All was downhill from there.

Interestingly, nobody at the time argued that Americans should support the lousy response to Katrina because not doing so would cripple the Bush presidency going forward. But I digress..

Now it appears that the Obama proposal/decision/ argument—who knows what it really is?—to engage in a limited missile attack on Syria may be the public tipping point on Obama’s leadership, the moment when the veils fall and the nation reluctantly but decisively admits that the man it elected—twice—as its leader cannot be trusted. If so, it is remarkable this took so long, testimony to how much we all wanted our first African-American President to succeed. The tipping point for me was years ago. Following the Bush experience, I thought that the bungled government handling of the Gulf oil spill would clinch it, but no. Then came the Benghazi mess, with an ambassador and other Americans murdered without any decisive response other than deceptive spin and obfuscation to avoid electoral consequences—the I.R.S. tea party harassment (still being investigated, and looking worse all the time)—the NSA revelations, and the growing evidence that while the Affordable Care Act may not be the cataclysmic socialist disaster conservatives claim it is, it is also far from what the President promised. No tipping point though, until Syria, and the consequences flowing directly from the President’s undisciplined off-the-cuff rhetoric—a constantly repeated flaw in his leadership style.

Now, as tipping points do, this current controversy is resuscitating all of the past incidents, and serving as the catalyst for a reappraisal of Obama’s leadership. The looming conclusion is that he cannot be trusted.

Occasionally am beaten to the punch by a pundit or blogger who delivers an essay that says exactly what I was preparing to write, even as I was almost finished writing it. Such a pundit is Forbes contributor Merrill Mathews, who delivered an article on that publication’s website over the weekend, titled “What Happens When You Can’t Believe A Thing The President Says?” (My title was going to be “When Trust Is Gone”).

Some key quotes from the article: Continue reading

Look! Now Obama Has a Suck-Up Speech To Explain…

The Daily Caller found a previously uncirculated Barack Obama speech from 2007, and the conservative media has been giving it the “47%” treatment. No wonder. The speech is uncommonly ugly, with the future President channeling Rev. Wright and Kanye West, encouraging black anger and racial hate. Needless to say, he does not sound like a leader of “all the people” here.

I am on record as believing that such partisan audience speeches should be taken for what they are, and thus with several grains of salt, but never mind: the standard, a different one, has already been decreed by the mainstream news media, which treated Mitt Romney’s unscripted remarks about the government-dependent “47%” as more significant than the collapse of Obama’s foreign policy, the negligent death of our Ambassador, and a protracted White House cover-up of a terrorist attack. If they want to aspire to any fairness and even-handedness at all, it should devote a similar amount of attention and outrage to Obama’s remarks to black clergy, which were, in my view, far worse, because they were designed to exploit racial fears and divisiveness. They are also, like Romney’s comments, misleading and unfair.

I could argue that it is more reasonable to focus on Obama’s speech, because it was made in public, and presumably was fair game for criticism at the time. Why didn’t the reporters who witnessed it raise any alarms then? Wouldn’t such a racially divisive speech during the campaign (for the nomination) be at least as newsworthy in 2008 as the “47%” line by Romney 2012? Of course not—because the media was trying to elect Obama then, and it is trying to defeat Romney now.

Don’t be silly. Continue reading