Putting Obama’s blame game into perspective

Keith Koffler has assembled some of Obama’s finest “passing the buck” moments.

Put another way, Obama has freely admitted that he lacks leadership skills, since he is utterly incapable of dealing with the ordinary cycle of domestic and foreign politics that are part-and-parcel of being the chief executive of what used to be the most important nation in the world.  I can’t help but contrast Obama’s endless whining with Churchill’s take on blame when he gave a speech following the Dunkirk evacuation.  This was a moment of profound despair, because it was not only one of the greatest military defeats the British had ever suffered, but it brought home to everyone the risk of a Nazi invasion.  Churchill was undaunted:

I am not reciting these facts [about the disastrous situation on the continent] for the purpose of recrimination. That I judge to be utterly futile and even harmful. We cannot afford it. I recite them in order to explain why it was we did not have, as we could have had, between twelve and fourteen British divisions fighting in the line in this great battle instead of only three. Now I put all this aside. I put it on the shelf, from which the historians, when they have time, will select their documents to tell their stories. We have to think of the future and not of the past. This also applies in a small way to our own affairs at home. There are many who would hold an inquest in the House of Commons on the conduct of the Governments-and of Parliaments, for they are in it, too-during the years which led up to this catastrophe. They seek to indict those who were responsible for the guidance of our affairs. This also would be a foolish and pernicious process. There are too many in it. Let each man search his conscience and search his speeches. I frequently search mine.

Of this I am quite sure, that if we open a quarrel between the past and the present, we shall find that we have lost the future. Therefore, I cannot accept the drawing of any distinctions between Members of the present Government. It was formed at a moment of crisis in order to unite all the Parties and all sections of opinion. It has received the almost unanimous support of both Houses of Parliament. Its Members are going to stand together, and, subject to the authority of the House of Commons, we are going to govern the country and fight the war. It is absolutely necessary at a time like this that every Minister who tries each day to do his duty shall be respected; and their subordinates must know that their chiefs are not threatened men, men who are here today and gone tomorrow, but that their directions must be punctually and faithfully obeyed. Without this concentrated power we cannot face what lies before us. I should not think it would be very advantageous for the House to prolong this Debate this afternoon under conditions of public stress. Many facts are not clear that will be clear in a short time. We are to have a secret Session on Thursday, and I should think that would be a better opportunity for the many earnest expressions of opinion which Members will desire to make and for the House to discuss vital matters without having everything read the next morning by our dangerous foes.

Not only did Churchill refuse to waste time in recriminations, he looked forward to a future of vigorous battle, leading to overwhelming victory:

I have, myself, full confidence that if all do their duty, if nothing is neglected, and if the best arrangements are made, as they are being made, we shall prove ourselves once again able to defend our Island home, to ride out the storm of war, and to outlive the menace of tyranny, if necessary for years, if necessary alone. At any rate, that is what we are going to try to do. That is the resolve of His Majesty’s Government-every man of them. That is the will of Parliament and the nation. The British Empire and the French Republic, linked together in their cause and in their need, will defend to the death their native soil, aiding each other like good comrades to the utmost of their strength. Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.

That is leadership.

Obama, in the same situation, would have given a speech in which he blamed the troops, blamed the military leadership, blamed the French, blamed the weather, and blamed the Nazis.  He would have thrown in several “I” statements about his contributions, which would have been the only lights in the darkness.  He might have done a little confessional about how the English people kind of had it coming because they’d victimized the Germans when they demanded reparations.  He would have urged caution in going after the Germans, because war is expensive, and it might harm native habitats on the continent.  Lastly, he would have thrown out a suggestion about using algae to power battle ships and solar power to melt the Reichstag.

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  • http://bkivey.wordpress.com/ bkivey

    “Of this I am quite sure, that if we open a quarrel between the past and the present, we shall find that we have lost the future.”

    In my career I’ve had to take over projects, and sometimes departments, where my predecessor, had, to put it succinctly, screwed the pooch. I can say without exception that subordinates and superiors alike were not the least bit interested in my opinion on the causes of failure. What they were looking for was for me to assess the situation, figure out how to set things right, and then make things better. My execution hasn’t always been unerring, but my aim has been true. This is a basic tenant of leadership, one that even the Boy Scouts teach.

    The leader who carps about the situation diminishes themselves in the eyes of others in direct proportion to the amount of complaining they do. No one ‘inherits’ a problem unless it’s one of their own making: The Fourth Rule of Management – You Volunteered. Churchill understood this. If you’re in a leadership position and things don’t go according to plan, the only thing people are looking for is a clear vision, and for you to shut up and get to work.

  • http://photoncourier.blogspot.com David Foster

    An executive of my acquaintance was fond of the expression “fix problems, not blame.” Obama’s philosophy is the same, only in reverse.