America’s fruitless search for a real leader

America hasn't had a true leader in decades.

In search of a leader

In search of a leader

Diogenes, the legend goes, spent his life searching for an honest man.

He never found one.

Were he around today and living in America, his search would still be fruitless, especially when it comes to purported “leaders” of our nation.

Which raises another question:  Can Americans find a real leader?

A time existed when the President of the United States was also considered the “leader of the free world.”

No more.  A “free world” no longer really exists and America hasn’t had a true leader in decades.

True leaders are not controlled by the dictates of their political parties.  Our Presidents, sadly, are.

True leaders are not swayed by vacillating public opinion polls, but our Presidents are.

True leaders do not follow the dictates of big-money contributors.  Our Presidents do.

So, sadly, are  the elected, and misnamed “representatives” who occupy the halls of Congress, a body of men and women devoid of leadership, principle or morality.

In the 2008 Presidential campaign, the laughable “advisers” to Republican candidate John McCain convinced him he needed Sarah Palin on the ballot as his running mate not because she was a potential leader or even a good governor.  She was a “celebrity” who would help McCain compete with another celebrity named Barack Obama.

Obama, of course, won the election because he was the better celebrity, not because of any leadership capabilities.  As a freshman Senator, he didn’t have any experience as a leader.

As President, he is not a leader and has lost much of his celebrity luster.  He promised to close Gitmo but has not been able to accomplish that, among other failures.

Obama promised “the most transparent administration” in recent years but has delivered just the opposite, concealing actions, fighting freedom of information requests and misusing the “national security” excuse to hide many documents and issues.

He claimed lobbyists would have no role in his administration but gave in both the lobbying community and his own party to allow them not only access and a role but also turned the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act over to them so they could fashion a hobbled “reform” that benefit their industry more than it helped Americans.

Obama most likely will be remembered for either the success of failure of his well-intended health care reform plan that got mangled in actual creation.

The final outcome of Obamacare will define whatever legacy our current President has as either a success or a failure.

Obama followed George W. Bush, who was many things as President but “leader” was never in contention as a definition.

Same for Bill Clinton, probably the best “political” President in recent years but it’s hard to equate leadership with a President who talked with foreign heads of states on the phone while getting a blow job from a White House intern.

George H.W. Bush probably had more actual experience in government than any President in current memory but he also made the mistake of promising to not raise taxes and then let his advisers talk him out of keeping that promise.  Is that a quality of leadership?

Some Republicans still hold on to the fantasy that Ronald Reagan was a leader. He was a former actor and not a very good one.  He put on a better role of “acting” like a President but that was about it and many of the financial problems the nation faces today came out of his time in office.

America has become a country where candidates for public office are judged as symbols of a cause or icons to support a particular point of view.

Conservatives have their favorite sons (and daughters).  So do liberals.  Tea party devotees idolize their symbols with cult-like zealotry.

But is there a single, solitary “leader” out there to offer to the American public as President in 2016?

From where he sit, the answer is a quick and definitive “no.”

American, sadly, no longer produces leaders.

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Copyright  © 2014 Capitol Hill Blue

18 Responses to "America’s fruitless search for a real leader"

  1. Ted Remington  April 4, 2014 at 9:11 am

    Over and over and over again you have castigated Obama for his failures of “leadership.” Since you feel this way you must have some ideas what Obama should have done that he has not done. Please name one. Just one. And explain what you would have done differently had you been sitting in the Oval Office.

    It is so easy to criticize by saying someone failed. But without saying why someone failed, the critic is only blowing hot air. Don’t tell us, SHOW us.

    • Doug Thompson  April 4, 2014 at 1:15 pm

      Obama campaigned on promises to curtail or eliminate the rights-robbing USA Patriot Act but, as President, has not only kept the act but increased its abuses.

      Obama promised to close down the Gitmo prisoner detention center. Is it closed? Not at all.

      Obama promised “the most transparent administration” in years but, instead, has withheld information and fought numerous requests under the freedom of information act, Under the truly “transparent” administration he promised, such FOIA requests should not have even been needed.

      He promised too keep lobbyists from having a role in his government. He not only gave in to demands of his party and lobbyists, he turned over many details of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to heath care lobbyists so they could fashion a “reform” that benefited their industry the most.

      Are these the only examples? Nope. Are they failures in leadership? Absolutely. If he also guilty of outright lies to the American people? Of course. Is it a waste of time trying to explain it to you, once again? Of course. You never have listened in the past. Why should now be any different?

    • woody188  April 10, 2014 at 1:59 pm

      I would ask that he simply stop assassinating people and detaining people indefinitely without trial. You know, follow the oath he swore twice to follow.

  2. eddie caplan  April 4, 2014 at 5:51 pm

    Doug, which Presidents, if any, would you point to as true leaders and why? I would find it instructive and maybe it might inspire somebody of real quality and character to follow their lead.

    You could write a book. I’d read it.

    • Doug Thompson  April 4, 2014 at 7:24 pm

      Eddie, I wish I could cite one among the current or recent crop but no one, in my opinion, exists. If history is correct, then perhaps Franklin Roosevelt possessed such qualities but I don’t know if you could have functioned as well in current times.

      As I have tried to point out before, the political system that drives government today is flawed and getting worse. It is designed to produce clones, not leaders, and the desire for someone or something different produces anomalies like a Ron Paul, who cult-like following ignored the many deficiencies possessed by an idol who exists only in fantasy, never reality. Some of the same cult now line up behind son Rand Paul, a even-bigger flake than his father.

      Our system produces instant candidates who are fluff, not substance, and are in cases creations of consultants who cast elections as if they were situation comedies.

      Perhaps a leader cannot emerge until the system itself is scrapped or a least substantially revised. I worked inside the political system for 10 years, ran a congressional campaign with no prior experience, consulted on others with no knowledge of what was needed and ran the nation’s largest political action committee with no qualifications. In a system where quality or experience counts, I should have never held any of those positions.

      And I was just one of the examples of how badly the system is flawed and out of control.

      • woody188  April 10, 2014 at 2:00 pm

        Eisenhower was probably the last real leader.

    • Danny Adams  April 10, 2014 at 9:51 pm

      I’m a big fan of Theodore Roosevelt myself. Aside from projecting American military power across the globe, though, he would likely be viewed as a liberal nowadays.

  3. Ted Remington  April 4, 2014 at 6:02 pm

    1. What did Obama increase in the Patriot Act?

    2. Congress refuses to appropriate money to shut down Gitmo and their refusal becomes Obama’s fault. Ahg, yes, deflection.

    3. Transparency, I grant, has not been what I hoped for.

    4. I disagree on the lobbyists. http://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/ The number of lobbyists has DECREASED every year since Obama took office. Dollar figures reveal they are spending less. If you adjusted for inflation the decrease would be more striking. As to ACA, there was only one way to get it passed. Obama took that route. A start.

    Your inability to accept the realities of politics in the post-Bush milieu has seriously affected your judgment, Doug. You keep forgetting the fact that the Republicans announced the day after the 2008 election that their sole goal was to destroy Obama’s presidency. In order to save the country they had to destroy it.

    • Doug Thompson  April 4, 2014 at 7:39 pm

      Obama’s misuse and expansion of the Patriot Act is well documented. On May 26, 2011, he signed a four-year extension of the three onerous provisions of the USA Patriot Act: roving wiretaps, searches of business records and expanded surveillance of Americans. NBC, on June 11, 20123, documented increased use of the Patriot Act to collect records of U.S. citizens.

      http://investigations.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/06/11/18887491-fbi-sharply-increases-use-of-patriot-act-provision-to-collect-us-citizens-records

      Steven Rosenfeld, on April 18, 2012, noted that Obama has become “a civil libertarian’s nightmare.”

      http://www.alternet.org/story/155045/how_obama_became_a_civil_libertarian%27s_nightmare

      Wrote Rosenfeld:

      When Barack Obama took office, he was the civil liberties communities’ great hope. Obama, a former constitutional law professor, pledged to shutter the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and run a transparent and open government. But he has become a civil libertarian’s nightmare: a supposedly liberal president who instead has expanded and fortified many of the Bush administration’s worst policies, lending bipartisan support for a more intrusive and authoritarian federal government.

      On Gitmo, he backed down when Congress challenged him. A leader would hot have given in so easily. When you look at his flip-flop on the USA Patriot Act, it is easy to see why he didn’t push on Gitmo. I now doubt closing Gitmo was ever part of his plan.

      As for lobbyists, his promise was not to “reduce” the number of lobbyists but to “now allow” any lobbyists to have a role in his administration. He lied about that. Lobbyists had a major role in health care “reform,” which watered down the program. This is not horseshoes and success is not measured by closeness. You either do what you promise or you don’t. He did not.

      Your zealot-like defense of Obama often matches the zeal of the Ron Paul cult when it comes to promoting their poster child. You make it look like the column was an attack primarily on Obama and/or a knee-jerk reaction to the post Bush years. In fact, and it is a fact that you often overlook, the piece was a condemnation of the system as well as the flawed actions and lack of leadership of the past five Presidents.

  4. Anon E. Moose  April 5, 2014 at 4:18 am

    A few years back, there was talk about a constitutional amendment to eliminate the electoral college. Some of the senior DC talking heads poo-pooed the idea because of the decreased role of the major parties and possible rise of regional parties. I personally thought this would have been a good thing.
    The public as a whole has become to accustomed thinking in terms of dichotomies; left/right, us/them, Dem/Rep, etc. With a breakup of the two party system, it would take coalitions to accomplish tasks. It would be a lot harder to point a one or two people and tear them or their position down. To accomplish things, it would require a certain amount of compromising, but it would also require a whole lot of campaigning on the positives of a desired course of actions.

  5. bryan mcclellan  April 5, 2014 at 10:39 am

    Term limits and the power to recall any and all public servants..Humans function best under threat of the hatchet coming down. Now, how do we keep the chopping block from being moved ?

  6. Roy West  April 5, 2014 at 5:33 pm

    Doug, i am proud of you for your assessment of the past 5 presidents. I disagree respectively on Reagan but that is my opinion. The NSA gathering of information on private citizens is the worse item Obama has done as far as increasing the Patriot act. That act was supposed to only monitor phone calls between the US and terrorist nations, not a bad thing. I believe Obamacare will implode within the next couple of years as it can not succeed as it is implemented. It will become such a burden on the states they will have to opt out of it as they can under the 10th amendment. It is already non constitutional due to the changes by Obama without the consent of congress. Presidents do not make laws. That is done by congress if we still believe in the constitution.

    By the way, i will be reading this web site from now on.

  7. Jon  April 7, 2014 at 8:14 am

    It won’t be our next president, or even the next, but someone after that is, using control of an organized militia (sorry, loners with guns), going to waltz in and take power.

    The bulk of the populace, armed or not, won’t do a damn thing about it. They’ll be happy. They’ll make gags about the trains running on time. They’ll worship his face. Constitution, what constitution? They might have to stand in line down at the Chevron station, but they’ll dutifully stand in line for their Dear Leader.

    Worse will be when the new leader winds up shot.

    After that, the rain.

    Beware what you ask for in a leader.

    Jon

  8. Ted Remington  April 7, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    ” And explain what you would have done differently had you been sitting in the Oval Office.”

    Waiting.

  9. realoldguy  April 7, 2014 at 7:38 pm

    Comrade Stalin sounds just like the sort of real leader you’d approve of!

    • Danny Adams  April 10, 2014 at 9:53 pm

      Now there’s a freakishly long leap of illogic that has nothing to do with the actual post.

  10. Carl Nemo **==  April 9, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    A fine, spot-on editorial Mr. Thompson along with your rebuttals. I haven’t posted in some time, but glad to see you are back in the saddle along with your keen assessment concerning our failed leadership in these challenging times.

    Carl Nemo **==

  11. realoldguy  April 9, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    Come on, money is the only American “value” that matters. If Americans weren’t as cheap as they are moral they’d realize that the only way they’ll get a “real leader” — one who is more interested in their interests than those of the 1% and their corporations — would be to buy one for themselves. And that would take more in campaign “contributions” than that one $5 contribution every four years.

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