Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Antithesis of Presidential Leadership

Yesterday’s “Statement by the President on the Keystone XL Pipeline” illustrates the antithesis of Presidential leadership.

What kind of leader rejects a proposal because time pressures were too great to make an informed decision? Let’s keep in mind the fact that the XL Pipeline application was submitted in 2008. Only Government could consider a review period of more than three years be deemed “rushed and arbitrary.” What would happen to a CEO who rejected a profitable business deal because he wasn’t given four years to perform due diligence? He’d be fired on the spot.

What kind of leader hides behind the recommendation of a subordinate? The President’s statement notes that he merely agrees with the Secretary of State’s recommendation. He references the State Department or the Secretary of State four times in the first paragraph alone. That’s interesting, we don’t seem to recall President Obama leading off his speech about the killing of Bin Laden by noting he was just following recommendations from the CIA or the CIA Director (only referenced once in the entire speech). In fact, he puffed out his chest and said the following, “I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action, and authorized an operation to get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice.” He continued, “Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.”

What kind of leader claims that someone else “forced" their decision? The President’s statement claims that it was Congressional Republicans who “forced” him to agree with Secretary Clinton’s recommendation. First off, Congressional Republicans do not have the ability to pass legislation on their own - both Democrats and Republicans passed the legislation that required President Obama make a decision on the XL Pipeline. Second, President Obama signed this piece of legislation into law. If he didn't like the XL Pipeline timeline included in the law, he shouldn't have signed it. Third, the legislation does not “force” President Obama to reject the application, it merely requires him to stop dragging out the process and to make a decision on whether to approve or deny a permit for a “shovel ready” project that everyone agrees will create thousands of jobs almost immediately. To claim that he was strong armed into rejecting the permit is false and shows incredible weakness and strikingly poor leadership.

It will be interesting to see which ads make a bigger impact leading up to November 2012 - the Obama ads telling the story of Americans laid off 20 years ago by Bain Capital, or the Romney ads telling the story of Americans who today remain unemployed in towns that would have greatly benefited from XL Pipeline project.


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