Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Lack of Leadership

Arianna Huffington writes compellingly about the lack of leadership from President Obama in the health care reform effort:

Recent polls show that while Obama's personal approval rating remains high
(57 percent), only 49 percent of the public has confidence that he will make the
right decisions -- down 11 percent from April. This means that Americans still
like him, but have less faith in his leadership.

Given his incredible skills as a leader, this is deeply ironic. How
could someone with a renowned ability to inspire, communicate complex ideas, and
connect with voters find himself in this position?

Chalk it up to another of his strengths that seems to have failed him
this time around. The president, though a dedicated student of history, has
failed to learn the lesson of our nation's most significant political
confrontations: they've required single-minded determination and the willingness
to battle entrenched opponents until the fight was won....

This is where Obama the pied piper, who builds consensus by charming and
seducing, has to give way to Obama the leader who brings about change by laying
down the law. This is not an issue where you are going to be able to get all the
stakeholders together and have the health care equivalent of a beer summit, with
everyone walking away singing Kumbaya. The president needs to drop the
delusional notion that there is some perfect plan that will make everyone happy,
from insurance companies to PhRMA to the people who want the government to keep
its hands off of Medicare.

The consensus will come later, once reform has taken hold. You
don't see many Republicans these days willing to come out in favor of repealing
Social Security and Medicare. But if those programs weren't already in place,
you can bet they'd be fighting against them just as hard are they are fighting
against health care reform now. (Back in 1961, Ronald Reagan warned that if we
passed Medicare we would "spend our sunset years telling our children and our
children's children what it once was like in America when men were free.")

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