Leadership versus Policy Wonking

So, according to Paul Krugman in today's NY Times, "What are the lessons for today’s Democrats?" Apparently, Mr. Krugman seems to think one lesson is that successful leadership resides in being first and foremost a purveyor of policy. Mr. Krugman believes that Barack Obama's supporters are in for a big, bad surprise because "those who don’t want to nominate Hillary Clinton because they don’t want to return to the nastiness of the 1990s — a sizable group, at least in the punditocracy — are deluding themselves. Any Democrat who makes it to the White House can expect... an unending procession of wild charges and fake scandals, dutifully given credence by major media organizations that somehow can’t bring themselves to declare the accusations unequivocally false (at least not on Page 1). The point is that while there are valid reasons one might support Mr. Obama over Mrs. Clinton, the desire to avoid unpleasantness isn’t one of them. What the Democrats should do is get back to talking about issues."
I disagree. We had that for 2 terms of the Clinton administration, and yet in spite of the overall good years economically, the country never came together over anything, basically, and it in fact continued and heightened the divisiveness that began with Richard Nixon. My observations tell me that what the Democrats, and the country, need is a leader, not another policy wonk with a fatally flawed personality. (And make no mistake, while Hillary Clinton may not have the same impulse disorder that her putative husband has, her over-the-top-win-at-all-cost drivenness is a major problem in her character.)
Mr. Obama, on the other hand, shows many of the true signs of leadership, primarily in that he speaks eloquently and naturally of the oneness needed in the electorate and in government in order to move the nation forward into a prosperous, safe and respected future place in the world. Mr. Obama seems to intuitively understand that the ego and the intellect must be at the service of the heart and soul, and of one's intuition and genuine gut instincts, not the other way around. Those who have led with their egos and intellects, and that includes Bill Clinton and every Republican president for the last forty years, are either oppressively dogmatic or lacking in direction and integrity, or in George W. Bush's case - both!
We truly do need change in this country right now, and that change has to go beyond the current administration's disastrous and corrupt approach to government. We need to move towards a change in consciousness, now, in the ways that we see ourselves, individually and as part of the country and the world. The Clintons are offering policy changes at best, yet nothing that Hillary or Bill say ever truly elevates us. It is that elevation that genuine leadership is about.


Peter Loffredo said...

This is from Rick:

Wow! Is this 1968??
Nice work putting together a definition of leadership and then applying it to Obama. Convenient as it may be, your romantic outlook is refreshing. How Bobby Kennedy!
The problem is, however, both the Democrats and Republicans have a nasty propensity to eat their own. The candidate who avoids being an entrée and rests comfortably on the appetizer or dessert menu will win the race.
Do you think Giuliano can capture that "elevating spirit" he had in the many years after 9/11? If not, who best exemplifies that spirit on the Republican side?

Good to see you also taking a swipe at that rag, the New York Times! I have a newfound respect for you!

Peter Loffredo said...

This is my response to Rick:

In the current field of Republican candidates, I don't see a leader who can move or elevate the electorate. I think McCain is generally more adult than most of the other choices in his party, and he has more integrity, too, but I think his mindset is not particularly progressive or innovative, nor is his style very inspirational.
After 9-11, as is the case with many catastrophic events, people do rise up to their best selves. Rudy may indeed have risen up from the ashes of that tragedy, but as a New Yorker for many years, before and after 9-11, I can tell you that Rudy was not an inspiring leader, unless you want to include inspiring a lot of people to get really angry at him!


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