Obama and leadership

I’m keeping up with the news while on Bear Island this summer by subscribing to the Christian Science Monitor. It’s a weekly news magazine with concise articles and commentary on current events. It’s also intelligent and fairly non-partisan. There’s very little of the us-versus-them dialog that marks most political dialog in these times.

(Poor Christian Science Monitor…I am paying an introductory rate of fifty cents an issue, but it costs them $1.88 to ship it to where I am in Alaska.)

There was an interesting article in the "Commentary" section of the recent edition, "The big lie that Obama can’t lead is crumbling," by Walter Rodgers. His primary point is that Obama has been a good leader. He’s been subtle and understated at times, but he has been a good leader. Rodgers notes that "American culture mistakenly prizes bravado and arrogance as sure sings of leadership…It’s a bias we learn as kids. Our history books lionize war heroes, yet are often silent about the diplomats who prevented conflict."

Rodgers also lists a few of the President’s accomplishments:
– He stabilized the worst economy since the Great Depression
– His administration kept thousands of over-extended Americans from losing their homes by laboring mightily to forestall foreclosures.
– In spite of ferocious opposition, he passed long-overdue reforms of our health-care system.
– He signed into law a bod package of regulations to boost consumer protection and restrain Wall Street’s greed.
– He negotiated a historic nuclear-arms reduction treaty with Russia’s Dmitry Medvedev.

It is tough to beat a sitting President in an election. It seems as though it will be especially difficult due to the President’s record of leadership. Considering the difficulty of these times, along with the extremely polarized political climate, the President has certainly done well merely to keep the ship afloat. Don’t get me wrong, I think sometimes the wise course is to let the ship sink, but many casualties would result. Also, I find much in the policy of the administration with which to disagree. I am, after all a libertarian; but as a libertarian, I recognize that freedom cannot be legislated by the powers-that-be but must be taken by the populace at large.

Rodgers also praises the President’s navigation of the "Arab Spring." He appreciates how Obama "wisely and rapidly put together a broad NATO coalition to deal with the Libyan revolt," yet he sat on the sidelines in other uprisings. "Take it from someone who has reported from across the Middle East: Sitting out potential Arab civil wars isn’t abdication of leadership; it is wisdom."

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Jonathan Erdman

Writer. In the summers, I live and work in the incredible state of Alaska, in the bush community of McCarthy, as the Executive Director of the Wrangell Mountain Center. When not in McCarthy, you'll typically find me in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California, writing and working with local activists. My primary writing project right now is a novel set in remote bush Alaska, of the magical realism genre wherein an earnest and independent young woman finds a mysterious radio belonging to her grandmother, a device that has paranormal bandwidth and a disturbing ability to mess with one's mental stability.

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