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Leadership: What Difference At This Point Does It Make?

Melanie Sturm | @ThinkAgainUSA Read Comments - 9
Publish Date: 
Thu, 06/19/2014

 

If character is doing the right thing when nobody’s looking, WWII General Dwight Eisenhower radiated it on D-Day’s eve, writing ”any blame … is mine alone” in never-delivered remarks known as “In Case of Failure.”

 

In making one of history’s toughest and most consequential decisions -- unlike those chronicled in Hillary Clinton’s new memoir “Hard Choices” -- Eisenhower prepared for the worst as 150,000 men readied for a veritable suicide mission 70 years ago this month.

 

Willing to shoulder failure’s blame, even without knowing its reason, Eisenhower publicly attributed the anticipated victory to liberty’s cause and the Allied troops’ “courage, devotion to duty, and skill in battle.”

 

Trusting him to put the national interest before his own, Americans liked Ike, twice electing him president, assuring America’s reliability as a guarantor of peace, prosperity, stability and freedom.

 

Unfortunately, as a parade of disturbing scandals and glaring incompetence engulf Washington and our national psyche, one thing is certain – Eisenhower’s style of servant-leadership is in short supply today. 

 

More prevalent are self-serving leaders who routinely do the wrong (yet politically advantageous) thing – even in the Rose Garden when everybody’s looking -- while refusing to Think Again about their misdeeds, never mind assume responsibility or apologize.

 

As if in the Soviet Union where dissidents joked, “The future is known; it’s the past that’s always changing,” today’s national leaders promise the unattainable, spin the news cycle with false narratives, stonewall investigations, smear adversaries, and label self-inflicted controversies “phony scandals.” Absent honest disagreement or accountability, the “truth” becomes any story that sticks as they coast on benevolent intentions, above the devastation.

 

Through successive controversies – Fast and Furious, Benghazi, IRS, NSA, Syria’s red-line, Obamacare, and the Veterans Administration -- this responsibility-evading strategy has worked, thanks to a mythologizing media who “censor or block stories that don’t fall in line with the message they want sent,” as former CBS News reporter Sharyl Attkisson described.

 

Now comes the Bergdahl Swap in which the Obama Administration – perennially unwilling to negotiate with Republicans they’ve called “hostage-takers” – struck a deal with hostage-taking terrorists to trade five Taliban commanders for U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl.  

 

Presidential author Bob Woodward called the decision “nefarious and stupid” because it ignored military and intelligence recommendations and flouted federal law requiring congressional notification. Like Benghazi, administration Svengalis crafted and “bull horned” fraudulent talking points, this time to cast a likely deserter as a war hero who “served with honor and distinction.”

 

But unlike Benghazi, the story didn’t stick and a bi-partisan uprising ensued. Without a YouTube hate-video to blame for the spontaneous demonstration, President Obama dismissed it as “a controversy whipped up in Washington” for which he’ll “make no apologies.”

 

Clinton also dislikes questions and apologies. Asked on her book tour if she’ll turn over her Benghazi-related notes to the congressional committee charged with investigating the murders of four Americans at the U.S. Consulate, Clinton instead suggested they read her memoir – called “a newsless snore” by Politico’s Mike Allen.

 

With genocidal insurgents overtaking Iraq and beyond, Clinton may regret her flippant response to a question about the swap. “These five guys are not a threat to the United States,” she asserted, as if 9/11 wasn’t hatched in the very petri dish to which the jihadists are returning.

 

With such out-of-touch and unaccountable leadership, it’s no surprise nearly two-thirds of Americans say we’re headed in the wrong direction, a new Bloomberg poll revealed. 

 

But as Clinton might ask, what difference at this point does it make?

 

A decisive one, as the trouncing of Eric Cantor – the first Majority Leader ever to lose a primary – testifies. Fellow special-interest crony, Senator Thad Cochran, will likely be next.

 

Cantor got caught in a perfect storm of anti-Washington fever, economic unease and resentment over serial controversies including the refugee crisis on our southern border caused by derelict enforcement of immigration laws. Even a 25-to-1-money advantage couldn’t overcome the perception that Cantor favors Wall Street and K-Street over his Main Street constituents.

 

That his campaign donors support immigration policies that are magnets for low-income workers suggests Cantor doesn’t care about depressing the wages and job prospects of Americans already devastated by economic stagnation. Politicians who discuss immigration in terms of how we can assist those who break our laws are largely responsible for our illegal immigrant problem.  

 

The reality is democracy doesn’t work without the right leadership, which accounts for other crises menacing Americans -- dying vets, released terrorists, refugee children, IRS harassment, NSA snooping, health care chaos, and murdered U.S. diplomats and border guards.

 

Amid so much failure, Americans must deny politicians amnesty for their incompetence, selfishness, dishonesty, and abuse of power. 

 

Think Again -- To preserve liberty for successive generations, don’t we need leaders who are prepared to declare “any blame is mine alone?”

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Although I live nowhere near

Although I live nowhere near Aspen and normally don't read your column, I wanted to thank you for this piece.

The joke about Nixon was that he accepted the responsibility but not the blame. The difference was that "those who are to blame lose their jobs; those who are responsible do not".

It seems to me that our republic can't stand very much more "look, squirrel!" leadership, nor the style of people like Cantor. I recognize that politicians are, shall we say, not the best human beings; nontheless, I expect some honor amongst them.

Your timely column could be instructionable for parents with regard to their children. If we are to survive, we must teach them to uphold actions that add to societal strengths. After all, freedom really isn't the norm in human history.

I don't want us to be a flash in the historical pan.

Terrific piece in the Aspen

Terrific piece in the Aspen Times and how ironic that it was juxtaposed with a story celebrating Hilary's appearance at the Aspen Institute (left-wing) Ideas Fest. It'll be quite revolting to witness Aspenites lapping up the malarkey that both she and Al Gore will dish out during that love-in.

I too like Ike and think he was a highly successful president. I suspect that his party affiliation and disdain for the light-weight and corrupt JFK has kept him from becoming more of a favorite among the academic elites - 90% of whom vote democrat.

Comparing Ike to Obama is a study in stark contrasts. One was a true American born in the heartland who served his country with little thought of personal rewards (only after leaving the Whitehouse did he write a memoir making him financially comfortable for the first time). The other is a charlatan who never held a job but has become very wealthy while tearing down a great nation, violating the constitution, making decisions based on their political value and lapping up unconditional Main Stream Media love.

Ike, by the way, was a better golfer.

I look forward to your next piece.

I would stop denigrating

I would stop denigrating Obama if for once, just once, the mainstream media told the truth.

Most of the people who elected this President are called low-information voters. They are a generation raised with a television as a baby sitter and can't appreciate the signifigance of the Press leading their thoughts. Universities now seem to turn out nothing but liberal thinkers because they hire nothing but liberal professors. The professors are a perfect example of " those who can't do, teach.

Melanie, Thanks for your

Melanie, Thanks for your usual well thought out column.

I liked Ike and the generation that elected him twice was a culture of decent hard working people but......something was wrong. They reared the next generation who were the rebels of the 60s and the turning left of a significant segment of the populace. The "Ike" generation worked hard and lived respectfully but somehow their families weren't engendered with absolutes and with a humble sense of accountability to Him with whom we have to do.

A sense of entitlement grew among us that has led to the fix we are in today. I suspect that the "Ike" era fathers were driven to recover from war, build their business and make life easier for the family than it had been during their growing up. Sitting at the kitchen table with the wife and children, discussing the essentials of life drifted out of our culture. Rebuilding this key building block is a long process.

When the Americans were

When the Americans were pushing towards Berlin during WWII a deal was made between Stalin and Roosevelt that the Americans would stop at the Rhine river, allowing Russian forces to take Berlin. Eisenhower had to carry out that order to the consternation of people like Gen. Patton. The decision was purely a political one by Roosevelt in exchange for Stalin accepting the formation of the United Nations. And that was because of Eleanor Roosevelt, who was behind the UN effort, threatening to go public with Roosevelt's two timing escapades. Eisenhower was asked why he stopped at the Rhine many times after the war and he never once blamed anyone except himself.

And what of Bush's (and Dick

And what of Bush's (and Dick Cheney's) failures in Iraq? That nation is now a mess and the Current administration has to try and fix it, and probably spill more American blood? Oh GW Bush is a Republican...that's right...I get it now Melanie.

The culprit is the press.

The culprit is the press. They are happy to report minor missteps of Repubs but overlook serious criminal behavior by Dem administrations. See the mainstream press' totally ignoring the news that the IRS "accidentally" lost the critical 2 years of Lois Lerner and other implicated IRS officials' emails. Really. If a Repub admin had done this, along with the other stonewalling about use of IRS for political purposes, articles of impeachment would already be circulating around the House. Remember, the first article of impeachment against Nixon was abuse of the IRS for political purposes. The public doesn't seem to want to know the truth most of the time and the press certainly doesn't deliver it.

Once again, a fine piece.

Once again, a fine piece. You have tied together so elegantly the latest string of scandals generated by this administration, and the outrageous void of leadership and responsibility they reflect. I find it all so disheartening, that I have trouble reading through the details of each debacle.

But even more discouraging is the inability of the GOP to capitalize on this bonfire of disaster. Your assessment of the Cantor defeat seems spot on to me. And as you suggest, he won't be the last to suffer this kind of referendum on leadership.

I like to think there is more going on behind the scenes instead of a continued campaign to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Almost anything should be better than this administration and leadership but so far something seems to be. Alas.

Powerful column today

Powerful column today Melanie.. Thank you for writing it.. I hope the attacks aren't too vociferous or brutal, but there are people like me who adore knowing you're on our side.. Besides, what higher praise could you ever receive than condemnation by the leftist redundancy known as the democratic party. They are the perfect inverse barometer.

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