Don’t Go Jimmy Carter

President Jimmy Carter was certainly one of the best intentioned Presidents but as a leader and commander in chief, he was a bust. Carter tried to fix everything and ended up fixing almost nothing while watching the economy go sour. It is very important that President Obama find a way to step away from the whirlwind he has found himself in since his inauguration. The critical issues he inherited as well as the noble goals he has set for his Administration require constant involvement but do not require constant fixing.

President Obama has a competent staff and team of advisors who are quite capable of “fixing” the issue of the day. Be it Iraq or Afghanistan, or the banks or GM. With so many issues with short time lines, President Obama and his team could easily get thinking this is real life and the President’s job is to go from fire to fire and put them out. The real job of President is to see that there are others who mostly prevent fires but are skilled and ready to put them out if they ignite.

A young and vigorous Barack Obama may be tempted to seek the spot light or accept his staff’s recommendation that he do this or that. He needs, however, the insight to ask Secretary of State Clinton or Secretary of Defense Gates to speak about Iran or Iraq or Afghanistan. He needs Secretary Sebelius to speak about health care and others to pick up the baton over GM, immigration, energy, and clean air. His gift should be the behind the scenes dialog with these officials to ensure there is a longer term vision, sensible strategies to achieve the vision, and specific measurable tactics to proceed. Obama needs to see how all these fit together and that they are consistent.

The 24/7 news cycles, however, prefer a strong President who hogs the limelight. They prefer sensational stories and the opportunity to show the President is wrong. This will sell more newspapers and achieve higher audience ratings. The principle role of the President is leadership and not problem solving. President Obama, don’t go Jimmy Carter.

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