Follow by Email

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Never Trust a 'Me-First'

To a greater or lesser degree. All of us possess the capability to assess an individual by the tenor of his or her manner of speaking. Another way to put it is that from the speaker’s selection of tone and words, you can get a fairly good handle on his true thoughts even if they are contrary to what he is saying. Sort of like the ‘Freudian Slip’ in reverse. You know what a ‘Freudian Slip’ is—an old boy who meant to ask wife if she were ready to go to bed, but instead said “Are you ready to go to boobs?” He said exactly what he was thinking, not what he planned to say. That’s a ‘Freudian Slip’. Much has been written recently about our president boasting of the death of bin Laden. Don’t misunderstand. While I do not believe he is the president our country needs, in all fairness, bin Laden’s death happened on his watch. He gave the word. He gets the credit as it should be. But, look at this from a different angle. In a memorandum from the CIA director, Leon Panetta, there was what the Wall Street Journal called an ‘escape clause’ for the responsibility of the raid on bin Laden’s compound. It stated “The timing, operational decision-making, and control are in Admiral McRaven’s hands.’ It went on to say naturally that all details would be passed before the president for his approval, but that one sentence designating responsibility also designates blame. If it had failed, Admiral McRaven took the hit. After the success of the mission, President Obama stated his own role in the plan that the admiral put together by Panetta’s own admission. “I directed Leon Panetta to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority—even as I continued our broader effort. Then after years of painstaking work by my intelligence community I was briefed. I met repeatedly with my national security team, and finally last week, I determined that I had enough intelligence to take action. Today, at my direction---“ That’s far enough. In those half-dozen clauses, he referred to himself nine times. This from a man who has compared himself to Lincoln. No comparison. After Lee’s surrender, Lincoln spoke to the citizenry from a window of the White House. Not once did he mention his achievements, but those of his officers and soldiers, the hope for peaceful reconstruction, and a call for black suffrage, a call, according to the Wall Street Journal, that doomed him, for among the audience that night stood John Wilkes Booth. Lincoln said nothing of his part. Great leaders, says Michael Mukasey of the WSJ, have on occasion placed themselves in great events, but usually it is to take responsibility for failures. Lincoln, he wrote, took responsibility for General McClellan’s timidity and sluggishness at Chesapeake Bay down to the James Peninsula in August 1862. Mukasey also pointed out that when Saddam Hussein was captured, President Bush stated the achievement was ‘a tribute to the men and women now serving in Iraq.” Bush attributed the success to “the superb work of intelligence analysts who found the dictator’s footprints in a vast country. The operation was carried out with skill and precision by a brave fighting force.” The only time Bush referred to himself was when he added “Today on behalf of the nation, I thank the members of our armed forces, and I congratulate them.” Our 34th president, Dwight Eisenhower once said “Humility must always be the portion of any man who receives acclaim earned in the blood of his followers and the sacrifices of his friends.” No wonder Eisenhower was ready to take the blame if the Normandy Invasion failed. When it succeeded, he gave all credit to his forces, and thanked them. He believed that “The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.” I say this in all charity, withour rancor or umbrage, but from what the president has said and done in the last four years, I cannot believe he even begins to fathom Eisenhower’s concept of leadership. Leaders, truly great leaders, do not have to pretend. I have yet to know a ‘Me First’ or and ‘I Person’ upon whom I would chance my future. Have you?

No comments: