Editorial: Commander in question
Obama has chance to prove critics of his leadership wrong
Published: Friday, November 16, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 15:02
There is a serious misconception among many Americans about the power our president actually wields. For better or for worse, the president is praised for many of America’s successes and blamed for the country’s failures. In President Obama’s case, many Americans feel that he has failed to bring the economy back to an acceptable level of prosperity through his first four years. A frightening number of Americans feel that Obama’s vision of the country is one where the unemployed are able to live comfortably off of entitlements funded by working citizens. They should be far more afraid of the president’s use of drones in the Middle East, but that is beside the point.
The president does not have the ability to raise or lower taxes on his own, to choose how social programs are funded on his own or to even push through his own health care bill on his own. Bills have to go through the legislative and judicial branches in addition to the executive branch, to repeat a lesson we all should have learned in fifth grade.
What a president is, more than anything, is a leader. That is why the country’s success and failures are often put on his shoulders. He might not be able to affect policy change on his own, but he is responsible for leading the national government in addressing the country’s issues.
Mitt Romney hammered Obama for his inability to lead in Washington throughout this past election season. His criticisms, while exaggerated, were not unfounded. While Republicans in the House of Representatives were often unwilling to work with Obama during his first term, it is still his job to lead these politicians in reaching resolutions.
Over these next few weeks, Obama will have a chance to prove that he is a capable leader. He has many lawmakers in Washington, D.C. questioning his administration’s handling of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. A committee of senators is currently investigating the attack and the government’s handling of the incident in which four Americans, including a U.S. ambassador, were killed. As the investigation moves forward, Obama would be wise to be straightforward about his handling of the attack and take responsibility for any mistakes made.
And as the “fiscal cliff” looms, it is Obama’s job to unite Democrats and Republicans in reaching a deal on taxes and spending cuts. If a deal is not reached by Dec. 31, the United States faces the likely possibility of a second recession. Perhaps lawmakers will get in the holiday spirit and put aside their differences to put together a plan. Whatever the case, the next month and a half is not a time for partisan division. It is up to Obama to lead legislators from different sides of the aisle to a common ground.