Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Leadership must surpass the "art of the possible"

I have come to understand that members of Congress, as devotees of politics as "the art of the possible", are preoccupied with maneuvers for getting legislation passed and are grossly deficient as practitioners of politics as "the art of the public good"; i.e., identifying and meeting the needs of the nation. It may have been different in the earlier years of the republic but now it seems to be taken for granted that Congress must look to the executive branch for leadership.

Having realized this, I now see that a big part of Obama's shortcomings as President is that he shares the pragmatic legislator's cast of mind when, especially in a time of crisis, the role required in the Presidency is that of the visionary. If this comes from a simple misunderstanding of what is required of him then it is repairable but if it is rooted in his character then we are doomed to endure an administration of misplaced priorities and dubious accomplishments.

It may be a defect in our government, probably related to the rise of the two party system, that alternative leadership cannot be expected from inside the Congress.

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