I love Jon Stewart, but sometimes he is too soft on Obama. This past week he has been critical of the Affordable Care Act rollout, but he chides as if speaking with a fragile child rather than the leader of the free world. I understand that Stewart is on the president's team, but I respect Mr. Stewart as a journalist and expect him to bring truth, whatever the political fallout.
The ACA isn't the only topic on which Jon has failed to hold Obama accountable for inaction. While he has mentioned Obama not being aware of problems related to Obamacare and the NSA spying on close allies, he failed to list countless other times when Obama has been asleep at the wheel.
President Obama didn't know that there would be problems with Obamacare until the site went live.
He didn't know we were spying on Merkel until it was leaked to the press.
He didn't know about the IRS targeting political groups until he saw it himself on the news.
He didn't know about Fast and Furious until it came to public light.
So I ask: what exactly is Obama doing? Even I, the manager of a small nonprofit organization, understand the value of taking responsibility -- why can't our president? We all know he is an amazing campaigner, but I am beginning to feel that he is an especially ineffective manager.
Mr. Obama can get away with being an ineffective and mediocre president because people like Jon Stewart choose not to take him to task, simply because they like him personally and agree with his politics. I am tired of this. I myself believed that President Obama could possibly be a great president, but he is far from it at this point, partly due to the fact that he is given a pass by the media.
Democrats have also failed to acknowledge Obama's shortcomings, dismissing the Republican criticism of Obama's management style as too partisan, or even worse, as racism. But Obama's lack of management experience and his unwillingness to step up and take responsibility for failures have begun to define his presidency.
Obama's failings become yet more defined when you compare his actions to previous presidents who proved themselves by taking credit for victories and defeats.
When the Bay of Pigs failed spectacularly, President Kennedy took the blame for the failure, saying it was on him. As Hugh Sidey writes for Time, "Kennedy stood up to it, took the blame for the Bay of Pigs, rearranged his staff and a year later when confronted by the Cuban Missile Crisis steered a steady and successful course through that nuclear peril."
If he never accepts responsibility for his mistakes, can Mr. Obama learn lessons in the same way that Mr. Kennedy learned them?
When the Iran Contra scandal broke, Reagan was far from perfect, initially waffling and denying personal involvement -- most believe that at the time he had no knowledge of the situation. Even so, once the truth came out, he took the time to admit failure, he stood in front of the American people and accepted responsibility, saying that he is the one "who is ultimately accountable to the American people... No President should ever be protected from the truth".
Obama, on the other hand, continues to use "I didn't know, I found out with ya'll from the news" as a political strategy. I understand in today's highly partisan world it is more difficult to stand up and take responsibility, but I would respect President Obama a lot more if he did. It would also show that he is learning to become a better manager and leader in time, growing with each mistake.
At some point Obama needs to stop playing politics and call it as it is -- he needs to admit the mistakes that have been made and he needs to take full responsibility for those shortcomings. Whether he knew of the specifics of each situation or not, the administration's failings are his failings, and he needs to begin to understand that before it is too late.
He can choose to take responsibility and learn lessons for the good of the American people, or he can continue to blame others for the mistakes made on his watch. I hope he chooses the former, but I fear he will continue to walk the same road he has been walking thus far.
In the same way I hope that Mr. Stewart begins to talk honestly to the president and the people. A true friend is someone who can look you in the eye and say, "we have a problem we need to work on together". Jon Stewart, the influential journalist, needs to start speaking truth for the good of all of us.
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