THE BLOG
05/03/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Yes We Can -- But Ya Gotta Know How : New York's Take on Obama's Lack of Leadership

Have you ever been in a relationship where there was so much good you couldn't imagine ever leaving the person? Yet...it just wasn't working for you? That's how I feel about this President. And in typical neurotic New Yorker fashion, I'm simultaneously worried and angered.

Let's strip away the particulars. We can talk all day about the public option. We can debate the bailout debacle. We can scrutinize the specious rhetoric. But at the end of the day, we just need to know the person at the helm is in charge and that we're on course -- even if things aren't going quite as planned. As it stands, Obama is lost at sea without a compass. And it may be time to face the reality we've all dreaded. The guy just hasn't got the chops for the gig.

Obama's weakness stems from the fact he doesn't know how powerful the position of President of the United States is. He's never worked at anything where he had to kick some butt to get things done. Consequently, nobody has a sore butt -- but nothing gets done. Sure, he's got the communication skills, a la Ronald Reagan. He's got the charisma a la John Kennedy. Those are great attributes. But he hasn't got the other thing that a leader needs more than anything - conviction, vision, and the toughness to follow through. Great leaders throughout history had a belief so strong that even if it failed it was worth every ounce of one's effort to follow it through to its ultimate conclusion. They also had experience in areas that required making important decisions.

I remember growing up hearing how Eisenhower was considered a mediocre President yet, on discovering more about him, I found out that he actually put forth quite a bit of important policy. He had it. So did Washington. So did Polk. Wilson. Truman. Lincoln, of course. Roosevelt too. Senior New Yorkers experienced the no nonsense approach of Fiorello. Baby Boomers remember Koch when he was at his best. And yes, in spite of a barrage of criticism, Rudy Guiliani took charge and made a difference for the better. They were all strong and stubborn -- some may say too stubborn. Nevertheless, they got their agenda through. That works for most New Yorkers. We haven't got time for anything else but results and our best leaders shared the sentiment. But Barack? Nope. He's a 21st Century man. These days it's more about presentation and not much else. We're a vacuous society enamored of and governed by celebrity. And man, Obama's a master at it. Even when he talks in circles he looks so damn cool doing it! Every time he fails at something and then makes one of those eloquent speeches we're right back on board! It's almost if he thinks he can simply sit back and say, "It isn't my fault" when policy doesn't go through. But it is his fault. And he's got to own up to that. The buck has stopped and he's dropped it.

This may be the reason a political amateur such as Sarah Palin thinks she can be President. After all, Bush wasn't qualified -- he just had connections. And Obama wasn't qualified - he just had a good rap. So she must be thinking 'If all it takes is getting in the spotlight and keeping the momentum going, why not?' She may be right. Get used to it.

So what would some of the more successful Presidents have done that Obama has not? Glad you asked. Let's take health care for example -- something that would affect tens of thousands of New Yorkers.

Reagan would explain simply and clearly exactly what it would entail in very elementary language so that the people would understand it, and he'd make it sound attractive enough to get the people to support it. Kennedy would have made the argument to the people so strong that no one in Congress would dare oppose him. Johnson would call together everyone involved in a major vote and say: "Listen, this is what I want and this is what we're going to do. Oppose me and you'll be sorry." But Obama would never be that gruff or dictatorial. The results speak for themselves.

Bottom line: Obama may have been the better choice in the election but that doesn't mean he was a good one. And much like it is in relationships, it doesn't mean he's bad or insincere or duplicitous. It just isn't working out. And you know how we New Yorkers are. With so much going on at all times, we can't help thinking... there's got to be something better out there.