Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Pathetic Lack of Leadership

It might come as a surprise to some of my readers that I'm a little bit partisan. It might also come as a surprise that as a former army officer, I'm very observant regarding matters of leadership.

And we're seeing none from the Congressional "leadership".

Nancy Pelosi is the top dog in the House, and Harry Reid is the majority leader of the Senate. Based on their recent actions and words, neither of them would know leadership if it jumped out of a bag and bit them on the butt.

Instapundit reports:
Reader Greg Shea writes:
Here's what I don't understand:

When Republicans have control of Congress, it is Republicans' fault for not passing legislation to stave off economic trouble.

When Democrats have control of Congress, it is Republicans' fault for not passing the bailout. Must be nice...

Harry and Nancy have been in charge of their respective houses of the Congress for almost 2 years now. They are in charge. They run the show. Yet they act like they're still the leaders of the "loyal opposition" rather than of the parties in charge. Folks in the minority can (and sometimes should) nip at the ankles of the majority, if for no other reason than to keep them honest. When you're in charge, though, you try to herd all those cats in the direction you want them to go.

And you're not going to get them to go where you want to by blaming your own failures on them, by insulting them, and by being nasty to them. That's not leadership.

Of course, I don't really expect Nancy and Harry to demonstrate true leadership. No, they're partisan hacks, not real leaders. They can't even get their own people to follow them--in this "bailout", for example. Nancy blames the entire problem, and the lack of a solution, on Republicans, and instead of leading, then expects Republicans to give her political cover for this unpopular bailout. She said she didn't want to pass this without significant Republican support, preferably 100 votes. At least the Dems in the House in the early 90's had the strength of their convictions and voted to pass the federal budget without a single Republican vote. When you're in the majority, you can do that. But not Nancy:

NANCY'S DISASTER: "The fact is, 95 Democrats - 40 percent of the party's House membership - voted against the bill. Pelosi - who allegedly controls the chamber - couldn't even deliver her own members. How humiliating is that?" Many of those Democrats who voted against, of course, did so with Pelosi's blessing.

Nancy and Harry are playing political games. Yes, they're politicians, and perhaps the House Republicans are playing political games, too, but Harry and Nancy are (supposed to be) the leaders in the Congress. And are they acting like this is a crisis? No, they're acting like this is a game to win. Oh, and they're taking two days off for a religious holiday. If this were a real emergency, perhaps they'd have found a way to continue working for two days without those of the Jewish faith. If you're telling me we're on the verge of the next Great Depression, everyone can't take two days off.

Who has shown some leadership? The President. Not only has he called key people from both houses of Congress, and appropriate federal agencies (e.g. Treasury) to the White House for talks, but you haven't heard one partisan comment from him on this matter. McCain may have been playing politics by "suspending his campaign" so that he can do what he's paid to do in the Senate and work on this issue, but it was still the right thing to do. Obama did nothing, waiting for others to tell him what he should do.

I'm seeing no leadership at all from anyone in the Democratic Party. Not one drop of it.

You Democrats, you should demand better of your people. I know that we as a country certainly deserve better.

And I'm apparently not the only one to think so:

Let me go on the record today with an opinion I've held for a while, but hadn't yet expressed publicly: Nancy Pelosi needs to go as Speaker of the House...

However, the speech was incredibly inappropriate. At a moment when the Speaker should have been rallying the entire membership of the House to pull together as Americans and solve the crisis before them, Pelosi chose instead to use her pulpit to lay blame and point fingers...

Yesterday was a time for statesmanship and gravitas, qualities that are critical in the individual who is only a few degrees away from the presidency, and who is vested with representing the entire body of the House of Representatives. In our two party system, there is no way to leave partisan politics out of the Speaker's role, but Pelosi acts more like a House majority or minority leader, or a whip - or even like the DNC Chair - than she does like the great Speakers of yore, like Sam Rayburn and Tip O'Neill...

It demeans the role of Speaker for Pelosi to use her position to take every possible opportunity to aggressively bash the GOP, no matter how inappropriate the setting or context. And I say this as a voter who likely agrees with Pelosi on specific policy issues 95% of the time.

Hear hear.

Update, 10/1/08: But wait, there's more:


Pelosi deserves no praise for her leadership on Monday. Even stipulating that we are in the closing weeks of one of the most important political campaigns in a generation, her inability to rise above the tendency to score political points was inexcusable. Monday's vote was a moment to set aside those instincts and talk about the package as an example of Washington's ability to work cooperatively in a time of crisis.

Instead, Pelosi accused Bush of economic policies that create "budgetary recklessness" and "an anything-goes mentality." And she closed with a partisan call to arms.

(Via Extreme Mortman). Plus this conclusion: "For the next president and the next
Congress, whatever its makeup, Monday's performance should be looked at as an
example of what it was, a performance designed to undermine the public's confidence in its elected leadership." Strikingly, these criticisms come from The Washington Post, not some right-leaning publication.

That last line is telling.


Ronnie said...

I personally would rather the bill come out right rather than rushed. I'm still not even sure any bill should be passed since the people recommending a bailout bill are even saying they don't know if this will work. I don't think our country should be willing to use so much tax payer money without making every point clear on how much we are getting back, in how much time, and if there is any better way to solve the major problems of a nationwide loan crisis. I think the people voting against the bailout are the true leaders, for standing up for what they believe in and not blindly handing out money. Congressmen shouldn't be sheep and I'm proud to see them acting differently.

Darren said...

To be honest, Ronnie, I don't really understand enough of this to know if the bailout is the right thing to do or not. I think Congress caused this mess, and I'm not sure I want them solving it. People who know a lot more than I do, though, are saying it's necessary to prevent calamity, but they drew a line in the sand last Friday and we crossed it. They drew another one on Sunday evening and we crossed it. They drew one Monday morning and we crossed it. Now it's Tuesday night and they're not even coming back to work until Thursday.

I'm inclined to think this isn't the emergency they claim it is.

But this wasn't a post about the pros and cons of the bailout. This is a post about the lack of any leadership at all from any Democrat in a position of responsibility, including Senator Obama.

Ronnie said...

Leadership doesn't have to mean following your party or forcing everyone to believe you, sometimes leadership is knowing when to look at all the options, and going against what is expected of you.

allen (in Michigan) said...

There does seem a preference on the part of Democrats to govern via crisis.

There's the crisis of homelessness, global warming, polluted air, polluted water, dangerous toys, hunger, access to medical care (finessed by referring to it as a lack of medical insurance), resource depletion, racism, sexism and what all else I've long since forgotten.

From what I understand the steel for the House Republican's spines came from the deluge of angry e-mail that brought the House's e-mail server to its knees. That's what derailed the Dems emergency socialization of the debt system.

Darren said...

As we'd say at my Alma Mater, Ron. RTP. (Read the problem). RTFP.

Nancy and Harry haven't shown an ounce of leadership. THAT is what this post is about.

Ellen K said...

In theory, it would have been better to have the bill sent back to committee and rewritten. But what happens then is that other players come into play and they get earmarks and concessions and before you know it, a three page bill becomes 101 pages with billions of dollars in pork. Gee, I think that's already happened. It's gone from $700B to $840B. Frankly, we can't afford those and I shudder to think what the next generation of this bill will cost.

As for the Speaker, she's a joke. She was a figurehead from the start, simply put in place to appease critics that tagged the Dem elite as the "boys' club." She's been like a deer in the headlights, doing nothing, making no headway on critical funding or bills, wringing her hands at even the faint suggestion that the majority party take some actions. Everyone's been so dazzled by the two year candidacy of Obama that they flat forgot how to do their jobs. Fire them.