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Memo to Obama: Don’t Get Mad, Get Going

I used to work with a man who was notoriously calm and self-contained. His demeanor was so low-key that I perfected an impersonation of him asking for the sale at a typical new business pitch, just to entertain the staff. I’d stare straight ahead, let all trace of expression leave my face, and utter in a flat, robotic monotone, “We’re passionate about what we do.” It always got a laugh.

It also reminds me of Mr. Obama’s latest PR problem – you know, the “President Spock” syndrome. In the wake of the Gulf Oil accident, the TV talking heads are calling for him to spill — his guts, that is. They’re in a frenzy for the President to spew more emotion, more passion, and a real connection to the crisis.

But, that’s not the real Barack Obama, at least in my view. And, while it’s true that Mr. Obama lacks the cowboy swagger of George Bush or the quick temper of Bill Clinton, anger isn’t the issue. The recent interview with the “Today” Show’s Matt Lauer showed the futility of reacting to the criticism, and of trying to be what you’re not. It’s a classic “damned if you do/damned if you don’t” situation. The President’s measured response to Lauer’s question about whether he should “kick some ass” seemed inauthentic and unsatisfying.

At this point, most Americans are too jaded and disillusioned to find much solace in threats, tantrums, and blame. We’ve had it with apologies and excuses also. It’s time for this most oratorical of leaders to stop talking and display three things: action, authority, and decisiveness. These attributes, I believe, fit him better than anger or frustration. The public lost confidence in BP’s ability to contain the situation weeks ago, and the White House has been tarred with the same brush of ineptitude and indecision. It needs to step in decisively and take charge of the Gulf oil fix before meting out penalties and punishments. Risky? Of course, but not nearly so risky as the current course.

The President needs to stop trying to channel Clint Eastwood and take control of the containment and cleanup process. It’s not about getting mad, it’s about getting going. That would make my day.

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Comments

  1. Evan B.

    Obama doesn’t want to be the “angry black man” since his visceral response to the Henry Gates arrest wasn’t well received. It’s just proof we haen’t arrived as a post-racial society, see CNN piece http://bit.ly/avhciH

  2. Dorothy Crenshaw

    Yes, there may be a double standard here. But, the Gates situation was a bit more open to interpretation than, say, the oil spill. I think the issue is really decisiveness, not emotion. The President is simply a cool, analytical personality, which can be construed as indecision. My point is, you can only push the limits of your personality and comfort zone so much before it fails. Also, I think we as a society have become so mistrustful of our institutions, business, and politicians that we need to see less talk, more action.

  3. Akimseu@aol.com

    You’re a Really Experienced Blogger, Either have got quality understanding of what your talking about or you did some fantastic research. Thanks for this wonderful posting.

  4. Sermons

    It took the Mexican government 10 months to cap the leaking Ixtoc I. 3 months into the Deepwater Horizon and its beginning to look as bleak.

  5. Eveline Banerjee

    I am a frequent reader of your blog posts. I liked the recent one and other posts on your blog so much that I have subscribed to the blog’s RSS feed in Thunderbird. Even thinking of stealing some ideas and put them to work. Keep all the good work going by posting more informative posts. Thank you. Time well spent on this post.

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