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No. of Recommendations: 15

This was just one, but perhaps the most catastrophic, failure of leadership that the President has displayed during this episode. Another is the simple number of appearances, statements and and press briefings he has made, as if he is trying to make up for his lack of real leadership by 'appearing' to be in charge. The result is that no singular statement has carried the gravity and strength of purpose that we need. He has approached this tragedy like it's an election campaign, trying to build a political consensus for war. What he doesn't understand is that the consensus is already there, and he needs to use it productively. If his advisor's don't understand their constituents, how the hell are they going to understand the enemy?

In addition, he is telling us only what we want to hear: that someone will pay, that we will use every weapon at our disposal, that the response will be overwhelming, that we will succeed. No one is telling us what we need to hear: that we cannot abandon our principles in the pursuit of the perpetrators, that we have to be prepared to lead in peace as well as war, that we will weigh every option and hold ourselves to the highest standards of justice in our response, that it is as important to find out why as it is to find out who. The President and his advisors are at least a half a step behind the public right now in understanding popular sentiment. That is not leadership. The administration is reinforcing popular sentiment in a way that denies our national principles and has created a tolerance for injustice. That is destructive and reprehensible leadership, and it is certainly NOT patriotism.

And the zero to one hundred syndrome is staggering. It exposes the narrow understanding that this administration has of reality. For the President the world is one of events, and all the matters is action. He has no perception of the world of ideas and therefore cannot comprehend the vast interconnectedness of events over time. He cannot understand his enemy. He does not understand his role. He can only vaguely understand the consequences of his own words. As a result his response is doomed to disappoint history.

Has anyone counted how many times he has uttered the phrase "make no mistake"? It seems to be a code word that the terrorists should listen to the next little bit of what he will say. Sadly, the mistakes have already been made.


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