It is a travesty that on this Memorial Day there were American families suffering the loss of their loved ones who were veterans. Painful though it is, you can understand the loss of a loved one serving in a combat zone — unless the loss was due to the insidious combat rules of engagement.
But to have your veteran, one who has survived the rigors of combat, succumb to death due to the bureaucracy of the Veterans Administration — that is unconscionable. And don’t give me the Blame Bush Derangement Syndrome response. President Obama and Secretary Shinseki have had nearly six years to rectify the situation.
In the military, where General Shinseki grew up, when a commander takes over a new unit with problems he is expected to fix what is broken. If the new commander cannot, or does not, he or she is deemed a failure.
But not in the Obama administration. There is no retribution, no admission of shortcoming, no recollection of campaign promises made – only a lecture.
As John Kass writes in the Chicago Tribune, “After keeping his mouth shut on that growing Veterans Affairs scandal for weeks, President Barack Obama finally acted. Not with deeds. But with words. The scandal involves reports of secret admissions lists, falsified data and some 40 veterans dying while waiting for treatment. So Obama did what he does best. He talked.”
I remember how everyone was so enthralled with the junior Senator from Illinois, and when asked why, they said because he gives an inspiring speech.
But leadership isn’t not about speeches — with teleprompter – it’s about being able to lead, command, take charge of a situation, give guidance and intent, and instill confidence by making decisions, not talking.
A quick review of Obama’s voting record evidences his inability to take charge and make a decision: countless “present” votes. And please, don’t give me the “courage” of ending the war in Iraq started by — you guessed it — George Bush.
A leader would have made the decision based upon strategic vision, not acquiescence to a political base — abandoning Iraq looks brilliant now, right? We all remember the infamous “red line” in Syria. Talk always sounds tough, but taking action is the measure of a leader. And in the end, it was not Obama’s red line. It belonged to all of us.
Obama’s inability to lead has become more obvious, as Kass wrote, “He didn’t fire Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki. Firing Shinseki would suggest he was actually taking responsibility, rather than just talking about taking responsibility. So instead Obama did his thing with words. He’s a talker, this President Windsock from Chicago, first leaning this way, then that, considering everything, lecturing, talking, talking, talking.”