Saturday, May 23, 2009

Just Because You Have a Title...

As some of you know, I am a member of Toastmasters International, an organization that promotes the development of public speaking and leadership skills through its member clubs. Through Toastmasters, I have learned what it takes to be a good leader.

And, unfortunately, Barack Obama has shown himself not to be a good leader.

Recently, Obama gave a speech the same day that former Vice President Dick Cheney gave a speech on international terrorism and our efforts to combat it. (Whether this was by design or by accident is unimportant.) Two different men and two different speeches showed a difference in leadership.

We'll start with Cheney because, well, it's my blog. I heard bits of his speech and what struck me was how direct and plain-speaking he was. Much like the man he served as Vice-President, Cheney doesn't rely on lofty rhetoric to make a point. He says what he wants to say and sticks to the facts. Some think Cheney's approach is blunt, and it is, but sometimes you just need to be blunt.

Now, let's switch to Obama. I heard bits of his speech and he was a mirror image to Cheney. His rhetoric may have been loftier, but the risk with doing that is that you may not say anything with any rhetorical heft. And in Obama's case, he didn't say very much in spite of saying a lot of words. There are times when you need to inspire people, and times when you need to lay it on the line. When it comes to international terrorism, the latter is almost always necessary.

Much like a jeweler's cloth, Cheney's speech exposed the flaws in Obama's approach to fighting international terrorism. Soaring rhetoric won't stop a terrorist who is intent on killing Americans; all it does is take our minds off the terrorist, giving him an opening to complete his task. President Obama would be best served to learn that just because you have a title of a leader, it doesn't make you a leader by default. You actually have to show your leadership sometimes.

The clock is running, Mr. President. Time to be a leader.

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