Published for Politico’s Arena, June 2nd, 2010:
I think people demanding he speak more forcefully are giving him the wrong advice – he has been scolding, mocking, condescending, and none of that is helping plug the damn hole. It’s driving people apart and behind their own defenses. Action, such as bringing people together and being a leader that says, “Look, let’s work together and get this fixed…and let’s make sure the people whose economic livelihoods are in serious, maybe long-term danger, have a way to make a living…and let’s do what we need to do to protect this important ecosystem. And when that’s done, then we can fight it out – but right now, teamwork is our focus.”
Rhetoric can’t solve an engineering problem – just like it can’t convince people the stimulus package created jobs or the health care reform bill is really good for America (look at the poll numbers on those issues). Leadership is about decisiveness, tone-setting and encouraging people to follow – and no amount of language tweaking is going to change things.