How to be a leader, how not be a leader


And so it was that the wheat was separated from the chaff when America’s leading politicians, President Barack Obama and the leading Republican candidate Sarah Palin gave their thoughts to the nation about the attempted murder of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and those killed and maimed by the gunman Jared Loughner.

Given the media  back lash at the  toxic rhetoric from America's Right, including  Sarah Palin’s 'gun sight' targeting of Democrats that included Giffords, that was seen by many to  incite violence, Palin felt compelled to answer her critics and put her side about the tragedy on national TV.

But to many people’s amazement the former Governor used the address to talk about herself as much as she did the nations hurt. At one point she used the term ‘Blood libel’ against her accusers. This was seen as particularly distasteful given that it is a well known term used against those who blame Jewish communities for the death of Jesus Christ. Congresswoman Giffords is Jewish.

A few days later President Obama travelled to Tucson to give a memorial speech to those who lost their lives and those still fighting for theirs. The contrast in the two leading politicians could not be greater.

For thirty-minutes Obama never once spoke about himself, but rather the specialness of those who the gunman had killed or injured; from the couple who had been together for 50 years, to nine year old girl, who in her short life had been a high achiever.

But in an extraordinary tribute he also thanked those individuals who wrestled the gun-man to the ground before he reloaded. He spoke as a true leader, heart-felt and sincere, and in the process brought America and humanity together.

Over the last few months a powerful political machine has attempted to portray President Obama as the nation’s worst nightmare because of his social reform agenda. But in Tucson Arizona, Obama had a platform that could not be manipulated by his detractors. Thus Americans were reminded why they elected the first African-American President. Because he is special.

Simon Woolley

Picture: President Barack Obama greets Mavy Stoddard and members of the Stoddard family following a memorial service at the University of Arizona’s McKale Memorial Center in Tucson, Ariz., Jan. 12, 2011.

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Per this comment: "He spoke

Per this comment:

"He spoke as a true leader, heart-felt and sincere, and in the process brought America and humanity together."

That may be so, but he did attempt to turn a single tragic incident into that of a wider political scandal, such action being irresponsible as it passes the blame to those that do not actually deserve it and undermines the important lesson to be learned in this tragedy, the lesson being that the United States needs to form a greater sense of social awareness when it comes to mental health issues, the form of social dysfunction being the most prevalent in this case.

Also, Obama did attempt to clamp down on free speech, perhaps with just reason, however it is a bit hypocritical when the US is supposed to be the "land of freedom of speech", it being very important to separate the rhetoric of speech from the physical consequences of action.

"Because he is special". This is quite simply one of the wettest phrases I have ever heard. Obama got paid tonnes of cash simply for endorsing a phone. Is that special?

per this comment

Anon, I'm afraid I'm guilty of giving Obama, the 'special' one status, and yes it does sound a little wet.

Clearly, he will let many of us down on a whole range of issues. When I watched those Wikileak videos of American soldiers killing Iraq's almost for fun, I was saddened that Obama was silent on the issue.

I guess because most politicians out there today seem so lame in comparison to Obama, particularly Palin, he does seem rather special. I suppose too I'm also reacting to the disproportionate criticism that no other President in the last 50 years has had to endure. That said I'll try and tone down the gushiness next time around.