Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Walk the Walk

Nobel Prize

There is no doubt that President Obama is adept at talking the talk. His rhetorical flourishes were a key component of his winning the Presidency. His talk of change and of hope inspired many who were not necessarily enamored of the policies he advocated, but were willing to give him a chance to implement the future of which he spoke. The problem is that implementation demands walking the walk not just talking the talk.

You would not know that real success in implementation is required of leaders if you examined the pretense upon which the Nobel Prize committee awarded their high honor to President Obama. What they cited was his rhetoric, not his accomplishments. And in so doing, they both embarrassed the President and depreciated their own prestigious award. Walking the walk is demanded not only of leaders, but of those whose obligation is to maintain the integrity of the true purpose of their cause.


President Obama seemed to be walking the walk of one of his campaign themes by issuing an executive order that demanded Federal agencies reduce their carbon footprint substantially by the end of the next decade. But at the very same time he was issuing that order, he personally flew two 747 jet planes to Copenhagen to participate in the choosing of the 2016 Olympic site, one aircraft for him and the other for the First Lady. So in reality the executive order talked the talk while he was personally unwilling to walk the walk.


There has been a lot of talk by the Obama Administration about their transperancy. They have proclaimed their willingness to allow the public clear insight into the decision-making processes. That is, they are willing to talk about transperancy, but the practice of permitting transperancy is more problematic. The recent example of failing to walk the walk is the criticism leveled by White House spokesmen at our military commander in Afganistan when he actually described in detail the problems facing us in that war and the reasoning behind his recommendations. That speech did not fit the President's political and tactical timing and there was an immediate call for General McChrystal to stay inside the chain of command with his candid remarks. As reasonable as that suggestion is, it does not suggest transperancy. Governing is hard, and transperancy is much more difficult to practice than to talk about in a political campaign.


During his campaign for the Presidency, Mr. Obama promised increased integrity and targeted Washington lobbyists as the source of many of problems in the Nation's Capitol. It was a popular theme because lobbying has long been characterized in unsavory terms even though it is the embodiment of one of the most important parts of the Bill of Rights -- the right to petition the government for redress of grievances. Nevertheless, the Obama Administration actually has a person whose job it is to harass lobbyists. Now that would appear to be walking the walk on a campaign promise except that it is undermining his promise of integrity in government.

In recent times the lobby profession has been cleaning up its act. One the the main ways of doing this was to require lobbyists to register and reveal in those registrations what they are lobbying for and about. And the presumption had grown to go ahead and register even when you didn't meet the real requirements for registration as a way of assuring disclosure. As a result of the Obama Administration actions against lobbyists, many of those who previously registered are now deregistering because they do not really meet the requirements. So what the Obama Administration really has accomplished is less disclosure and less openness. That kind of outcome hardly is a expansion of government integrity. Talking the talk is easier than walking the walk.

No comments:

Post a Comment