SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA, October 10, 2013—President Barack Obama claims to be an academic scholar and a student of history. As his presidency remains engulfed in fights over the debt ceiling, a government shutdown, and foreign policy pressures, he could learn a lot from Roman Emperor Julius Caesar.
Obama is the leader of the free world with access to drones of several types. His predator drones can kill any terrorist worldwide. His surveillance drones can spy on anybody, anywhere. His media drones parrot everything he says while worshipping his very essence.
Yet even the most powerful man on earth today can learn from some guy who ruled a nation 2,000 years earlier. Caesar is a cautionary tale of what is dragging Obama down.
So with Obama determined to implement “change,” there are ways he needs to change immediately.
1.) Arrogance is unbecoming. Americans are a God-fearing people, and a major part of that involves humility. Nobody is that special. Nobody is indispensable. History is littered with individuals since Caesar who confused power and popularity with moral authority. Pride goeth before a fall.
2.) Do the job. Getting hired is the beginning. Never confuse being given the keys to the corner office with earning the right to stay there. A winning smile is no substitute for actual quality work. Substance and results matter. Failing upward is still failing. No government can be trusted to run something as complicated as a healthcare system if they cannot even find a decent IT professional to run the healthcare website. Three years is more than enough time to prepare for implementing a product rollout, and “glitches” and “snafus” are euphemisms for incompetence.
3.) Take personal responsibility. Stop blaming everybody else. Obama inherited a mess. Obama has had five years and he still blames everyone else for various failures. He also inherited gasoline prices below $2 per gallon and a triple-A credit rating. Skyrocketing gasoline prices and the credit downgrade happened on his watch, yet he continues making excuses. Excuses only satisfy the person giving them. The buck stopped with Harry Truman. With the Obama administration, it stops nowhere.
4.) Act like an adult. Life is not a school playground, and “rankout” contests should end around age 18. Mocking others is a form of bullying, and nobody likes bullies. The individual you demean could be the person you need when times are tough. Referring to legitimate opponents as Nazis, racists, hostage takers, terrorists and other epithets only hardens opposition. It renders the utterer of those polarizing words unserious, and impossible to work with even when common ground exists.
5.) Never confuse praise from sycophants with actual success. Nobel Prizes and Academy Awards are popularity contests. Awards from loyalists are often based on anything but merit. Partying with Hollywood celebrities in the Oval Office or the sidelines is not the same as helping ordinary people who are hurting.
6.) Tell the truth. Level with people. Telling them you will stay on the job and then leaving for another job right away is an act of betrayal. Once integrity is sacrificed, there is no going back. Avoid corruption scandals. Some critics will try to scandalize everything, but that does not mean all scandals are “phony.” Where there is smoke, there is fire. Reputations are usually deserved.
7.) Man up. Develop a thicker skin. Stop demonizing people who disagree with you. Destructive critics should be marginalized. Constructive critics should be heeded. Obama claims to understand football. Politics, like football, is a team sport. Accepting blame is even more admirable than sharing credit. Only a narcissist would do the reverse. Every leader faces opposition. Successful leaders spend time working with the opposition rather than constantly complaining about their existence.
8.) Respect winning traditions. The Founding Fathers built a Constitutional Republic, not a European social democracy. Core Obama supporters want to “fundamentally transform” America but most people just want basic problems fixed. Green energy fantasies mean nothing to those unable to afford gasoline for their cars or food for the kitchen table. “Investing in education” means nothing to those drowning in debt.
9.) Stop talking and listen. Words lose meaning over time without substantive action. All the sales, marketing and advertising in the world cannot save a defective product. Pep rallies and locker room speeches eventually get tuned out. If the dog hates the dog food, look inward and improve the product. If the product cannot be improved, scrap it and cut losses.
10.) You are not the smartest man in the room. Politician knows less about medicine than physicians. They know less about running small businesses than actual small business owners. The CPA does not give the clergyperson religious counseling and the clergyperson does not dispense tax advice. Deeply held ingrained ideological beliefs learned in some classroom are not a replacement for actual knowledge and expertise acquired through real world work experience. Those who want everyone else to change need to look in the mirror.
Lord Acton remarked that “absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Julius Caesar had it all, wanted more, and lost everything.
Time will tell if history student Obama learns anything from history’s mistakes, or if he subverts history’s truths to his own histrionics.
Brooklyn born, Long Island raised, and now living in Los Angeles, Eric Golub is a politically conservative columnist, author, public speaker, satirist and comedian. Eric is the author of the book trilogy “Ideological Bigotry, “Ideological Violence,” and “Ideological Idiocy.”
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