LOS ANGELES, September 30, 2013—President Barack Obama claims to be a football fan. As his presidency becomes engulfed in fights over the debt ceiling, a government shutdown, and foreign policy pressures, he could learn a lot from fired USC Trojans coach Lane Kiffin.
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 can learn from some guy who coached a sports franchise. Kiffin is a cautionary tale of what is dragging Obama down. Obama may be the Kiffin of politics, although perhaps it is more accurate to call Kiffin the Obama of football.
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 Julius 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.
3.) Take personal responsibility. Stop blaming everybody else. Kiffin inherited a mess. That excuse lasted just over three years. Obama has had five years and he still blames everyone else for various failures. 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 in sports and politics. 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. Football and politics are team sports. Accepting blame is even more admirable than sharing credit. Only a narcissist would do the reverse.
8.) Respect winning traditions. The Founding Fathers built a Constitutional Republic, not a European social democracy. Your core supporters want you 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.
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 beliefs learned in some classroom are not a replacement for actual knowledge and expertise acquired through real world experience. Those who want everyone else to change should look in the mirror.
Lane Kiffin had it all and threw it away. Time will tell if President Obama avoids the same fate.
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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