"The bar that we set is the highest that any administration in the country has ever set." So said Robert Gibbs, White House press secretary.
In retrospect, it may be the setting of a bar too high.
The Center for Individual Freedom reported early on that the mainstream media was describing Obama's new staff and Cabinet members as the "best and brightest."
Then, very suddenly, a major reversal began to occur.
Just as President Obama was beginning to recover from his misstep in appointing Leon Panetta, a former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton who was completely devoid of intelligence experience as head of CIA, he was forced to apologize to Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, for failing to notify her in advance of his intention to make the appointment.
Obama's next Cabinet pick was for Commerce secretary, and he named New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson. That appointment failed when Richardson withdrew during a grand jury investigation into how campaign donors received state contracts.
The next nomination was for secretary of Health and Human Services. The nominee, former U.S. Sen. Tom Daschle, withdrew his name after he acknowledged he owed about $140,000 in back taxes on a car and driver service he had accepted while he was a consultant. Daschle paid the $140,000 after he was notified that he might receive an appointment.
Obama noted that the transgressions of Richardson and Daschle were "honest mistakes."
Obama's next appointment was Treasury, secretary, for which he appointed Timothy Geithner. Likewise, Geithner mistakenly had not paid Social Security and Medicare taxes for many years while working for the International Monetary Fund. However, the Senate approved his appointment, and he took up his position as secretary immediately following his confirmation.
And that's not all.
Nancy Killefer, nominated for the White House’s chief performance officer, withdrew her name, stating she was declining her offer because of unspecified tax problems.
The question could well arise: Are there any potential appointees available who don’t have tax problems?
The bar may have been set too high for Obama himself.
Unquestionably, President Obama is bright — very bright.
However, leadership requires much more.
Three qualities that are foremost in leadership are maturity, experience, and the talent to be decisive. These qualities are developed over time.
Notable is the fact that during his first news conference as president, the answer to his first question took seven minutes.
A more mature person would have known that it was unacceptable, and the length of time it took indicated his lack of ability to be decisive, the most important quality in executive ability.
Syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker expressed President Obama's shortcomings in this manner: "Absent is maturity — that grown-up quality of leadership that is palpable when the Real Deal enters the room. There's a reason why elders are respected. They have something the rest of us don't have — yet — because we haven't lived long enough. We haven't made the really tough decisions, the ones that are often unpopular."
The majority of voters in America, in their rush to judgment for "the change you can believe in," willingly overlooked the immaturity and lack of experience that was known to exist.
Obama had never done anything of great importance or meaningful nature during his lifetime. According to Wikipedia, in college, “he was the first African American president of the ‘Harvard Law Review.’ He worked as a community organizer in Chicago prior to earning his law degree, and practiced as a civil rights attorney in Chicago before serving three terms in the Illinois Senate from 1997 to 2004. He also taught Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago Law School from 1992 to 2004. Following an unsuccessful bid for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2000, Obama was elected to the Senate in November 2004.”
That was it.
As president of the United States, he would become the chief executive of the world's largest corporation and the planet's greatest military power. As president, he would have his hand on the trigger of a nuclear arsenal, the destructive power of which is beyond belief.
The electorate had hoped he had the ability and maturity to bring about the change he promised.
He is here. He has the job for the next four years, up to Jan. 20, 2013.
Indeed, he has set the bar high. Despite his apparent shortcomings, the nation wishes him well in his efforts to measure up to the job.
If Vice President Joe Biden is correct in his prediction that President Obama will be put to the test by some sort of international crisis that will occur shortly after he takes command, then we will know the answer.
E. Ralph Hostetter, a prominent businessman and agricultural publisher, also is a national and local award-winning columnist. He welcomes comments by e-mail sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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