When my children say that I am not listening to them, they really mean that I will not let do something that they want to do. So when I know exactly what to think when I hear some politician or pundit say that the president needs to “show leadership” on the budget.
The opposition wants the president to abandon his beliefs and adopt theirs. The Republicans believe they are right, I get that. Their positions might be correct, but presidential leadership as they define it sounds self-serving.
Leadership requires the president to lay out his vision. He must then seek to build a consensus around that vision while also engaging those who hold a different vision. A leader strives to find common ground with those holding opposing views while remaining as true as possible to his originally articulated principles.
That is called compromise. Confident and competent leaders do not fear compromise. Only in some Orwellian world is inflexibility equated with virtue. Yet Congressional leaders of all stripes retreat to the comfort food of their poll-tested talking points while citizen needs go unaddressed.
Take the budget impasse. Republican resist the president’s call for new revenue. Democrats say the the elections show voters agree with them that the entitlements Medicare and Social Security must not be cut. The economic damaged caused by the sequester proves that the child-like inflexibility of our leaders places the nation on a path to stagnation.