At Some Point, You Have To Lead

At Some Point, You Have To


Leonard Zwelling

         I voted for Mr. Obama. Twice. I do not regret these votes
for several reasons.

         In 2008-2009, during the period when I resided at Ground
Zero Government Version 232.0, aka Capitol Hill, I watched as the Democrats
seized control of the entire federal governing apparatus and then promptly
booted a 60-vote filibuster proof majority in the Senate, a huge majority in
the House, and possession of the White House into losing the House in 2010, and
the Senate in 2012. Despite the overwhelming majorities in Congress and
ownership of the Executive Branch, the Blue Team could not figure out what to
do about the fiscal crisis and then made the cardinal mistake of pushing
through health care reform (expanded insurance really) when the country had
little appetite for it and the loyal opposition had none. Bad politics and
worse leadership.

         One would think that given my close view of the inner
workings of the federal government and the ineptness of the Democrats, I would
not give Mr. Obama my vote again. But Mr. Romney was a terrible candidate (The
Donald has this absolutely right) and so the Republican agenda was so stymied
that House Speaker Boehner found himself overseeing two parties (regular
Republican and Tea) and could accomplish almost nothing.

         In the end, history will tell us what it thinks of the years
2009-2017 when Barack Obama served in the Presidency. My guess is that it will
view America as backing off of its leadership role in the world while still becoming
entangled in foreign engagements, usually in sand, while the economic inequity
in the nation at-large only grew. The haves have more and the have-nots have
less. This is not my America and I put the blame firmly on me. I voted for a
very poor leader even after he demonstrated himself to be inadequate. Shame on

         But we are heading for a “new dawn,” as Grace Slick said at
Woodstock and we can hope that our choices a year from now are better than in
2008 or 2012.

         Despite the developments in France, I cannot see the
American people willing to give the new President a free hand at taking the
full risk load at ending the threat of ISIS with US combat forces. Rather the
next American President has to rise to the occasion and link our classic allies
(Europe) and new contributors (Arab and Russian) and lead them into battle and
end the threat to civilization that ISIS represents. He has to do what George
H. W. Bush did in 1991, build a coalition, set the goals, accomplish them,
leave. He or she must be clear in his or her strategy, tactics, commitments and
expected sacrifices asked of the American people. To defeat ISIS we all must
give up something. Higher taxes are likely. Favorite entitlements (NIH) may go,
too. We need the next leader of America to be both strong and welcoming,
avuncular and ruthless, considered and decisive. This is not Mr. Obama.

         On the front closer to Houston, the same character traits Americans
should demand in a President, the faculty, Board of Regents and Chancellor of
MD Anderson should demand in the next President of MD Anderson. The current guy
is as much deer in the headlights as Obama is. He doesn’t really understand
that Moon Shots as a metaphor is sophomoric. It’s as crazy as Mr. Obama
insisting on not using the term Radical Islam.

         Both next Presidents need to leave the performance of their
predecessor for the history books and start afresh. Who should these people be
is not for me to say. I get a bigger voice in picking the President of the US
than I get in selecting the President of MD Anderson. Fine, I get the drill.

         But in both cases there is a lot riding on the choice. To
the American people and to the UT Board of Regents I say, choose wisely.
Everything is riding on your decision.

         At least in the country I know when this will happen. In
Houston, it cannot happen soon enough.


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