Rob Schwarzwalder is Senior Vice President at Family Research Council. This article appeared on Townhall.com, October 1, 2014.
Contemplation is valuable. It fosters the prudence good decisions usually require.
Nuance is needed. Not everything is simple and clear. Shadows exist in the natural and the political worlds. There is a difference between understanding right from wrong, on the one hand, and taking immediate, dogmatic stances on things which you know too little on the other.
Detachment is useful. The ability to divorce oneself from the heat of the moment and "think in time" is a rare quality, one good leaders must cultivate.
Intellectual discipline is indispensable. A leader often has to study issues he finds uninteresting and meet with people whose fields of expertise don't resonate with him, yet whose knowledge is critical to addressing things that cannot be delayed.
Understanding the inter-relatedness of many issues shows a sophistication of mind that is refreshing.
Barack Obama seems to have these virtues. However, when uncomplemented by their requisite modifiers, they become impedimentary.
Contemplation that is interminable is stultifying and becomes an excuse for not making decisions.
Nuance that qualifies endlessly obscures more than it clarifies.
Detachment that prevents internal, personal investment in things that matter results in ennui.
Intellectual discipline exercised more for the satisfaction of curiosity than for the determination of wise options is self-indulgence.
A vision of the integratedness of many issues that produces a refusal to prioritize anything means that if everything is important, than in terms of how a President sets and employs his agenda, nothing is important.
I don't think Barack Obama has, consistently at least, these modifiers. In looking at all sides, he seems, too often, unable to distinguish which one is the most credible. In reviewing all the options, he seems not to grasp that some of them are decisively and permanently better than others. In divesting himself of emotional ownership, he lets things slip and delegates with disinterest. The unimpeded rise of the Islamic terrorist front in Iraq and Syria might be a case in point.
Augmented by a predisposition to want to "transform America" through economic and social policy rather than take with adequate seriousness his roles as Commander-in-Chief and leader of the free world, and informed by a Left-leaning ideology that confuses blind nationalism with intelligent patriotism and thus eschews them both, Mr. Obama's leadership has been weighed in the balance and found wanting.
In social policy, the determined advancement of abortion-on-demand and the "mainstreaming" of homosexuality have been the President's chief occupations. In economic policy, expansion of the size and authority of the federal state, massive spending and redistribution of income have concocted sluggish growth and limited opportunities. In foreign policy, the desire for America to be liked more than respected, trusted and, by our enemies, feared has led to an international perception that this is a presidency unable to shift from neutral to drive.
The presidency of Barack Obama is a failure, but no one who believes this should take pleasure in asserting it. We need to pray, hard, that God will protect the President and his family, change his heart and mind, and energize his dedication to addressing the ongoing needs of our country with wisdom and allegiance to that eternal moral code that alone can sustain a free people.