When President Obama was elected, he came to office with a mandate to resolve a number of ongoing problems in the United States. The path of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and a deepening economic crisis were major issues with which Obama was asked to contend. In the short time he has served as president, Barack Obama has shown excellent leadership in addressing the problems the nation faces. (Kohut, et. al.
2009) While the efficacy of his solutions is still an open question, it would be difficult to argue that he has not shown the characteristics of a good leader when executing his policies. The president has taken demonstrable and definitive action regarding the War in Iraq. (Hurst, 2009) He had promised to end our involvement in the conflict by a certain deadline, and, while he extended the original 16-month deadline to 19 months, he has stood firm on withdrawing from the region. (Hurst, 2009) Congressional response to this initiative has been fairly positive.
(Hurst, 2009) It should be noted that the Congress contains a large majority of Democrats, most of whom were sympathetic to this initiative. Despite the support, Obama’s administration has been in constant discussions with the Iraqis and congressional opponents of withdrawal, and has stood firm on the deadline in August of 2010. (Hurst, 2009) The public, many of whom have expressed support of withdrawal, has continued to support the President as he has acted on this issue. He has also instituted inquiries about a more effective plan of action in Afghanistan.
(Hurst, 2009) He has effectively muted party opposition to his military policy by retaining the Republican Secretary of Defense, who has been supportive of the President’s initiatives involving the military. (Hurst, 2009) As a demonstration of leadership, this issue allowed Obama to show his ability to be a leader. He clearly listened to opposing viewpoints, weighed the options and is choosing a course of action that he believes to be the best. Having made the decision, he has clearly delineated his reasoning and responded to critics in a calm and respectful manner.
These actions on his part have illustrated the qualities of an effective leader. Perhaps the most serious test of Obama’s leadership has been the issues associated with the economy. (Walsh, 2009) There are several elements of the economy that Obama’s administration is attempting to address. The first of these (chronologically) was the banking and real estate crises that struck the United States at the end of 2008. (Walsh, 2009) Obama’s reaction to the mortgage crisis has been to allow a massive financial bailout of these institutions connected to the crisis.
(Walsh, 2009) One of his earliest policies was a bailout of the automotive industry. (Walsh, 2009) The money given to the auto companies was attached to conditions about how the money should be used. (Walsh, 2009) While many critics of this policy derided it as an attempt to control industry by government (one of the hallmarks of socialism), Obama has stood firm on the need for accountability. (Walsh, 2009) Whether one agrees with his policy or not, it is difficult to argue that Obama has not demonstrated the qualities of good leadership on the issue.
He has faced and answered critics of his policy, clearly defined the goals and objectives of the bailouts and has reacted appropriately to conditions as they have changed. While the long-term results of his actions on the economy are unknown, the short-term indicators are promising. The stock market, which had cratered to around six thousand points in the Dow Jones industrial average after the banking crisis occurred, has stabilized in the mid-eight thousands.
(Walsh, 2009) Recently, Newsweek declared that the recession is over, and optimism in the real estate sector appears to be growing. (Zeibel, 2009) People will argue for generations as to whether these changes were the results of Obama’s policies, or an inevitable upturn, or “natural” correction that would have occurred regardless of the actions of the administration. However, the Obama administration showed effective leadership by creating the impression of active participation in the economy. Congressional response to Obama’s economic initiatives has been predictable and typical.
Deficit hawks on both sides of the political spectrum have been complaining about the huge cost of the budget and bailouts, while people on the left have been supportive of domestic economic improvement spending. On the whole, Congress has been willing to follow the lead of the President on these issues, further demonstrating his acumen as a leader. Considering the very short time he has been in office, Obama has shown himself to be an effective leader by ushering congress to go along with most of his initiatives, and maintaining a public approval rating that has fluctuated in the fifties and sixties over his tenure as president.
One of the most recent tests of Obama’s leadership has been the ongoing attempt to solve what most people agree to be a crisis in the area of Healthcare. (Walsh, 2009) This issue has caused a great deal of back-and-forth between the President, congressional Democrats and congressional Republicans, all of whom have their own ideas on how to best solve the issue. (Walsh, 2009) Thus far, the Obama administration has enjoyed less success in congress and with the public on this issue than he has with some of the others.
Part of the reason for this is the influence of numerous special interest groups. (Walsh, 2009) Doctors, insurance companies, pharmaceuticals and many other multi-billion dollar industries have a huge stake in how this issue is legislated. (Walsh, 2009) They have all been exerting their considerable influence in congress to support their own agendas. Additionally, this issue was attempted by the Clinton Administration, which failed to produce a program acceptable to all parties. (Walsh, 2009) The very attempt to resolve this issue is a demonstration of leadership on the part of the President.
He has determined to put his own credibility on the line very early in his administration in order to resolve what he believes to be a high priority problem. There are many other issues that are pending for Obama’s administration that will test his leadership abilities. He has proven thus far to be a solid leader on issues of the economy and our military. Whether or not one agrees with his point of view on these issues, it is difficult to argue that Barack Obama has shown a caliber of leadership from the office of the presidency that the nation has not seen in several years.
Work Cited Hurst, S. (2009, July 22nd) Obama: Iraq Will See “Tough Days Ahead,” But Pullout On Schedule. Associated Press Retrieved July 27th, 2009 from The Huffington Post website: http://www. huffingtonpost. com/2009/07/22/obama-iraq-will-see-tough_n_243066. html Kohut, A. et. al. (2009, April 23rd) Obama at 100 Days: Strong Job Approval, Even Higher Personal Ratings Retrieved from the Pew Report website: http://people-press. org/report/? pageid=1504 Walsh, K. (2009, July 27th)
Obama Lectures the Country on Race, Economy U. S. news and World Report. Retrieved July 27th, 2009 from U. S. New and World Report website: http://www. usnews. com/articles/news/obama/2009/07/27/obama-lectures-the-country-on-race-economy. html Zeibel, Alan (2009, July 27th) June New Home Sales Rise 11 Percent. Associated Press Retrieved July 27th, 2009 from Real Clear politics Website: http://www. realclearmarkets. com/news/ap/finance_business/2009/Jul/27/june_new_home_sales_rise_11_percent. html
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