It’s a new dance craze—with craze definitely being the operative word—that is sweeping the nation, indeed, the world. It’s called the “Presidential Side Step,” and it is a dance of evasion and irresponsibility. It is that political dance where the President says and does one thing . . . and the rest of our governmental and public institutions do quite the opposite.
There was a hoary old joke back in the mid-sixties. Went like this: We learned from Roosevelt that the Presidency can be a life-time job, from Truman that anyone can be President, from Eisenhower that we don’t really need a President, and from Kennedy (this was at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis) that it can be dangerous to have a President. (A later addendum was that, from Carter, we learned that a man can be too smart to be President.)
Well, the last seven months seem like a lifetime, the President is truly “anyone,” and it certainly seems the most dangerous of times. But what if it’s the third part of the original joke that’s really in play here? What if we don’t really need a President?
We pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement . . . and individuals and corporations and governors are stepping up to the fill the Presidential slack. He tried to kill the Affordable Care Act . . . and companies and states are stepping in to fill the vacuum left by vacuous leadership in the White House. Non-Executive leaders are working the diplomatic channels to ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
A guiding quote on leadership surfaced again last week in the wake of the scurrilous non-fact about killing Muslim dissidents with pig-blood-tainted bullets in the Philippines nearly a century ago. This from General John Pershing: “A competent leader can get efficient service from poor troops, while on the contrary an incapable leader can demoralize the best of troops.”
The “best of troops,” those corporate leaders who had signed on to help guide the President, have abandoned our ship of state. They have executed the Presidential Side Step, returning to private practice where they can, once again, provide effective leadership. Perhaps this will become the most useful dance step in our history. All together now: A one, and a two, and a . . .
©2017 Richard Paul Hinkle