Leadership – The Civil War Can Provide An Example For Obama To Follow


The Peacemakers.

The Peacemakers. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I stayed home over the weekend recovering from dental surgery, and it gave me time to view a new documentary that I had recently purchased. The extensive DVD set of the American Civil War was a good refresher on a subject of great interest to me. After all, I have visited many of the Civil War battlefields during my life, and I find the period fascinating because it shows great leadership on both sides in the midst of a horrific national tragedy.


During the Civil War, the two sides had many great leaders that represented the full spectrum of personalities and attributes, yet each of the great ones used sound leadership principles to meet their objectives, no matter how difficult.

The North had Lincoln, a homely, soft spoken man, but a man who stuck to his guns and stayed the course. The Union also had General Grant, a disheveled and unpretentious fellow, who nonetheless took the reins of a floundering Army and got it back in high gear to finish a task many said should have been concluded much earlier.

For the South, the standout was, of course, Robert E. Lee, a skilled soldier who probably could have commanded either force, but who could not take up arms against his beloved Virginia. Lee got the most out of limited supplies and a significantly smaller Army and yet, despite the hardships, his men said they would follow him to the end of the earth. And, of course, the Confederacy had a number of other great military tacticians, men like Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, who led courageously and successfully before his untimely death by friendly fire.

These were just a few examples of the leadership and honor of the times, but they each represent important ingredients of leadership which are critical. Each had honor, integrity, determination, and a willingness to do whatever it took to keep their movement alive. They all had experienced difficult times in their lives and did not expect their men to do anything that they wouldn’t do themselves.

Contrast that to modern day America and the current political situation which is causing so many Americans to suffer. While there are many official leaders (and I really use the term loosely) in the various branches of the federal government, none has the level of responsibility and duty to lead that resides in the office of the President of the United States. And, sadly, I must state that in this regard the current occupant is a dismal failure.

While there are many aspects of President Obama’s performance I can refer to, for this article I choose to focus on just one: leadership by example. Leadership by example is that ability to expect nothing of others that you won’t do yourself and, in times of difficulty, to govern your own lifestyle accordingly.

It has been a tried and true approach used not just by the military but by many successful corporate and political leaders in the past. But President Obama, with his penchant for an in your face “do as I say and not as I do” style has made a shambles of a time-tested approach. It’s as if, frankly, he thinks he is the American King with no need to be concerned for the lowly common man.

It’s kind of ironic that while I was thinking about this, the President provided just one more example of his elitism and disregard for the body politic. Traveling to Palm Beach for a “boys night out” weekend, he enjoyed opulence at a prime golf facility, playing golf with some of his key supporters and even taking a golf lesson from Tiger Woods. Now that’s an interesting twist.

Of course, not to be outdone by her husband, First Lady Michelle Obama packed off her girls for another opulent weekend without the President at another ritzy location in a Colorado ski resort.

So we had a weekend of separate ritzy outings at far distant locations requiring expensive travel arrangements and heavy security and entourage support. The taxpayer be damned is the message I got.

Meanwhile, the average American is faced with stagnant pay or pay cuts, increased prices for everything including food and fuel for transportation and heating, increased taxes, the healthcare disaster, and the uncertainty concerning how much worse it will be before it gets better.

Mr. President, how about a little sacrifice yourself? How about setting an example of frugality like you have inflicted on most of us? After all, you have your minions trying to tell us that you might be the new Lincoln. How laughable. But if you want to be like Lincoln, take a lesson from Lincoln. Cut the spending in government, get the government out of our personal business and cut your personal spending on our dime. It is offensive and disgusting and America has had enough.


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