It's not when, but what Obama said
Q: President Obama weighed in on the issue of the mosque at Ground Zero prompting grumbles that the gesture was unnecessary and politically damaging. Meanwhile the imam at the center of the controversy -- Faisal Abdul Rauf -- has been largely invisible, lecturing for the State Department in Bahrain and, according to his wife, unavailable until next month. What do leaders need to know about perfecting the timing of weighing in on a crisis?
A leader should speak up when the matter calls for his attention, when he has a well thought out and articulated position with respect to the relevant issues, and when he has thought through the various possible reactions to his remarks and anticipated those reactions as much as possible. With respect to his remarks about the mosque, and also about the arrest of Professor Henry Louis Gates, the problem for President Obama was not a matter of timing.
It was precisely what he said, that it failed to reveal a well thought through position on the relevant issues, and that he had not fully calculated the impact of his remarks. In both cases, he fell short, disappointingly so for a person who is characteristically thoughtful.
Posted by: drzimmern1 | August 26, 2010 11:14 AM
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