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Kathryn Kolbert

Kathryn Kolbert

Kathryn Kolbert, a public-interest attorney and journalist, is the Director of the Athena Center for Leadership Studies at Barnard College, an interdisciplinary center devoted to the theory and practice of women's leadership.

First, focus on jobs

Question: Like U.S. presidents, military and non-profit leaders often face the equivalent of "midterm elections" in which they and their strategies are subject to an initial market test or performance evaluation. What's the first thing President Obama, or any leader, should do or say when confronted with unambiguously negative results from a mid-course evaluation?

Resilency is the name of the game for every leader. Take stock of the criticism, take it seriously and make corrections in both substance and style.

Unfortunately, the midterm elections contain no good news for President Obama and the Democratic party. The mantra that Bill Clinton never forgot--"It's the economy, stupid"--must become President Obama's mantra as well. The disastrous losses in this midterm vote gives the White House a perfect opportunity to refocus on JOBS, JOBS and more JOBS.

While I understand the White House's desire to make big change--in U.S. foreign policy, health care, environmental policy, financial reform--this broad, unmanageable agenda has forced the president to rely for success on an unpredictable, uncontrollable Congress and lose control of his own bully pulpit.

The president needs to convince Americans that he has compassion for people who have been affected by the downturn (losing the wonk-speak could really help) and that the only thing he cares about is reversing the dire economic conditions. "It's the economy, stupid," is his ticket to a two-term presidency.

By Kathryn Kolbert

 |  November 1, 2010; 4:19 PM ET
Category:  Accomplishing Goals , Crisis leadership , Economic crisis , Government leadership , Political leadership , Politics , Presidential leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Obama's gift of opportunity | Next: Take a deep breath

Comments

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It is not up to the Federal Government to create private sector jobs. It is up to the Federal Government to intrude as little as possible in private sector business and allow it to grow. Red tape, taxes, overzealous regulation keeps business from hiring and prospering. President Obama is in charge of the biggest failing business in the world, the United States Federal Government. In two years he has added trillions of dollars in red ink to it's bottom line. It is not a good idea to let this CEO meddle in the private sector.

Posted by: bobbo2 | November 7, 2010 9:56 AM
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Congratulations to Ms. Kolbert! Of all of the "talking heads" opining about the significance of yesterday's elections results, her conclusion is absolutely correct. The American people do not give half a damn about returning to the limited government envisioned by our Founding Fathers, the hypothesis blathered by many conservative commentators. Nor do the American people fail to understand the benevolent deeds bestowed upon them by the Democratic party, the conjecture prattled by many liberal commentators.

Instead, the public expressed loudly and clearly that it wants a government that understands and addresses its priorities IN ORDER. What that means is that Democrats' first priority needed to have been jobs, jobs, jobs. Not health care, not consumer protection, not financial regulation, not cap and trade, and certainly not gays in the military. President Obama and the Democratic Congress could have created an entirely new federal agency so long as it was dedicted to creating jobs for Americans. Democrats were repudiated in yesterday's election for placing their own priorities ahead of those of the American people.

Posted by: ATLMichael | November 3, 2010 4:27 PM
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liberalbasher is a complete lunatic who demonstrates the irrationality and hatred of a large segment of the people who just voted to put the Republicans back into a majority so they can continue their campaign to destroy the American economy and the American middle class.

Posted by: ejs2 | November 3, 2010 5:57 AM
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Reasons to HATE liberals. EJS2, idiot.

How about this.

Obama didn't fix health care. HE MADE IT WORSE. There needed to be reform, to bring down costs. ITS GOING TO BE MORE EXPENSIVE.
NOBODY, but MORONS like YOU wanted NOTHING but a single payer. Failure by Obama and company

The economy? I'ts not better. Failure by Obama and company.

The housing meltdown. ITS THE DEMOCRATS FAULT you moron. YOU are the ones that loosened credit to the point that ANYONE could get it for morgages. THEY COULDN'T PAY THE BILLS. YOU caused this EJ, you and your left wing aholes that wanted to give the bank away.

Oil spill. What the f moron. You scum bag liberals did nothing but attack President Bush over Katrina response. Whats wrong hypocrite/liar, can't handle the same heat when your president screws up.

Terrorism. Guess what f wad. There is NOTHING this president is doing ANY DIFFERENT than President Bush. NOTHING, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. The time table to leave Iraq was President Bush's. NOT OBAMA'S.

This president has done NOTHING. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

oh, lets talk about civil rights. Under this president. THEY HAVE GONE BACKWARDS. Thank you EJ for giving us a bigot for a president. Thank you EJ for now thinking it is ok for black individuals to intimidate white individuals at the voting booth.

Again, the ONLY GOOD LIBERAL IS A DEAD ONE. I hate liberals. And EJ, I hate YOU. I would be one happy camper to see one of your fellow democrats(gang members/illegal immigrants) to use you as target practice. Because thats all democrats are. CRIMINALS AND ILLEGALS.

Posted by: LiberalBasher | November 2, 2010 8:33 PM
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Reasons to HATE liberals. EJS2, idiot.

How about this.

Obama didn't fix health care. HE MADE IT WORSE. There needed to be reform, to bring down costs. ITS GOING TO BE MORE EXPENSIVE.
NOBODY, but MORONS like YOU wanted NOTHING but a single payer. Failure by Obama and company

The economy? I'ts not better. Failure by Obama and company.

The housing meltdown. ITS THE DEMOCRATS FAULT you moron. YOU are the ones that loosened credit to the point that ANYONE could get it for morgages. THEY COULDN'T PAY THE BILLS. YOU caused this EJ, you and your left wing aholes that wanted to give the bank away.

Oil spill. What the f moron. You scum bag liberals did nothing but attack President Bush over Katrina response. Whats wrong hypocrite/liar, can't handle the same heat when your president screws up.

Terrorism. Guess what f wad. There is NOTHING this president is doing ANY DIFFERENT than President Bush. NOTHING, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. The time table to leave Iraq was President Bush's. NOT OBAMA'S.

This president has done NOTHING. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

oh, lets talk about civil rights. Under this president. THEY HAVE GONE BACKWARDS. Thank you EJ for giving us a bigot for a president. Thank you EJ for now thinking it is ok for black individuals to intimidate white individuals at the voting booth.

Again, the ONLY GOOD LIBERAL IS A DEAD ONE. I hate liberals. And EJ, I hate YOU. I would be one happy camper to see one of your fellow democrats(gang members/illegal immigrants) to use you as target practice. Because thats all democrats are. CRIMINALS AND ILLEGALS.

Posted by: LiberalBasher | November 2, 2010 8:32 PM
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I agree completely. I have been shocked and disgusted by Obama's failure to focus on jobs. While he may care more about other things since he's not the one struggling financially, his job is to respond to the needs of the people, not to dither around with whatever personally interests him.

For the past year and a half a lot of people on both the left and the right have rebuked this man for failing to focus on the economy. Sadly, the only way to get Obama's attention has been to throw a number of people in his party out.

Obama can still keep his job by changing gears to focus on the economy now. Of course, if he fails to do that, it'll be him and a lot of other incumbents getting tossed in two years, and he'll be remembered and hated as another Jimmy Carter.

Posted by: Alan5633 | November 2, 2010 8:15 PM
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I really don't know what Obama should do because I have no idea what it means for the American people to put back in the majority the same group of radical right-wing fanatics who caused all of our economic problems to begin with and have openly vowed to pursue more of the same. I think the President needs to focus on jobs, but I'm not sure what he will be able to accomplish with the Republicans obstructing everything every step of the way. It's all very discouraging.

Posted by: ejs2 | November 2, 2010 7:33 PM
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