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Michael Maccoby

Michael Maccoby

Michael Maccoby is an anthropologist and psychoanalyst globally recognized as an expert on leadership. He is the author of The Leaders We Need, And What Makes Us Follow.

Playing from weakness

Question: In a high-stakes game of political chicken, President Obama appears to have bowed to Republican threats to block the extension of tax cuts to the middle class--and all other legislation--unless a similar tax cut for high-income households was also included. Is this realistic bipartisan compromise after a sobering election, or is it a sign of weak leadership?

As President Obama stated in his press conference Tuesday, the job of the president is to do what he believes is best for the American people. Obama has never had the votes in Congress to get everything he wanted. What he has achieved in legislation for health care and regulation has angered his Republican opponents, and what he has failed to achieve has frustrated the left of his own party. His strength has been in the results he has won; his weakness has been in a failure to communicate his reasoning for accepting less than he has wanted.

He told the press that he believes his compromise on taxes will strengthen the economy, while the result of a protracted battle to raise taxes on the rich would damage millions of middle-class Americans. He promised to keep fighting for what he believes is right for the country. But he scolded the left, saying that by insisting on purist positions they would lose any chance for victories for the American people. To gain the support of the majority of the country for future battles, Obama needs to continue to explain his reasoning with the passion and conviction he expressed to the press and the Democratic left.

By Michael Maccoby

 |  December 7, 2010; 4:39 PM ET
Category:  Accomplishing Goals , Congressional leadership , Crisis leadership , Economic crisis , Government leadership , Managing Crises , Political leadership , Presidential leadership , Self-Sacrifice Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: The tax cuts show progress | Next: Obama's 'Sophie's choice'


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Michael Maccoby ...if you are really an expert on leadership, you'd recognize that the current president is not really a leader.

Posted by: Hazmat77 | December 9, 2010 8:16 AM
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the problem was created by the choice of terminology.

The issue for Congress was the renewal of the Current Tax rates ... not tax cuts!

Real legislators recognize that bipartisanship usually requires compomise by those with the weaker hand.

Obama, unlike many of his extreme lefty supporters, recognized reality. His supporters fail to realize that an elected president represents ALL Americans, not just a politicized portion of the electorate.

This simple concept seems to be too difficult for some of the extreme lefties to comprehend.

Posted by: Hazmat77 | December 9, 2010 8:12 AM
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Lincoln was denounced for not taking the abolitionist position which was moral and right. However, he assessed the strategic costs of losing the border states, and likely then the war. He looked at the larger context and when the moment was right he issued the Emancipation Proclamation. That not only did in fact what the abolitionists advocated as a position, it also had military benefits. He also saw slavery as wrong, but unlike the abolitionists he had a larger vision of transforming our country toward a modern economy based on free labor and equality. This ideal future would have been unlikely had he lost the war to the slave-based South.

Obama, like Lincoln, is a strategic visionary. He has, unlike former Democratic presidents, delivered a major step toward creating a modern healthcare system. He has gotten passage of major financial controls on a run-amok Wall Street, a new citizens' financial products protection agency, continued phased withdrawal from a tremendously-resource-sapping Iraq War, saved the capital market and the American car industry from disaster, funded new investments in clean energy innovation bringing together government, universities, and industry, among many other advances toward the new economy we must create.

What have the republicans contributed? This is all grist for discussion in 2012, the next campaign for the future of our country. Many expected Lincoln to be defeated in 1864, as he himself thought. However, the American people in the midst of our bloodiest struggle with ourself, wanted Lincoln to continue with his vision, and kept him in office.

Posted by: RichardMargolies | December 8, 2010 11:35 AM
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Obama didn't blink , he closed his eyes and gave up! This is just plain stupid, a disaster, and an unconscionable capitulation to the most reactionary elements of our society!

Posted by: CHAOTICIAN101 | December 8, 2010 9:01 AM
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