Monday, April 12, 2021

Lack of Leadership - New Definition

It pays to be reading and listening to diverse topics, because you can get ideas back-to-back you would not ordinarily connect.

One writer, one interviewee on a podcast, neither an expert on either Covid from any angle nor on politics. Yet such are our times that everyone discussing recipes, or turkey shoots, or electrical resistance on ham radios finds it necessary to insert their opinion about Trump, or liberals or whatever. One person was clearly angry about the "lack of leadership from the White House" about Covid and went on for a bit about the "chaos." Nothing specific that Trump might have done, other than wear a mask more often, was identified. The other equally deplored the "lack of leadership from the experts, especially CDC," though I couldn't tell whether she wanted them to advocate for more restriction or less from the context. She also went on for another paragraph about the "confusion" over masks and vaccines.  I could look her up and find out where she lands on those issues, but I am not going to bother.  

In both cases there was nothing I could get my hands on of "What do you think they should have done differently?" If I really wanted to be a jerk (but a useful, accurate jerk) about it I could even press on to "...that was actually known at the time and feasible to accomplish?" But I am just telling you that here, behind the scenes. For purposes of understanding the vox populi, I would be content with an answer to the shorter version of the question.

My point is that there isn't an answer, not in most people's heads.  They have feelings. My new definition of Lack of Leadership is "lack of me feeling good about this." If you find yourself nodding and immediately thinking of examples of people of different political persuasion who exemplify this, I ask you to spare a few moments to think of folks from your own side, including one you know intimately.


james said...

Memory foreshortens the effort and tends to blur away the old debates, so it seems as though leadership in the past was more accurate (we're here, so they must have chosen correctly), more decisive, and with much faster results. Magically fast results, almost...
Ten years in a history textbook doesn't take very long.

Texan99 said...

It's rare for me to formulate ongoing problems in terms of "lack of leadership"--but on the other hand, it sometimes happens that a leader shows up in the middle of a problem and does something sensible and decisive, causing me to reflect, "Wow, all it took was someone with the good sense to lead effectively."

Israel's successful attack on the Iranian nuclear facility this week comes to mind.

Unknown said...

Hope this isn't too much of a digression.

At one point in my childhood there was a contentious race for mayor in our small town. One candidate spent most of his time describing problems with the schools, and what he'd do to change them.

From my perspective, he didn't know what he was talking about when describing the schools, so his 'solutions' were not only for non-existent problems but would probably be detrimental.

In chatting about it with my mother, she said "well it doesn't much matter, as what he proposes is all stuff that can only be done by the elected school board who disagree with him, and the town charter and state law mandate independence between the town mayor/council and the school board.

Of course on my next library trip I looked this up, and she was correct WRT the lack of any role for the mayor in how the schools were run.

The experience has had a weird effect on me however -- I watch what candidates talk about in their campaigns, and if they are proposing to fix 'problems' that are not in the purview of the office that they are running for, it turns me right off.

Anyway, pre-covid, when I read about the history of pandemics in the US, the roles of the Federal, State, and Local governments in dealing with them have been pretty clear from context. If there are going to be non-pharmicological interventions, other than for Federal facilities and federal responsibilities such as defense department and borders, they are going to come from the state or local health departments, as determined by how that sort of thing is organized in each state. Other than for people arriving from abroad, quarantine, isolation, 'shutdown', curfew, movement restrictions are things that are clearly in the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution category.

I was pretty pissed off last spring when competing federal agencies seemed to be actively subverting executive orders on entry to the US, quickly getting people arriving from asian hotspots through entry formalities and distributed into the US without quarantine, testing or tracing. As it turned out, the big problems came mostly on the East coast from Europe instead, so this insubordination may not have had a huge negative impact. But even though they were doing the opposite of what the President clearly intended, they were his agencies and employees, so such insubordination (and their knowledge that they could get away with it) does ultimately reflect on his leadership.

Other than that, however, the only substantive criticism of our previous president's handling of the pandemic has been that he could have done more to encourage mask use/less to discourage it.

A lot of my friends and acquaintances have exhibited that they either don't know much about US separation of powers, or that they don't have any problem with elected officials acting ultra vires when the officials are on 'their' side of a controversy.


Assistant Village Idiot said...

@ T99 - the ultra-cynical view was Marshall Tito's "Leadership is easy. All it takes is someone to make the decision. And if you are right more than half the time, so much the better."

@ Douglas - very good digression, as it shows how real things can shade into false ones. Part of "lack of me feeling good about this" will come from "Hey wait, that's not really under your authority."

Christopher B said...

See also "didn't have a plan." (Yes they did but during execution the enemy/events/fate gets a vote, too.)