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On the diffculties of command...

One reason I don't like pure legislators as President is that they've never really *run* anything - certainly not in the sense where they were directly accountable for results.  Legislators get to hide behind the collective (and thus diluted) responsibility the legislative herd provides - a useful cover.

It doesn't mean they won't be able to become good executives - but oft times... 

Every President, no matter what their experience, goes through an OJT process.  How long and how well it takes is the test of both their metal and their mettle.

President Obama finds himself hoist on the horns of his rhetoric as he sought the office, and like Lyndon Johnson, finds himself having to fight a war he'd just as soon went away, so that he could reshape domestic policy and the polity to his ends and dreams.  Heh. 

His opponents (yours truly included) are accusing him of dithering, while his supporters say it's reasoned decision-making.  We won't know until well after the fact, probably after he leaves office, really, unless he does really well or really poorly.

Meantime, the troops do their jobs, watching over their shoulder.

On this post over at Ann Althouse's place regarding "dithering Obama" comes a comment that is telling, and one representative of many email conversations with deployed friends and readers.
The Drill SGT said...

To those of us like AllenS, Roger J and I, in other words combat veterans, the concept of your commander dithering is truly frightening. There is absolutely nothing worse than no decision. even a bad decision is likely to be better.

Terms like "Thoughtful analysis" and "considering all the facts" may sound great to academics and Lawyers, but when metal meets meat, the right mode is the 80% solution, e.g.

A good decision, made on time, aggressively executed, is infinitely better than the 100% solution, made too late, and timidly applied.
Word. 

Indecisiveness in a leader can be lethal.  And not deciding is a decision.  It's a decision to do nothing, and let other actors drive the agenda.  That's not leadership.  There's a different word for that.

Dilettante.

I really don't want my wartime commander-in-chief to be a dilettante.

24 Comments

What was he doing all these months??? Oh yeah...I forgot...making the health care problem a crisis, not researching global warming, blowing kisses at our enemies, and going out on dates with his wife. I guess I'm very old school...when the country is at war, and our people are in harms way...the Commander in Chief should be commanding. He's learning about the war NOW??? He should have been doing that all along...or do I have it backwards. With this decision...he won't have anyone else to blame it on.
 
Concepts, rationalisation, planning.  All very important.  But utterly worthless unless it transfers into action.  I suffer this malady myself.  Planning has the safety of never being tested, of always having the desired outcome, and I had a shocking perfectionist streak.  But real world activity requires risks so that first step into action must be done without perfect vision and certainty.  I guess the word is courage.

I'm not sure Obama has that.
 
When I was a brand-new Acting-Jack E5, my favorite-ever 1SG told me (in a fit of not-unusual-for- him chaw-fueled pique) "Make a decision, Sergeant!  Any decision, right, wrong or otherwise! Just don't stand there with your thumb up your butt looking stupid while you're trying to decide if you're coming or going!  Your soldiers are depending on YOU and that kind of crap gets people killed!  If you can't do the damn job, I'll find someone who can!  Now get over there and lead!  NOW, SERGEANT!!!!"

At which point, I made like one of those cartoon cats--my feet were already moving down the road at speed while my mouth was still saying, "Uh, OK Top!"

And to his everlasting credit (and my never-forgotten appreciation), he was never as harsh about bad decisions as he was about no decisions.   It was among the most important lessons I ever learned. 

I just hope Obama doesn't come to regret his avoidance of military service and the valuable lessons he would have learned there.

 
.........................OH I KNOW AND WE ALL WISH OBAMA WOULD CHANGE HIS 47 YEARS OF RADICAL LEANINGS OVERNIGHT AND FIRE ALL HIS CZARS AND COMMIE BUDDIES AND STOP SCORNING AMERICA OVERSEAS AND STOP CUTTING THE MILITARY BUDGET AND STOP BOWING TO MUSLIM KINGS AND STOP LYING AND RAISING TAXES.AND SHOW HIS PRIDE IN AMERICA AND BE RUTHLESS WITH IRAN AND BINNY LADEN AND BE A WINNER NOT A WHINER......TO LEAVE OUR FREEDOMS ALONE AND LET THE WORLD SHIVER AT US AS A SUPERPOWER AS THE DEFENDER OF FREEDOM BY ANY MEANS POSSIBLE TO LET THE WOULD BE TYRANTS WITHER AND DIE.....CAN OBAMA DO THAT?
 
Michael is your keyboard broken? Your cap locks seem to be stuck on and your punctuation keys seem to stick or not work at all. Perhaps a cola accident.
 
Greetings:

My favorite Platoon Sergeant was over fond of the "Lead, follow or stand out of the way." paradigm, at least he seem to be when he was yelling at me.

On the other (left) hand, President Obama wasn't much of a legislator, either. 
 
Dave - we're working on Mike one thing at a time, and it's working.  He got all his points in without once referring to unrelated scatalogical reference!  8^ )

Besides, if Mike is an older gent, I know several who type that way because of vision issues, I'm inclined to leniency in that regard.
 
I never thought I'd quote Elvis when referring to our President but... "A little less conversation and a little more ACTION, BABY".
 
On the other (left) hand, President Obama wasn't much of a legislator, either.

Gezackly my point regarding how the herd gives cover, especially to those members of the herd who are articulate and pretty.
 

Sanger,
My favorite 1SG has said basically the same thing to me, repeatedly, about the lack of a decision by officers and NCOIC's in general.
"Make a decision, Sergeant! Any decision, right, wrong or otherwise! Just don't stand there with your thumb up your butt looking stupid while you're trying to decide if you're coming or going! "

 
2 of the best pieces of advice I ever got from NCOs were:

1) SSG Yelton:  "Take all the time you need, but need all the time you take."

2) SGT Hill:  "Look at how it's made."
 
'splains it all:

"As an American I am not so shocked that Obama was given the Nobel Peace Prize without any accomplishments to his name, but that America gave him the White House based on the same credentials." - - Newt Gingrich

Consequently nothing he does will surprise me until he does something right. 

OBTW, read Krauthammer today his piece is very relevant to this discussion

 
I agree, that "indecision", is actually a decision. It can be  a really tough one for the "boots on the ground". The other thing is this, there is nothing tougher than unscrewing somebody else's screw-up. I do believe Obama has  made his decision, but is waiting until after the elections to announce it. I believe McChrystal will get his additional troops. Just a thought, this is the active "Long War", that we put on a back burner, so we could go "dithering around" in Iraq.
 
FEEBLE MINDS IN THE OVAL OFFICE.YOU KNOW IT'S THE PERFECT TIME FOR A BIG OFFENCE THAT WOULD PROBABLY DESTROY BINNY LADEN HIS CROOKS .THINK ABOUT IT THE PAKA ARMY IS FINALLY HAVING AN OFFENCE OF THEIR OWN AND FROM WHAT I'VE HEARD THEY ARE REALLY IN THE FIGHT AND HAVE THE TALIBAN RUNNING LEFT AND RIGHT.ONLY PROBLEM IS THAT WE DONT HAVE ENOUGH TROOPS ON THE GROUND TO LOCK THE TALIBAN AND BINNY IN A VICE AND THIS CHANCE TO DO JUST THAT IS GOING TO PASS AND THE PAKA ARMY CANT GO ON FOREVER WAITING -THEY'LL HAVE TO REGROUP AND IT'LL TAKE SOME TIME AGAIN FOR A CHANCE TO SHOW UP LIKE WHATS HAPPENING NOW.THE TALIBAN AND BINNY ARE THROWING KISSES TO ALLAH THAT THEY WOULD NOT GET TRAPPED IN A ENCIRCLEMENT.SIMPLY PUT A GOOD PLAN GONE TO WASTE SO FORGET IT.THE TALIBAN AND OLE'BINNY WILL REGROUP RE-ARM AND RE-ATTACK AND MORE LIVES WILL BE LOST.JUST DROPPING BOMBS USING A SMALL BAND OF FORWARD OBSERVERS WILL NOT WORK OR SENDING IN THE MIDGET SQUID A.K.A DELTA FORCE WILL NOT WORK EITHER.WHAT WE NEED IS BACKBONES ON THE GROUND JUST ENOUGH TO ENCIRCLE AND DESTROY .YEAH I KNOW,SOME MAY ESCAPE BUT THEY'LL BE SO BADLY BEATEN THAT THEY'LL BE UNABLE TO REGROUP INTO A EFFECTIVE FORCE.THEN THE POLICE CAN MOP' EM OFF THE FLOOR AND MOST OF THE TROOPS CAN COME HOME.I DO BELIEVE THIS WAR CAN BE WON BUT NOT WITH FEEBLE MINDS PLAYING WITH SOLDIERS LIVES.sorry john i just left the caps on-next time i promise not to- no kidding
 
hey john,yeah you're right i'm a older guy with other peoples bones in my neck held together with titanium bars also my back is shattered in 5 different places i was in surgery for over 8 hours just to remove shattered bone sticking in my nerves and to repair some nerves.i'm in pain everyday and will be for the rest of my life.oh yeah i died about 4 times but modern medicine kept me alive. my arms and legs are numb and i ache like hell.if it wasnt for all the morphine, butal,brain pressure medicine,despression/stress medicine and going to pain management i would wither in pain and believe me pain alone will kill you.but i dont pity myself i just accept it and yeah sometimes i cry alone tired of living but then i found things to do like gunsmithing and going to the range shooting my 1911 45acp.oh no my eyesight is good but my ears are gone-totally stone deaf.yeah i still sweat in my sleep now and then i just burn up and the noises scares my wife to hell that she sleeps in the living room.i was in a different kind of combat then most ever see- very personal type where like you feel you stole something from god .this stuff never really bothered me much untill i got older in my 40's.but yeah i still go hunting sometime .you know when you're like on auto-pilot in a life and death struggle for the first time if you live it changes you forever not matter how hot you think you are or how many school,pool hall ,or where else kinda fight you had before...it changes you.and how you control it and live with it varies but for me it's GOD AND ONLY BUT GOD.....
 
Well, Mike - I've got a buddy with a titanium neck, and myself, I live with numbness and pain from neck damage relating to playing soljer.

I can relate.
 
With this decision...he won't have anyone else to blame it on.

His style has been consistent.

If things went sour, he either --

1. threw the blame somewhere else or

2. if his name was prominently linked to the failure, claimed the failure was actually a *success*.

If things went well, he either --

1. marginalized the actual author of the success and maximized his own participation or

2. inserted himself for credit even if he had no role in the original action.
 
BillT, Profound point. Just a couple of questions, just who are you referring to? Are you referring to Bush '41, Clinton '42, Bush '43, Obama or all of the above? We all want victory, but to actually have victory, we must understand all of the facts, not just selective talking points. Your descriptive would be true for all of these men.
 

....goes by the name of 'Lucky.'

fdcol63, I LIKE those pieces of advice.  I have heard the first, but not the second, but it makes perfect sense!  Thanks for that.

BTW, Grumpy, I disagree.  W never came off as passing the blame elsewhere, not on Powell, Rumsfeld, CIA, anyone.   Mostly he kept that kind of stuff to himself, and for his integrity, he got crapped on routinely, so'd his Dad, really.  I wasn't a fan of W, didn't vote for him the first time, but I have nothing but respect for him.... and all the more given all the nitwit libs and eurodorks who hate him so much.

You know how it goes, if the people who hate W were to like me, I'd hate myself more....
 
As for O, I mistrust and despise extremists at both ends of the spectrum... Libs may be dangerous, but nine black kids didn't need to be escorted into Little Rock HS because of liberal hatred.  And it wasn't a liberal who shot kennedy, or bombed abortion clinics, or blew up all those people in Oklahoma City, and it _wasn't_ liberals who flew those planes into the WTC!!  It was people like our zealous upper-case using friend who BELEIVE, but whose causes just happened to be different.

I consider myself to be generally conservative, but brown-shirts make me reach for the guns, no matter what "-ism" they worship: fascistism, communism, socialism, McCarthyism, or even unfettered screw-the-people capitalism!

VR

 
Virtually all politicians IMO because such a descriptor applies quite well to our glorious leaders too.  Pretty damn common in corporate management too.
 

Hey John, man havent you heard? the F.B.I have added 400,000 new names on the list of suspected persons that may commit an terrorist act-400,000 names in just barely a year i wonder if they have my name or yours- know what i mean.whats the F.B.I doing?are they the  Gestapo now?also i heard that our s-of-s Hillary Rodham Clinton has got her way allowing the F.B.I to use e-trace as a tool to list every gun and owner and she and the F.B.I had been doing this with us unknowning behind closed doors.how was it exposed? a Sheriff  who discovered the agenda and blew the horn on them.the news is slow reporting this but you'll hear about it.everything is being put down on a data base for the F.B.I and B.A.T.F to be totally in control- to be able to know exactly where and who are armed.they are treating us like sex offenders now! i hope this aint true but fox is reporting it a -little bit and the JPHO a pro-gun lobby group is claiming it all as the truth.getting spooky huh! how many more #'s i wonder will they have by next year? 40 million? the F.B.I and the B.A.T.F are the new Gestapo and SD.and some police depts the new Kripo -if all this is in fact true.and who's allowing this? guess you know who.hey Obama go fight the real Terrorist and the real crooks.this goverment really fears our guns well thats good but treating us like sex offenders just because we belive in our rights to bear arms is against our laws and they think it's o.k .i'm going to stop now John before i start being "EVIL" by using all kinds of animal names for these scums.

 
"oh no, it's him again...."
 
hey i'm just passing word that i've read on news fronts,watchdog groups,lobby groups--if you dont care about where your country is headed then i dont give a rat tail.this stuff is not mine  didnt invent them-just passing word.anyway i'm starting to believe you're a Gibbs or Wesly Clark kind
guy who probably voted for Clinton and now Obama.maybe you just love Janet Reno.i dont know
probably not but please stop.o.k dont talk to me.i really dont understand people like you yeah- i know and i'm digesting to you right fine.and can you read this now?caps are off f.y.i. just piss off
i dont mock you. oh no ,it's him again...."sounds kind queer.please stop just ignore me.
 
hey i feel bad like i've been rude-but thanks John for the great website i got kinda addicted and wrote a little too much- again thanks for the outlet .while i was writing most of these post i felt like i was writting a open letter to myself.i'm really tired man.thank god that i held back but i did feel some of those good feelings again.bet you can tell i got some crazy mood swings by the way i wrote but really i'm a decent guy i could be the best friend you ever had but just for a moment .i lost the ability to make  friends and hated how love brought me up and down.we died in the past and left our soul there forever left it all in the past with a debt to be paid for the blood we shed  .
all i got is ink of a black rose with dripping red and skull for tango co.i know it may seem unreal
and today i cant believe these guys making 6,000 dollars every two weeks,but i do believe we saved many innocent people and i hope thats enough .was it worth it? i returned broke,hungry,and all winded up.but i did get a degree in electronic engineering prayed to our Lord to grant me peace and he has and my Wife taught me to love again,JOHN i'm gonna skip town for awhile so you wont be hearing anymore of my crap i feel like i just commit a crime or something to myself.but thank you and bless you.and i pray for all the Warriors Who Serve
i pray for you all and for VICTORY .ole'Binny got a huge DEBT coming.