Ben Langhinrichs

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September, 2008
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Civility in critiquing the ideas of others is no vice. Rudeness in defending your own ideas is no virtue.


Tue 30 Sep 2008, 06:43 AM
These are scary times for all of us.  Scary not just for those of us in the U.S., as the global economy is highly interwoven these days.  But here in the U.S., we are in the middle of an election campaign.  Barack Obama and John McCain are vying for the leadership of the U.S., and this is the great real life chance to prove their stuff.  So far, I'd give a slight edge, but only slight, to how Barack Obama has handled the crisis, because he has mostly stuck to trying to calm people down while still emphasizing the seriousness of the situation and letting the people actually in charge do their job.  But things have changed now.  The people in power have pretty much failed to either convince the rest of us that they know what they were doing, or to even agree amongst themselves of a single flawed plan they could stand behind.

We now face a leadership crisis.  The existing leadership, especially that of President George Bush, has demonstrated its inability to cope or handle the crisis.  The potential leaders, Barack Obama and John McCain, now have their chance to show their stuff in a real debate that matters.  I wish one, or preferably both, would stand up and promote an Obama Plan and a McCain Plan that would:

a) clearly explain to the people why this was a crisis we must face now;
b) describe in three to six pages an actual plan with specifics;
c) accept the full responsibility for the plan.

This would be politically risky, especially for Barack Obama who is currently well ahead in the polls and could just avoid the risk.  He shouldn't.  

It would be difficult, especially for John McCain who would have to convince a majority Democratic Congress to allow him the leadership credit.  He could do it, but it would take great force of will and an openness to truly understanding and accommodating both sides.

It would be scary for both men to accept that they could be forever associated with the success or failure of their plans by intentionally naming it after themselves.

It would show true leadership.  The time is now; the opportunity is here.  Who will seize it?  Will anyone?

Update: While neither Barack Obama or John McCain has gone as far as I suggest, both seem to have recognized more fully the necessity of getting strongly behind a bail out rescue plan.  For example, Barack Obama has taken to actually trying to educate people about the issue, and it appears that both Barack Obama and John McCain have gotten behind the idea of raising the FDIC limit to $250,000, which would make a lot of people with small businesses or ad-hoc retirement accounts rest more easily.  Both are still trying to pin the blame for the crisis on the other, but I think both have at least kept that at a low key and turned up the effort to actually get a bill passed.  Let's hope that the bill they pass is a more reasonable alternative, probably phased in at lower amounts and with more oversight.  A guy can hope, as least.

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