Thursday, December 22, 2016

What Americans Will Lose when Trump Takes Office: A Sense of Responsibility

by Nomad

President Obama
Americans are going to miss a lot of things when President Obama leaves office. The most important of these will be a president with a sense of responsibility.


The editorial board of the Denver Post recently observed that the inauguration of a new president will represent more than merely the changing of the guard. We will be saying farewell to a president who has demonstrated a sense of responsibility.
The world, the article points out, seems increasingly unstable, with geopolitical tensions mounting in more and more places.

Next month a new leader will be faced with complex issues which will require tremendous intellect, subtlety, and heart. President-elect Trump has demonstrated throughout his campaign that he possesses none of those traits.

On the contrary, his remarks and actions have provided more than enough examples of his ignorance, his impulsiveness, and his frightening irresponsibility.

Just this week, we were given yet another foretaste of the Trump's problem. Only hours after the attack in Berlin and the cold-blooded murder in Ankara, Trump insisted on jumping to conclusions before all the facts were in.
It wasn't so much that he was right or wrong but that a wiser leader would know better than to launch a diatribe on twitter so soon after these events. By declaring these events as terror attacks so hastily, Trump had nothing to gain and, in terms of credibility, very much to lose.

His twitter account provides all Americans with a concise record of the future president's impulsive behavior. The attention-addicted Trump seems incapable of simply keeping his mouth closed.

That's probably one of the most essential characteristics of an American president; knowing when to not to interject an unhelpful remark.

The White House is clearly no place for an impulsive leader. The president must balance the desire to help with a full understanding of the limits of U.S. power. A responsible American president must weigh the risk of intervention against the possibility of making things much worse.
In addition to impartial intelligence and expert advice provided by qualified staff, the American president has to rely on his own moral judgment. Without those tools, catastrophe is all but inevitable.  

In the face of complex political crises in which a wrong move could set off a disastrous chain reaction, the stakes could hardly be higher. The op-ed piece expressed the hope that Trump will study and emulate the approach of his predecessor in dealing with them.
It seems extremely unlikely.

The Responsible Leader

In his last press conference of the year, President Obama was asked, as president and leader of the free world what personal moral responsibility he felt when it came to the crisis in Syria. Obama said.
“I always feel responsible. I felt responsible when kids were being shot by snipers. I felt responsible when millions of people had been displaced. I feel responsible for murder and slaughter that’s taken place in South Sudan that’s not being reported on, partly because there is not as much social media being generated from there. … I ask myself every single day, is there something I could do that would save lives and make a difference and spare some child who doesn’t deserve to suffer?”
Obama’s responses to international crises may not have been perfect, but neither have they been reckless. As the Denver Post piece remarks:
We hope Trump has Obama’s heart as he shoulders responsibility for America’s response.
It's perhaps a futile hope.
So far, there's absolutely no sign that President Trump is planning to take that responsibility seriously.