Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Obama, New York, and Air Force One

This past Monday, a VC-25 flew over New York City. A lot of people got nervous and upset. A scandal ensued. The White House Military Office chief, Louis Caldera, took responsibility. President Obama condemned the photo op along with everybody else.

It is sad that Obama missed an opportunity to appear presidential. In hind sight, the photo op was insensitive. Obama getting "furious", however, is unnecessary. If Obama had taken responsibility publicly, then leaked out Caldera's role, then he would have looked magnanimous for shielding his subordinate. He would also have stopped the public witch hunt, because all of the hunters wanted to link Obama with this "mistake" anyway. Him taking responsibility would pre-empt their objective, removing their incentives to keep this scandal on the air. His critics would have little else to talk about. The talking heads would talk up the leaked Caldera story and absolve Obama of all blames. Obama would emerge looking better, this story would quickly burn out, and he would have earned the loyalty of Caldera.

So Obama missed a big leadership opportunity this week. Casting stone after Caldera along with everyone else is uncalled for. His "damage control" efforts make him appear weak and a bad judge of character. He has only cemented his reputation for "throwing people under the bus". His excessive focus on his own image is detrimental to his leadership of the country.

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