Friday, October 05, 2012

What Obama Should've Learned in Kindergarten

There is a strong consensus that Mitt Romney surprisingly dominated this week's presidential debate. The effect this small victory will have for Romney remains to be seen but one effect that is most disturbing is in the response of Obama in the day following the debate.

With all of the pundits signalling a clear victory for Romney, Obama's team presumably worked through the night writing "one liner" responses to try to erase the embarrassment from the night before.

On Thursday morning Obama gave a steady dose of comments mocking Mitt Romney and questioning the identity of the "spirited person claiming to be Mitt Romney". What Obama was really doing was turning to name calling and excuse making in an attempt to alleviate the pain of the first debate loss.

This of course is exactly what we teach our children to never do. In sports, and in life, you will face tough competition and at times you will get dominated by another's performance. So we teach our children to be humble winners and gracious losers. Perhaps the biggest sign of a true champion is to say, "last night my opponent outplayed me and was the winner". You can then follow it up with, "Next time I am confident the outcome will be different".

The weak response of our President is a part of the political game that asks candidates to appear powerful and free from any weaknesses. There is an unspoken mistruth that causes leaders to think that shortcomings undermine their authority and ability to lead. We see this truth applied in business, sports, and even in our churches.

The real truth is that recognizing the successes of others and admitting our own failures is a sign of strength. It brings a touch of humanity and it communicates that we are in this thing together. It demonstrates the ability to learn from the past and move forward with new knowledge and wisdom.

"Name calling" is the tactic of bullies and comes from a position of weakness. Just as Mrs. Johnson said in Kindergarten, "Name calling is what small people do to try to make others around them feel even smaller".

This latest presidential response shows us just how far off we are in our  Democracy where the President is supposed to be a man or woman "of the people" and one who demonstrates the values we cherish in our country. If Obama truly is a "man of the people" he certainly isn't providing the example of the most basic behaviors that we expect from our children in Kindergarten. 

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