Leaders take responsibility — not only for their own actions, but also for the actions of those around them. However, during an interview Thursday President Obama dodged Chris Matthews’ ‘Hardball’ with his usual accountability sidestep.
Matthews basically asked: Why didn’t Secretary Sebelius know who was in charge? Do you have a relationship with your cabinet?
President Obama’s response is anything but authoritative. According to him, the "health care project" in no way reflects his management style (emphasis added):
“First of all I think it's important to distinguish between this particular project, this health care project, where it is obvious that we needed additional controls in place, because it didn't deliver on time the way we wanted. And how we've managed incredibly complex problems for the last five years.
My theory has been, number one, that yes, I've got a strong Chief of Staff but I'm holding every cabinet member accountable and I want to have strong interactions with them, directly.
Number two, is I have an open door policy where I want people bringing me bad news on time so we can fix things.
The challenge, I think, that we have going forward is not so much my personal management style or particular issues around White House organization. It actually has to do with what I referred to earlier which is we had these big agencies, some of which are outdated. Some of which are not designed properly.”
Large agencies and programs — such as Medicare, the Federal Reserve, Medicaid, social security, Obamacare — are certainly difficult to manage. That is why it is crucial to create a working infrastructure before the launch.
When the President of the United States takes his oath he swears to “faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."
It is the Commander-in-Chief’s role to lead the executive branch. While he may not have complete control of what happens or does not happen, he is still in charge. No military sergeant, symphony conductor or CEO would point to a failed attack, song or project and lay blame on the people under his authority. The President of the United States of America should not be blaming the system he helped to create for failing.