A time to lead

There were a number of opinion pieces today that walked both sides of the same issue. One cannot avoid the question that yesterday’s shooting at Fort Hood raised. Ann Althouse discussed that exact point in a post about the questions seeking answers. Her ending is the strongest part of the piece.

The president pledged “to get answers to every single question about this horrible incident.”

I’m going to remember that pledge. And it is long past time for the President to step up and commit to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Enough with the demonstrations of thoughtful deliberation and concerned facial expressions made while saluting a flag-draped coffin. It is important for Obama to demonstrate leadership in war today.Perhaps most interesting are the comments to that post, which immediately take Althouse to task for questioning the president without offering solutions of her own. I find that perplexing. What she is asking for is leadership–she isn’t proposing that she take over. She isn’t setting seeds for a 2012 campaign against him. She is asking for something for which it is reasonable for any citizen to ask, that our leaders show actual leadership.

Ed Morrissey offers caution.

Of course we shouldn’t jump to any conclusions, although the impulse to do so is very, very tempting. What do we have? A single data point on a mass shooting where the suspect apparently yelled “Allahu akbar!” before killing 13 people. That could mean a wide range of things, from a conspiracy to commit a series of such attacks, to a militant anti-war action, or to just a lunatic with a religious delusion. That’s why we have law enforcement to investigate crimes — so that conclusions will be based on fact rather than conjecture.

I actually agree with Morrissey here. Just in trying to follow the story yesterday it was jarring just how often the details changed. The number of shooters? How many had died? Who was in custody? The identity of the shooter? Was he dead? A convert to Islam? Multiple tours of duty in Iraq/Afghanistan? The answers to those and other questions changed minute by minute, hour by hour. Each new detail triggered an eruption of reactions but how valid were these conclusions each time the details changed?

John Hinderaker has a different view of the president’s comments over at Powerline.

“Don’t jump to conclusions” is an all-purpose tautology, like “Don’t panic.” It’s hard to argue with. One wonders, though, exactly what conclusions he has in mind. I think it’s safe to predict that President Obama will never reach those conclusions, let alone jump to them.

That quote summarizes the real issue here. The short-term caution that Morrissey agrees with is prudent advice. What is missing is a confidence that President Obama will get past the caution and actually lead. I probably have a more critical view of President Bush than many that frequent wizbang. But that moment where he grabbed the bullhorn at ground zero represented true leadership. Not in the sense of “we are going to do X and then Y and it will take this long before we see results” kind of leadership. Leadership in the sense of “I know what just happened was horrible, but is going to be OK because I won’t let you down.”

There are times for reserved deliberation and there are times for action. Or, more accurately, there are times to give the impression that when appropriate we will act without doubt and second guesses. I have little confidence we will see that from this administration.

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