August 1, 2021

PASSING THE BUCK

Despite the fact that it had been used before, President Harry Truman made famous the sign he had in his desk saying “the buck stops here”.    It has always been expected of our leaders that they should and would assume responsibility for the results, positive or negative, of their actions.    FDR apologized on behalf of his government for the internment of Japanese citizens during WWII.    Reagan, even when advised of the fact of the lack of prevision for the security of marines in Lebanon by their command, which caused over 240 deaths, refused to use that reason for the tragedy.    “I will take full responsibility, because as Commander in Chief I sent them there”, he told his Secretary of Defense.   

 

JFK, before him, faced the nation after the failed “Bay of Pigs”, and declared in no uncertain terms that he was the one to blame for that fiasco.    This address was given in spite of that he privately blamed the CIA and Joint Chiefs for the failure.    Clinton and Bush, for different reasons (the Monica scandal and the Iraq war) admitted to their role in those events as being the cause of the public dissatisfaction.    The American people always have been prone to forgive those who are willing to admit mistakes demonstrating a courage that comes with leadership.     Our presidents traditionally have understood that and acted accordingly.    Presently we have an inexperienced and narcissistic president in Obama that will not accept criticism and refuses to admit to mistakes.    As soon as he took office, he began chastising the prior administration for the state of the country, and when his promises for results if his policies were enacted, did not come to fruition he continue to deny fault.    He added natural disasters and the Middle East troubles to the litany of excuses and refused to propose a different path only desiring to double up on his plans.   

 

The recession that he inherited ended in November of 2009, less than a year after his mandate started and before his policies went into effect.    This progress was made, we now realize, as an effect of the much reviled “bail out” of major banks and corporations by the prior administration.    The recovery has been the slowest in the history of the Republic, as stated by Forbes magazine, even worse than the one after WWII.    After the blame towards the past president turned stale, he started and continues his blame on the Republican congress.    In his explanation of his confused, contradictory and failed foreign policy that recently was evidenced by his mishandling of Syria; he justified his actions and rationalized the majority opposing view as people “looking mostly to style’, not results.    This coming from a person that has proven to excel, above all else, in his form and not substance.     Even those that supported him, many have belatedly stopped, understood his lack of executive experience.    The thought was that advisors would compensate for this deficiency.   

What was not evident to many was that his narcissism impedes him to accept opposing points of view, and as a result he has surrounded himself with a group that has a day to day political vision and will support his every thought regardless of its merit.    It is not easy to see a way out and a continuation of our poor economy and an increase of dangers from external factors look to be inevitable.    Only a future change of leadership could take us out of this misery.  The buck has been passed, to we the people.

Fernando J Milanes MD

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