Obama’s leadership style is one of “Don’t ask, don’t be told”!

When one is President (or a CEO or a General), there are some “unacceptable” activities and behaviours that your organisation indulges in that it is better not to know.  This is a delicate skill that is not easily learned. To know, but not to be seen to know. To be informed but to avoid being told what you don’t wish to know. So that ignorance always remains as a defence if the “unacceptable” action or behaviour is ever revealed.

“Don’t ask, don’t be told”.

I don’t usually expect the Washington Post to be overly critical of a sitting Democratic President. But Obama’s apparent ignorance of what is done by his administration is getting embarrassing. A couple of articles in the Washington Post by Dana Millbank and Jennifer Rubin take Obama to task.

Jennifer Rubin: The list is growing every week: The IRS scandal, the deteriorating security situation in Libya, spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel, spying on journalists and the Obamacare mess. Those are just a few of the things we have been told at one time or another that President Obama he didn’t know about before learning about them in the media. Note to media: You have a critical job in briefing the president, so err on side of over-inclusion.

Then there are the things he had wrong or knew better but said anyway: There is a fatwa in Iran against nuclear weapons, “You will get to keep your health-care plan,” the Benghazi attack was related to an anti- Muslim video, and no predecessor had been compelled to negotiate a budget deal in the context of a potential government shutdown.

This prompts several questions: Who is running the government? Why is the president content not to know so many things? At this point one has to conclude he is intentionally ignorant.  …….

….. The list goes on. You would think the president at some point would be embarrassed to be the least-informed man in Washington, D.C.

Dana MillbankFor a smart man, President Obama professes to know very little about a great number of things going on in his administration.

On Sunday night, the Wall Street Journal reported that he didn’t learn until this summer that the National Security Agency had been bugging the phones of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other world leaders for nearly five years. 

That followed by a few days a claim by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that Obama didn’t know about problems with the HealthCare.gov Web site before the rest of the world learned of them after the Oct. 1 launch.

It stretches credulity to think that the United States was spying on world leaders without the president’s knowledge, or that he was blissfully unaware of huge technical problems that threatened to undermine his main legislative achievement. But on issues including the IRS targeting flap and the Justice Department’s use of subpoenas against reporters, White House officials have frequently given a variation on this theme.

Question: What did Obama know and when did he know it?

Answer: Not much, and about a minute ago…….

Some might argue that this is not a “leadership” style but an abdication of leadership.



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