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Dec-15-2012 16:25printcomments

Can American Leaders Lead?

“Another day, another mass shooting in America. When, and how, will this end? In fact, will it ever end?” - New York Times op-ed columnist Charles M. Blow

Vigil for school shooting victims

(LONDON) - The longer version of the headline question is this: Given the corruption of the American political system which puts what passes for democracy up for sale to the highest lobby bidders, will any U.S. President (not only a second-term Obama) ever be able to shape and implement policies which best serve the longer term interests of all Americans rather than the short-term interests of the most powerful lobbies?

Usually that question or something very like it is asked in the context of the Israel-Palestine conflict, when a president has demonstrated with rhetoric a desire to advance the co-called peace process and has been blocked by the Zionist (not Israel) lobby and its stooges in Congress. But today, following the slaughter of the innocents in Connecticut, the question has a domestic context.

Something close to despair could be detected in a piece written for the New York Times by op-ed columnist Charles M. Blow. His opening words were these: “Another day, another mass shooting in America. When, and how, will this end? In fact, will it ever end?”

Blow quoted the words of a visibly shaken and tearful President Obama. “As a country, we have been through this too many times. We’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.”

Blow went on: “I agree. I only hope that in coming days we flesh out what ‘meaningful action’’ means in policy terms. If not now, when? After the next shooting? How many more deaths and mass shootings will it take for Washington to begin to lead the country in a deeper conversation about sensible gun controls? What will it take for our politicians to take firm and principled positions on gun policies and stand up to the gun lobby in this country? Surely this is a moment that calls all of us to reckoning

Echoing Blow’s despair, the New York Times concluded its editorial with these words: “The more that we hear about gun control and nothing happens, the less we can believe it will ever come. Certainly it will not unless Mr. Obama and Congressional leaders show the courage to make it happen.”

The comment of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is also co-chairman of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, seemed to be driven more by real anger than despair. He said in a statement: “Calling for ‘meaningful action’ is not enough, We need immediate action. We have heard all the rhetoric before. What we have not seen is leadership - not from the White House and not from Congress. That must end today.”

Fine words but they take me back to my headline question - Can American leaders lead?

The short answer it seems to me is “No” - they will never be able to lead so long as America’s political system remains as corrupt as it is. And the only way to clean up the corruption is by putting election campaigning off limits to lobby funding.

That is the real reckoning to which Americans are being called.



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Ralph E. Stone December 17, 2012 7:37 am (Pacific time)

The murder of 20 children and 7 adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut was horrible beyond words. Schools are supposed to be a safe place for our children or at least they used to be. My reaction is more gun control. Gun control, of course, can run counter to the 2008 case of District of Colombia v. Heller where the Supreme Court found that Americans have a Second Amendment right to "keep and bear arms." However, this does not mean that federal and state governments cannot pass and enforce gun control laws. In fact, most gun control laws have been found to be valid after the Supreme Court decision. The irony is that the U.S. is the world's largest arms exporter. If nothing meaningful is done, there will be much hand wringing and grieving and then the cycle of killings will continue ad infinitum.

Douglas Benson December 17, 2012 5:39 am (Pacific time)

Those who would trade liberty for imagined security lose both and deserve niether.

Daniel Johnson December 15, 2012 9:10 pm (Pacific time)

America: A failed state that began with such hope!

Anonymous December 15, 2012 5:21 pm (Pacific time)

We have no leadership and we won't until Obama and his roaches out of the office. If we had teachers with concealed weapons permit, the suspect would be dead before the massacre began. The answer is not "no gun zone", the answer is,netting honest and law abiding citizens concealed handgun permits and have them take care of the problem. No one in their right mind will start a shooting in a place where people are allowed to have weapons. The bad guys always will be able to get weapons illegally. Especially with an Administration with a history of supplying weapons to the criminals. Stop blaming the honest people with weapons, start blaming the incompetent Administration, to able to keep innocent citizens safe, not from terrorists and criminals. Guns don't kill, the people who have the guns kill.

 DJ: Mr. Anonymous: There have been 62 mass shootings in the U.S. in the last thirty years. A bit of a stretch to blame Obama, or even the Democrats. Since 1980, there has been eight years of Reagan, four years of Bush1 and eight years of Bush 2.; compared to eight years of Clinton and four years of Obama. That's nearly two thirds of Republican administration. Pretty clear which party has brought America to its knees.  




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