Can American leaders lead?

slaughter in Connecticut

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.


14 comments on this post.
  1. Nomorenakba:

    I cannot help but think that “meaningful action” might be doublespeak for implementing increased surveillance measures on a civilian population only too willing to give up freedom for the illusion of security.

  2. VFlick:

    Alan, Your Voice of Reason is One of A very Few I Have heard. Lobbyist Should NEVER be allowed Within ten Miles of OUR ? white HOuse. WE Know They are all Well-paid Vultures..Out to Get something for the least Cost..for Whatever Congressman ( Or woman ) they are “Acting for”.) THis is not a Government OF or For The People. It is Strictly One that is OUT for all they can Wring out of the System ( one they have learned How to work quite well ) And when WE..The People have been Wrung DRY…is when They will Be ready to “Cut and Run.. Probably to The same Woods GWB and Cheney are Hiding out. When will this Double-dealing Stop ? NEver…Not as long as We have a Bought and Paid for Congress That is OUT to Line their Pockets.. and who Really Care Nothing about The Average American in this country…( Prove me wrong. YE Congress ! )

  3. pete:

    We have the best democracy money can buy.

  4. Hala Kamal Abdul-Haq:

    But what if we asked ourselves the same question : Can Egyptian Leaders ‘lead’ ?! Borrowing Hart’s only way to clean up ‘our’ corruption, it’ll be “Putting election campaigning off limits to Lobby-Funding” by that he means ‘Zionists’ & I say ‘our’ Lobbies are the Islamists funded by whatever well-known Anti-Egypt Gulf countries; meaning that -to me- ‘their’ Zionists are ‘our’ Islamists in role, action & methodology !!! (as ironic as it seems)

  5. Vera Gottlieb:

    And political corruption can only be changed by changing the political system: the president with only one 7-year term (so he/she can govern without being occupied about the next election)and limiting Senators’ and Congressmen’s terms in office. More political parties need to be created and then introducing proportional representation. But as usual…lots and lots of talk and nothing happening.

  6. rosemerry:

    The attitude of US citizens and their supporters seems to be that violence and interference anywhere to further their interests are quite acceptable, that they are always right and that negotiations and cooperation are cowardly alternatives to threats and use of WMD. This, coupled with growing inequality and the reliance on guns for “self defence”, makes the “homeland” violence a natural consequence. The return in 2004 to legality of assault weapons shows that Congress, as always,is in the forefront of ensuring no progress is possible.

  7. Manu Herbstein:

    President Michelle’s first draft bill had the provocative title An Act to Restore Democracy to the United States of America. . .

    The Act to Restore Democracy . . . would make it an offence for any candidate for public office to accept gifts or loans in support of his or her election campaign; or, indeed, to use personal wealth for such a purpose. Congress would allocate funds to an Independent Electoral Authority and this Authority would in turn fund the electoral campaigns of all candidates qualified to stand for office.

    The Act would set up a National Broadcasting Corporation, publicly owned and financed, but independently managed. All candidates for election would be entitled to a free allocation of television and radio time. Checks against abuse would be built in to the system.

    At a stroke, this law would level the electoral playing field. For the first time in generations the wealthy would have little or no advantage over the poor in the competition for office. She expected new talents to emerge which would enrich and invigorate American political life. New parties might enter the political arena, breaking the monopoly presently shared by Republicans and Democrats and breathing new life into American democracy.

    From my 2011 political fantasy, President Michelle, or Ten Days that Shook the World.

  8. Bob:

    The US appears now to be run by a criminal élite. Ordinary Citizens are locked up for murder length sentences for minor offences but drug money laundering banksters are let off with a trivial fine or nothing at all. This is a big two fingers from all the plutocrats and the political whores.
    I think Igor Panarin who forecasts the preakup of the Federal Union ere long. Perhaps a Peaceful breakup is the only way to get rid of at least the top tier of Political Pathocrats/Kleptocrats. The American People must be united in their enemy which is our enemy: A small band of Gangsters in suits and the Political Whore class they have spawned.

  9. Marwan:

    I grew up in Lebanon and in the 70s and 80s we were proud if we bought any goods made in the US from clothes to tools to cars labeling them: “The best money can buy”.

    Today the only “The best money can buy” that is made in the US is guns. On a small scale American citizen kill each other. On a larger scale, America sells them to the Arabs and we also kill each other!! The only difference is: Americans killing each other gets more media attention. Arab death does not really count except if someone is “Killing his own people” from Saddam to Kaddafi and now Assad.

    Two weeks ago rebels fighting the Syrian government armed with American weapons (same people are called terrorist if they are fighting the Americans) killed around 20 kids in a school in or around Damascus. The incident did not get any media attention except on

    The role of the American president is reduces to a puppet waiting for a string to be pulled. I voted for Obama in 2008. I did not vote in 2012 actually I want my 2008 vote back! I saw his crocodile tears on TV yesterday. He will do nothing. He can’t do anything. He is waiting for the next string to be pulled.

  10. David King:

    Your question of if US leaders can lead; the answer I agree is no. That is the same for every government in the world. Governments exist for profit. They say and do what their sponsors require of them.

    In regards to gun ownership. I would arm myself to the teeth if I lived in the US. The place is now converting to a police state. The citizens will require their guns to protect themselves from their government. Obama has stated that he intended to remove guns from the population; and that he was working on this with something “under the radar.”

  11. dolores:

    The answer to your short question is, of course, NO. The System will not allow for any change because it’s the System that is in power now and the System favours itself above all else. That “System” is, by now, virtually universal, that is global. I agree with King David in that the USA is just the most visible of all the visible puppets, but it’s pretty much the same everywhere else. Or does anyone still think that Cameron is a free agent? Ot that Milliband would be any better? And look at France, Spain, India, you name it. Tutto il mondo é paese (the whole world is a village), these days. It can only end with a bang bigger that the Big one. Unless it ends with the protracted whimper of those who’ll wake up un morning and find themselves utterly enslaved (and I mean that literally and in the old-fashion sense) to some monster coprporation or other.
    Stil,,,. Keep them coming, Alan.

  12. Herman King:

    More attention must be given to mental illness.

  13. Rehmat:

    Dr. Richard Falk, UN envoy for Palestinian territories, became the latest victim of Israel Lobby. He was fired by George Soro’s funded New York-based Human Rights Watch group on December 17, 2012.

  14. David King:

    Best wishes to all my friends on

    Today is the fated Doomsday LOL. So if we should not meet again I wanted to take this opportunity to say goodbye. However, some are saying that today is not a doomsday at all but instead represents an “explosion of consciousness.” Could we be witnessing the end of zion?

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