“Hope” Isn’t Working for Obama, Either!

“Hope is not a strategy.” Mitt Romney said this two days ago in Virginia regarding Obama’s policy of hope toward the Middle East. Over the last four years, there have been several tentacles of Obama’s policies that are led (using that term loosely) by hope as opposed to actual leadership. Hope was an integral aspect of his 2008 campaign, and hope seems to be his guiding force for all decisions and policy statements. Somehow, if you hope it to be…

No, Mr. President. The first debate demonstrated for us all that your hope does not equate to strength, leadership and the ability to motivate others. In fact, I would argue that the polls shifted in Romney’s favor after the debate because the American people saw both candidates and determined for themselves who the better leader would be. Americans want strong leaders. Women, especially, tend to lean toward men who take a leadership role, which can explain why Romney has also closed the gap with women nationwide.it will happen.

In March 2012, John Mariotti and Dave Lukas released a book Hope Is Not a Strategy: Leadership Lessons from the Obama Presidency. The book focuses on Obama’s leadership style, or lack thereof. I spent some time with the authors recently in a telephone interview. Co-author Dave Lukas believes hope was allowed to be a leadership strategy because the media “never did their job” to research Obama and what he meant by fundamentally remaking America (The Brenner Brief has reported on the main stream media’s failures previously). “The Presidency is a sales position,” Lukas believes, “but you have to be in a position to bring that substance with you. Hope works from a style standpoint … but once he got in there was no substance to back it up.”

The 30th chapter is “The Definition of Insanity.” John Mariotti, the co-author of the book, believes that this chapter sums up the Obama Presidency – “doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results,” Mariotti explains. He has written extensively on leadership and the role of the leader as a best-selling  author and columnist. Mariotti teaches that leadership is “knowing what to do, and then being able to pull people together to get it done.” When you examine both of those elements of leadership, Obama is lacking. There are numerous examples of his not making a decision on an issue until he is forced to do so by his staff,  often making the incorrect decision. And of course, it is clear from the polarization and divisiveness in Washington that Obama has not been able to unify legislators to “get it done” on the budget, the debt, jobs, the economy and many other issues facing us still.

“Mitt Romney has been a business executive for his entire life,” Mariotti points out. In addition, the Salt Lake City Olympics was a monumental opportunity for him to learn how to deal with the world. Every nation has its politics, its demands, its problems, its petty requirements, and Romney experienced leading the Olympics to great success, demonstrated his ability to know what to do, and being able to pull people together to get it done. Mariotti also believes that Romney is often short on specifics because he knows he needs to be able to pull members of Congress together to accomplish his goals. With more flexibility and the ability to incorporate others’ opinions, Mariotti believes that Romney understands this to be his path to legislative success. The Obama way is “I’m the smartest guy in the room, I only have you all here because I have to, and we’re going to do what I want to do,” as Mariotti describes it.

It is a rare occasion that Romney’s private equity background is noted as a positive attribute for a President of the United States. However, Mariotti describes it as exactly that, saying, “[Private equity people] have to deal with the conflicting goal of getting management they bought with the company to do what they as investors would like them to do.” Whether an international or domestic corporation, Romney has dealt with leading organizations through seeing his vision for what must happen, and then bringing them on board to cross the finish line together. Contrast this with a community organization who simply agitates, angers and motivates, but never actually leads, articulates his own vision or brings people on board to accomplish a mission. In fact, Obama’s experience is the complete opposite of Romney’s: Obama’s job experience before running for office was to polarize people and gin up excitement so that people would be angered enough to go vote. Romney has a history of bringing people together. Obama has a history of dividing people.

Lukas highlights integrity (trust) as a major component to leadership. Referencing the recent presidential debate, Lukas says, “In one breath, Romney said, ‘under Obama the average family has lost $4300 a year in income.’ In the next breath, Obama talked about how he cut taxes and put more money in people’s pockets to send more kids to college. I don’t see how the two can make any sense.” In addition, Lukas points out that Obama repeatedly stated at that debate that “math is important” and “budgets matter.” “The guy hasn’t passed a budget in his whole term,” Lukas reminds us. Obama’s leadership does not just fail us internationally or domestically, but he cannot even wrangle together his own party (which held the majority in the Congress for two years) to pass a budget. He would rather blame it on the Republicans, who were in the minority for the first two years and still only hold the House. And of course, this is after blaming Bush.

Chapter 31 of the book is entitled “Make Three Envelopes.” Mariotti and Lukas explain this story on page 159 of the book:

Upon taking a new job, a man is given three numbered envelopes by his predecessor and told: “Open these in number order when you get into trouble.” When the first trouble comes, the man opens the envelopes number one. In it is a small piece of paper that says, “Blame your predecessor.” He does that, and it seems to work; his trouble is averted. Then, a few months later, some new trouble crops up. The man opens envelope number two, and the slip of paper shows the advice, “Blame your staff.” He does so, and that also seems to help remedy the trouble — at least transferring the blame for it from him to others. Finally, after a bit more time has elapsed, bigger trouble comes, and the man reaches frantically for the third envelope and opens it. The note inside says, “You are toast; you are gone. But before you go, make three numbered envelopes to give your successor.”

While I sincerely doubt that Obama needs to give Romney any advice, or even would if he had any wisdom to share, many of us certainly look forward to the day when Obama is given the opportunity to leave three envelopes for Romney. Obama has utilized the first and second repeatedly, and will hopefully open the third on November 6.


  1. You are a wonderful writer, Sara. While I cannot support either major parties because of the people controlling those parties, you have presented Mitt Romney in a very positive light and shown our current usurper-in-chief for what his is… a Marxist empty suit.

    Were it not for the traitors that allowed him to ascend to and hold the Oval Office he would be in prison today or worse for the crimes he has committed… crimes which seem to rarely see the light of day.

    Why is that do you suppose?

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