Thursday, December 16, 2010

• Obama’s Impossible Gordian Knot

Over 2300 years ago, birth was given to a myth which in time became a powerful metaphor that has served us well through the ages when addressing seemingly impossible or intricate challenges. Halfway through the current Obama Presidency we face a moment when reaching back for an ancient Greek analogy has become self evidently appropriate.

Legend tells us that Alexander The Great fulfilled a prophecy by bringing a creative solution to the Gordian Knot – he sliced the complex knot with his sword, thereby showing himself capable of thinking outside the box. Gordian, the mythological king of the Phrygians had tied his oxcart to a palace as an offering to Zeus, and an oracle had foretold that whoever untied the knot would conquer Asia. Although he died at the young age of 31, Alexander’s conquest of a continent started with a bold decision.

History has provided ample debate on the event of Alexander’s controversial “solution,” and whether it was actually any solution at all, however, Alexander’s omen, has remained a favorite metaphor.

The present moment in history finds a society struggling with overwhelming unemployment, as well as a worrisome personal and national level of debt. Productive employment is critical to sustenance of a vibrant society, and it is through that employment that the costs of all of society’s “structural and functioning” needs get paid. A majority of Americans also understand that it is business and industry, large and small, that create employment, and the basis for all other employment. Without such employment, government doesn’t get paid. While this should be abundantly obvious, the American taxpayer is being led by an Administration that seems not to understand.

America went to the poles during the midterm elections and emphatically voiced its displeasure with the way the Administration and Congress were treating its most serious and urgent concerns. America is looking for leadership capable of making bold decisions.

This week, Obama is facing his archetypal Gordian Knot, IMHO. The current debate over the maintenance of the Bush tax cut has been worthwhile, and pushes economic discussion to the fore, which serves to educate. The solution to America’s economic woes however, does not rest with an extension of the Bush tax cut. The solution rests in the aggressive stimulation of job creation, and leadership that will-not-sleep-until unemployment numbers have been halved.

On Wednesday we were treated to novel expressions from an American President such as this one uttered by Obama to 20 CEOs in a session held yesterday with the Administration, “I want to dispel any notion we want to inhibit your success.”

The fact that his grammar is questionable matters less than the fact that he would have to say anything remotely close to an attempt at denying he has and will continue to “inhibit” the success of all businesses. His actions precede him, so his words appear to come from a distant corner of the twilight zone. It is not in his DNA to either stimulate economic growth, or care what the fat cats (his own rhetoric) of corporate America need to see from their government in Washington. He does not understand, and cannot understand.

The MSM is even posting articles about “détente” between this Administration and business. Détente? As in, “he’s at war?” Who would have thought this concept remotely possible in twenty first century America? In the middle of an extended recession, who would have expected a question posed to a sitting President such as the one asked by CNBC’s John Harwood, “Mr. President, can you repair your relationship with business?”

Pretend all he wants at “dispelling,” Obama is incapable of providing a solution to his Gordian Knot, because he does not comprehend the most significant problem facing the country over which he presides.

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