Analysis: When leaders refuse to leave the stage, the nation goes crazy
Richard D. Johnston does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Richard D. Johnston has been a financial journalist for 20 years. He was an editor of the financial section of The Wall Street Journal, and had a weekly column in Business Week, where he covered financial market stories, and as an opinion writer, he was a contributor to the New York Times.
I’d like to start with a brief explanation of the phenomenon of the leader who refuses to leave the stage, even when he’s clearly not following through on anything. We’ve had the leader who refuses to get out of the way, for example John F. Kennedy asking why people were screaming at him. Or George W. Bush refusing to get out of the way for the president.
Then there is the leader who is on stage, who refuses to get off, and then there are those who refuse to acknowledge that they weren’t going to get out of the way at all, and are trying to spin the leadership vacuum as being a problem. Or maybe it was a problem after the fact, but now they’re trying to blame it on the one who wasn’t there.
We’ve had the leader who says to the world, “Listen, I did what I should have done. I wasn’t in the room, but it was done.”
One example: On the day after the 2012 election, I wrote a column about the difference between the candidate who didn’t deliver on his promises and the candidate who did deliver and the difference between the candidate who was elected in 2012.
I concluded that the president of the United States should have delivered that he was going to have an Obamacare bill by now if not already — that there was no reason not to vote for him.
Of course, he had already said he’d sign a bill by now. But in a piece for the Wall Street Journal, he came out and said that he was going to keep talking about it, even though he was a dead man walking — because he didn’t want to leave the stage.
He had promised to