It is a word thrown around all too frequently, and far to often without much though as to what actually constitutes leadership. Oftentimes, it means doing something or being in a position where your words or actions can motivate others, while it also means having the ability to make others want to follow you based on your actions or stances on issues. And other times, it means taking a strong stand for what you know in your heart and mind is the right thing, regardless of the odds or the obstacles.
Most of all, leadership is demonstrated by actions, and while there are many many opportunities to talk about how one would lead, there are fewer opportunities to stand up for your beliefs, both symbolically and in reality - and to back up your words.
This is one such opportunity.
As noted yesterday by ttagaris, and as demonstrated by Presidential candidate, Senator and, in the event that he doesn’t get the nomination, future Senate Majority Leader Chris Dodd is demonstrating leadership with respect to retroactive immunity for telecom companies as part of the upcoming FISA legislation.
At the time that retroactive immunity first was raised as a possible consideration, Senator Dodd was first to vow to do all in his power to ensure that no bill contains such an egregious blanket pre-empltive pardon for any behavior that was done in the past which was illegal. To think that such a preposterous accommodation would even be considered by Democrats in Congress, let alone its so-called leader and the top ranking Senator on the Intelligence Committee blows the mind.
Yet, Dodd said he would block the bill, and he did. Then he vowed to put a hold on the bill, and he did. After being ignored by Senate “leadership”, he vowed to filibuster and do anything in his power to stop a bill containing retroactive immunity. And so far, he has held true to his word, his beliefs and his values - despite the overwhelming odds and roadblocks.
When Dodd first stood up against this gross miscarriage of justice, three Presidential candidates came out and said that they would support Dodd - Senators Biden, Clinton and Obama.
Three people who want to be the leader of the United States. Three people who vowed to stand with Dodd, the American people and most importantly, the United States Constitution. Not only did Biden, Clinton and Obama vow to stand with Dodd, they vowed to “support a filibuster”.
Yesterday, Chris Dodd posted a note with action items on his website asking whether Senators and Presidential candidates Biden, Clinton and Obama will be true to their words and oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” He included links to call or email the Senators, since as much as we would like to see a latter day Mr. Smith, the fact is that Dodd will need help fighting for the Constitution.
All three Senators are, I’m sure, quite capable. They would all make very fine or satisfactory Presidents - hell, they have the potential to be more than that. But this campaign is about leadership, and three candidates have promised to support a 4th in showing leadership.
We have heard nothing from any of the three candidates/Senators in terms of whether they will be in Washington DC to stand with Dodd. None of their websites have anything about the FISA legislation, nor their pledge to stop retroactive immunity, nor their vote of support for Dodd. In fact, Clinton’s website has her all over Iowa on Monday, (neither Obama nor Biden’s have their calendars past tomorrow).
This country needs a leader. It is very easy to go “on the record” to say that you will take a strong stand or be a leader. Here is a chance for each of the three Senators who are running for President and vowed to support a filibuster by Dodd to show that leadership in the position that they were elected to carry out.
This is a time for leadership. Not a time to betray the Constitution or Americans by going back on your promises. After all, promises are promises, and leadership is demonstrated by actions, not promises.