One City

dalai-lama-obama.jpgby Ethan Nichtern

According to the Washington Post, President Obama has postponed meeting with His Holiness the Dalai Lama until after a summit with Chinese Leader Hu Jintao. The Post claims this is an attempt to avoid ruffling feathers and to strengthen ties with the Chinese. Of course, I understand the move diplomatically. Pride and appearances are huge in diplomatic relations, especially with the Chinese. But what about standing up for truth, fairness, justice, interdependence?

Meanwhile, perhaps the coolest (and oldest?) reporter in America, Helen Thomas, gave press secretary Robert Gibbs an earful about the Obama administration’s failure to forcefully and unequivocally stand tall and supporting the public option on health care reform (it’s a great video clip to watch).

Leadership is about diplomacy, and listening to opposing perspectives,
for sure. No one interested in mindfulness and interdependence would
dispute that. However, those qualities come into play after you
stand tall for values – values like fairness, justice, compassion, and
interdependence. If you don’t stand tall and firm –uncompromising– on
those values, you have no real strength when it comes time to
negotiate, or to listen to opposition voices. Relatedly, on the issue of bipartisanship, I
often ask myself this question these days: “What’s the point of working
on issues of representative government with the current Republican
minority, when that group keeps clearly and loudly stating that it dislikes the very idea of representative government?”

Has Obama lost your support at all? Did he have it to begin with? Just wondering.

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