A few days ago, a friend sent me a link to an op/ed piece done for CNN by retired General Russel Honore, the man who came into New Orleans several days after Katrina hit, organized the chaos, and is largely responsible for saving countless lives and actually getting something done to alleviate the misery.
I will never forget the TV footage of Gen. Honore when he first arrived in New Orleans, striding around lower Canal Street, chomping on a cigar, giving orders, organizing activities, and then when he spotted a transport vehicle carrying Louisiana National Guard troops with their weapons to their shoulders, storming over to the vehicle and yelling “put those weapons down, God damn it, this is America!”
This was clearly a man who could take charge of any situation, a man not to be trifled with. A leader.
General Honore retired in 2008 and is now an adjunct faculty member at Emory University and Vanderbilt University.
His op-ed piece for CNN was about the damage done to our nation in the debt ceiling fiasco by the President and “our elected leadership’s amateur-hour, worthless grandstanding.” The General says the core of the problem is that they don’t share a common purpose, and instead “strike partisan poses they hope will be remembered during their next campaigns.”
Honore says this isn’t leadership, it’s playacting, and we should all be disgusted by it.
Perhaps his most trenchant paragraph is “It’s time to get draconian. But not with the helpless elderly who need their Social Security payments, not with the powerless Army private supporting a family. I mean it’s time to load our elected officials on troop planes and send them to Camp Shelby, Mississippi. Put them in tents with no air conditioning, have Army drill sergeants teach them teamwork and physical sacrifice. When they recognize their responsibility to the people of America, they can return to D.C., their upscale restaurants, and military plane trips, as though they were royalty.”
We need more leaders like General Honore to step forward and speak clearly about the lack of leadership and absence of common purpose that plagues our national government.
(Photo above copyright Associated Press/Getty Images)