Obama Flunks the Leadership Test

The U.S. Marine Corps' 14 Leadership Traits serve as a standard against which to compare President Obama's actions in his nineteen months in office. By this standard, he is not simply an unqualified leader, but the antithesis of a good leader: an "un-leader."

It is often difficult for us to prove things which are self-evident. Anecdotes and examples are not without merit, but in a vacuum, these alone often fall short. Without some set standard, it can always be argued that one's position is arbitrary and subjective, determined only by a preexisting bias.

Such is perhaps the case when discussing the leadership qualities of an individual, and in particular a sitting president. Results might be the truest test of ability, but without the passage of time, all results are not known, and such a standard is subject to dispute. Polling data is not a true test of leadership attributes: many great leaders went against the prevailing mood only to be later acknowledged for their insight and resilience. How to judge?

A standard for excellence in leadership is what we need, and where better to find such a standard than from the United States Marine Corps? The 14 Leadership Traits provide a time-tested (and battle-tested) list of what characterizes the good leader. And although there remains a certain degree of subjectivity when it comes to measuring an individual against these traits, in totality, they offer a very complete and convincing picture of the degree of one's leadership qualifications.

The 14 Leadership Traits are:

  • BEARING - Creating a favorable impression in carriage, appearance, and personal conduct at all times.
  • COURAGE - A mental quality that recognizes fear of danger or criticism, but enables a Marine to proceed in the face of it with calmness and firmness.
  • DECISIVENESS - Ability to make decisions promptly and to announce them in a clear, forceful manner.
  • DEPENDABILITY - The certainty of proper performance of duty.
  • ENDURANCE - The mental and physical stamina measured by the ability to withstand pain, fatigue, stress, and hardship.
  • ENTHUSIASM - The display of sincere interest and exuberance in the performance of duty.
  • INITIATIVE - Taking action in the absence of orders.
  • INTEGRITY - Uprightness of character and soundness of moral principles.
  • JUDGMENT - The ability to weigh facts and possible courses of action in order to make sound decisions.
  • JUSTICE - Giving reward and punishment according to the merits of the case in question. The ability to administer a system of rewards and punishments impartially and consistently.
  • KNOWLEDGE - Understanding of a science or an art. The range of one's information, including professional knowledge and an understanding of your Marines.
  • LOYALTY - The quality of faithfulness to country, the Corps, and unit, and to one's seniors, subordinates, and peers.
  • TACT - The ability to deal with others without creating hostility.
  • UNSELFISHNESS - Avoidance of providing for one's own comfort and personal advancement at the expense of others.
With a standard of leadership in hand, we can now examine just how well President Obama stacks up as a leader.


Does the president carry himself like the leader of the greatest superpower?

It seems, to the detriment of the Republic, that Obama shows real enthusiasm only for bowing to despots.


Dependable? We can depend on this president to do the opposite of what the people want and what the Constitution requires.

Rather than being decisive, Obama turns exclusively to the socialist dogma that defines him: progressivism is his default position.


As far as date nights, parties, golf, and vacations go, Barack Obama has shown initiative and exceptional endurance.

Governing? Well, not so much.


This administration has been characterized by nothing as much as its string of broken campaign promises and out-and-out lies, along with a series of special deals for favored special interests.

He and his spokesmen continually talk out of both sides of the mouth or, like Baghdad Bob, take outlandish positions in public which are completely divorced from reality.


What is not clear is that Obama has even a cursory knowledge of the areas for which he has the most far-reaching policy ambitions.

It is difficult to imagine a more misinformed approach to economic policy. Those on both sides of the aisle have publicly warned about the looming dangers, yet Obama appears to place little value in the opinions of others.

Rather, he pushes ahead with his agenda of incredible spending to a level that is more than irresponsible...something more like delusional.


This president displayed his notion of justice soon after taking office by firing Gerald Walpin from his post as AmeriCorps IG without legally required due process. Since the beginning, Obama and his goons have gone after the good guys:

And all the while:

It might seem as if this administration has it precisely backwards.

What about loyalty? To country? To those who stood by him as he rammed through unpopular legislation?


No tact with this man.

Selfless or self-absorbed? You decide:

The examples go on and on, and they could fill the pages of a health care bill. These are a small but representative sampling of this president in action over these last nineteen months. One, two, or three categories are certainly not enough to judge an individual's leadership qualities. But what here emerges, and what is truly troubling, is an overall picture of not simply a lack of leadership qualities, but an individual who is in every way the antithesis of a principled and effective leader -- an un-leader.

This, as even a blind man can see, is having monumentally negative effects in our economy, national security, and liberty. We can ill afford to allow this un-leader to go unchecked for much longer. We can ill afford, as a people and as a Republic, to repeat this mistake and to ever again hand such an un-leader the keys to power in this nation.

Michael Fraley is a former USAF pilot who considers his oath "to support and defend the Constitution of the United States" a lifelong commitment. He is currently an engineer and blogs at blog.keepingtherepublic.org.