What Obama Could Learn About Leadership From Chile's President Pinera

What a man is this President Sebastian Pinera of Chile! He believes in God and is not afraid to say so. He doesn't care about being ridiculed by the American Civil Liberties Union or its Chilean equivalent: He orders church bells to be rung to celebrate the amazing, truly miraculous rescue of 33 miners trapped underground for more than two months in his country's San Jose mine.

Pinera doesn't give endlessly long speeches that are packed with so many weightless, meaningless clichés that they rise out of sight and out of memory as soon as the worthless, empty words are uttered. When Sebastian Pinera simply says, “We are not the same Chile we were 69 days ago,” he brings tears to the eyes of millions of people far beyond the borders of his own admirable country.

In other words, Sebastian Pinera is not Barack Obama. Pinera is a real leader for the 21st century. He is a real man.

President Pinera did not sit back passively when the miners were trapped. He did not show his so-called, metrosexual, 21st century cool head and so-called “emotional balance” by showing no passion. He felt it and he showed it.

Pinera put his presidency on the line by committing himself publicly to make sure those miners were rescued come what may. How Rahm Emanuel must have laughed.

But did we get any leadership like that when BP (Yes – that’s BRITISH Petroleum, or maybe we should start calling them RUSSIAN Petroleum (RP) since they're investing so heavily in Siberia now) was choking the Gulf of Mexico with an unstoppable deep sea oil leak? The president of the United States you’ll recall, did nothing, absolutely nothing, for months except pout his mouth and grit his teeth – his usual substitute for any effective action on anything.

Obama didn't call in the best experts personally from around the world. He didn't put the vast resources of the United States government or assemble the unmatchable expertise of the U.S. oil industry, the best in the world, on the job. He just sat back passively and let RP -- sorry, BP – make things worse.

Barack Obama and his shameless acolytes like economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, The Washington Post's Richard Cohen and Newsweek's Jonathan Alter, have redefined democratic leadership as pious, whining, passive, dignified ineptitude. The only time Obama expresses any passion at all is when he’s whimpering about how all those big bad conservative talk show commentators are being so horrible to him.

The Chilean people in their democratically-expressed wisdom picked a brave and magnificent leader as their president. We got an empty suit who makes Jimmy Carter look like Rambo. Can we swap?

Martin Sieff is former Managing Editor, International Affairs, for United Press International. He is the author of “The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Middle East.”

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