Obama, Dems failing to learn from mistakes
by Melvyn L Fein
June 23, 2014 12:45 AM | 1578 views | 4 4 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
My father was from the old school. He insisted that whatever I did, I had to get it right from the outset. If I made a mistake, however minor, he would land on me like a ton of bricks. This was evidence of my incompetence and, therefore, unacceptable.

My father also insisted that I learn from his mistakes. Because he had experience, whereas I did not, I was to benefit from his example. When he gave me advice based on his years of living, I was to accept it and put it into immediate action.

Naturally, this rankled. Like most young persons, I wanted to control my own destiny. I was not my father, and hence, I wanted to find my own way. Nonetheless, he was my father, and there was a price to pay for defying him.

It therefore took me years to put his demands in perspective. Initially, I became risk averse. If mistakes confirmed my ineptitude, the best way to protect my self-image was to avoid anything new. The tried and true path was the one with which I was acquainted — the one where I recognized the pitfalls.

Eventually, I realized this was a prescription for failure. People who do not venture into unfamiliar territory become their own jailors. They never do things worthy of admiration because they keep themselves from accomplishing anything notable.

In time, I came to understand that the problem was not making mistakes, but failing to learn from them. While it was true mistakes are to be shunned if possible, this is not always feasible. Exercising foresight and caution makes sense; nevertheless, previously untried activities almost invariably hold surprises.

I also came to appreciate that although it is difficult to admit failures, I couldn’t correct them if I did not. While it was not always necessary to advertise these to strangers, it was not a good idea to fool myself. This only blinded me to what needed to be done.

Today, I offer this advice to my students as they struggle to absorb new materials. I want them to realize that we grow when we allow ourselves to expand our horizons. We likewise become more successful when we incorporate the lessons of our missteps.

So why does Barack Obama not know this? He isn’t a child and has had many years of advanced education. He has also been president for almost six years where he has been privy to information available to few others. Moreover, the best advice from the most accomplished experts is at his beck and call.

So why hasn’t he learned? That a neophyte president would make mistakes was predictable. After all, the problems he faces are immense and often one of a kind. But when shovel-ready projects did not turn out to be shovel-ready, why didn’t he make the pivot he proclaimed?

And when relations with Russia soured and the Iranians failed to respond to his blandishments, why didn’t he modify his policies? Couldn’t he, like George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter, do a course correction? He didn’t have to engage in a public mea culpa. All that was necessary was to learn from his experience.

But neither has the Democratic Party learned. ObamaCare is exploding before our eyes, the VA is a basket case and we recently traded five enemy leaders for a single deserter, but for them, it is business as usual. Most Democrats, certainly the leadership, reflexively endorse whatever the president does.

Elected officials, and the party rank and file, may believe that in doing so they are protecting their long-term interests. They are mistaken. So was Charley Wilson. This former president of General Motors once erroneously told us that what was good for the country was good for General Motors — and vice versa.

Democrats should take note. What is good for the nation is good for them, but not necessarily the other way around. They need to learn their first duty is to help their country — or they too will be in trouble.

Melvyn L. Fein Ph.D. is professor of sociology at Kennesaw State University.
Comments-icon Post a Comment
East Cobb Senior
June 24, 2014
Isn't it interesting that Kevin Foley, the court jester of the Cobb County Democrat Party and ultra-left wing liberal nincompoop, always has idiotic rebuttals to Dr. Fein's well reasoned columns. The antithesis is true for Dr. Fein, who does not comment on Foley's column. Not difficult to understand why, the nincompoop Foley spews lies, half truths, skewed facts, personal attacks and character assassination along with

Obama's Democrat talking points as the basis for his stupid, idiotic left wing ranting columns. Since it is impossible to place any credibility on ANYTHING Foley says or writes it fits the old adage "Garbage In Garbage Out".
Kevin Foley
June 24, 2014
East Cobb Senior (whom I suspect is Dr. Fein) shows himself/herself to be the perfect know-nothing. Fein offers no evidence to support jaw dropping statements like "Obamacare is exploding" but ECS takes it at face value anyway. Get those meds adjusted Senior...whoever you are.

Anytime Fein wants to weigh in on one of my columns, have at it.
Kevin Foley
June 23, 2014
A lecture about learning from one's mistakes by a conservative is a hoot.

After the lambasting they got in 2012, what did the GOP learn by alienating Hispanics and Latinos, women, gays, blacks and everyone else not white and privileged? Nothing.

Then there's Dr. Fein's uninformed commentary on Russia and Iran, both of which have been backed down by Obama's strategy of diplomacy and economic sanctions.

I invited reactionaries like Dr. Fein to tell us how we should specifically proceed in the world's hot spots. Who should we attack, who should we bomb, what cost in lives and treasure should we pay?

what the
June 23, 2014
"People who do not venture into unfamiliar territory often become their own jailers.

They never do anything worthy of admiration because they keep themselves from accomplishing anything notable". Congratulations Dr. Fein for the worlds best description of the Republican Party. Since Hoover and Harding they have had only three ideas.

Step 1. Cut taxes Step 2. cut regulations Step 3. If that doesn't work return to step 1. Civil Rights, Voting Rights, Social Security, Medicare, Affordable Care Act, a living wage, fair labor laws anything that would help the average American Republicans have violently opposed in favor of their wealthy benefactors.
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