To Delegate, or Not To Delegate, That is the Question
In 1959, John F. Kennedy debated Richard M. Nixon on the relatively new
"space age" technology of television. That brought a change to the way
elections were conducted. Sadly, Senator Kennedy, young, charismatic and quite
photogenic, made mincemeat of the man who would be elected President in 1968, a
tumultuous year to say the best. The thing that Presidents Kennedy and Nixon had
in common was that they worked hard and were ever-aware of exactly what was
going on around them. An inspection of the paper and recorded legacy left by
each great man will reveal an incredible ability to be on top of many issues at
the same time.
Somewhere a while ago I read that scientific research had proven time and
time again that men think in a linear way; one item at a time. The same science
says that if one is looking for a multi-tasker, the sex of choice is female.
Well, Hillary Clinton has proven to be an exception to the rule. In fact, the
relatively liberal New York Times in a piece called "Sniping by Aides
Hurts Clinton's Image As Manager," dated today, quotes Professor James A.
Thurber, an expert on presidential campaigning, as saying that she suffers from
the same deficits in management skills as many Senators on their first
Presidential run; the complexity of the management of a Presidential campaign is
a tremendous thing to handle, no matter how "inside" Washington may be. I find
this ironic in light of the fact that early arguments by the Clinton campaign
cited Senator Obama's "lack of experience" as another reason to
vote for Senator Clinton.
Times reporters Adam Nagourney, Patrick Healy and Kate Zernike concede
that recently Senator Clinton's been more personally involved in her campaign.
Nonetheless they had this to say about the Clinton machine:
Still, interviews with campaign aides, associates and friends
suggest that Mrs. Clinton, at least until February, was a detached manager.
Juggling the demands of being a candidate, she paid little attention to
detail, delegated decisions large and small and deferred to advisers on
critical questions. Mrs. Clinton accepted — or seemed unaware of — the
intense factionalism and feuding that often paralyzed her campaign and that
prevented her aides from reaching consensus on basic questions like what
states to fight in and how to go after Mr. Obama, of Illinois.
I'll repeat the key phrase hereinabove: "She paid little attention to
detail." There's an old management adage: "take good care of the big things and
the little things will take care of themselves." That works fine when managing a
department, a division, a brand. But take a look at the most successful CEOs and
you'll find someone who, while eschewing micromanagement, can pull aside,
let's say, a division manager, and ask them a question about a critical piece of
data. The division manager must refer to a subordinate, a file, or at least a
PDA to find the answer. The CEO knows the answer.
Hillary Rodham Clinton is in the precarious position of having to sell
herself to the American people. A run for the Presidency can arguably called
the toughest job interview in the world. Believe me, would that I were even
qualified, I would not want to be in her shoes (nor Senator
McCain's nor Senator Obama's) for all the riches in the world. In fact, the
easiest Presidential win in recent history, ostensibly, was that of Jimmy
Carter over any Republican after the mess Nixon had made for the party
prior to his resignation. The Democrat party could've offered up a Democrat who
was Superintendent of Schools in a town of 2,000 persons and that person would have been
elected — in 1976.
It Ain't Easy At The Top
It's never nice when a President goes down in history for making mistakes.
Heck, there are plenty of people who'd argue that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt committed one of the more heinous
violations of the letter and intent of The U.S. Constitution by setting up Social Security. Nixon resigned;
an incredible loss of face for The United States on a global level. If, however,
he'd have been impeached the cost to the nation's morale and the country's
leadership role on an international level would have been incalculable. President Clinton defiled the office of the President of the United
States in a way it had not been defiled before (granted, he didn't have the
fierce loyalty surrounding him that Jack Kennedy did when he enjoyed his trysts
with Marilyn Monroe). Does that say something about Clinton's moral fiber,
something about his inability to surround himself with loyalists and prevent a
leak, or does it merely reflect the post-Watergate tendency of Presidential
servants to fail at being patriotic protectors of the President (and, when the President trips up, the nation's image)?
Ronald Reagan said that George Schultz told him just after Reagan was nominated, "Mr. President, I'll be with you through thick." The newly-inaugurated Reagan queried "what about thin?" Schultz replied, "welcome to Washington, sir." Reagan took that advice wisely and exploited it, protecting himself during the Iran-Contra hearings with the now-famous ""I don't recall.""
The most troubling part of that is a serious matter. He may have been telling the truth; there are those conspiracy theorists who say that the President's Alzheimer's disease was affecting him as early as that time. If it was, the nation knew nothing of it at the time. One can only think of what Nancy must've been thinking might happen. But then, I never liked Nancy Reagan that much at all.
Looking back at all of these Presidential transgressions, there is nothing
that even remotely approaches the comedy of errors we call the administration of
President Bush. Now, he indeed was faced with the first act of
war committed on the continental United States in the history of this great
country. He hadn't the luxury of a single, tangible enemy state that President Truman did; therefore punishment could not be swiftly and
accurately meted out. But what else can I say? I could go on and on and on but
I'll end my argument for Bush being at the bottom of the Presidential barrel
with two words: "Iraq" and "Deficit."
President George W. Bush paid little attention to detail. In fact, sadly, he
paid little attention to anything of import. His feeble last-ditch efforts to go
down in history as a great President are ridiculous. It epitomizes everything
that's shady, slimy and bad about Bush's brand of Republicanism that he's
passing out "incentive checks" which will "revitalize the economy." Sure, throw
money at something and it'll just be okay. But we can't blame him; his dad
bailed him out in his youth when he got nabbed for driving while under the
influence of alcohol. The message he got so many years ago from his male role model is "money talks." Why not try it now; with the taxpayers' money?
The Obama campaign has renewed the faith of many Americans in the inherent
good of our system of elections. Now, it doesn't matter who wins the election.
The involvement of each and every American in government will be necessary. We
can model that on the way Senator Obama is running his campaign; getting people
of all political beliefs and walks of life to talk to one another, come
up with ideas. If necessary, agree to disagree.
This nation is currently descending the first few feet of a miles-deep
economic chasm. The most optimistic economic minds are telling anyone who'll
listen that it's going to be at least the 2nd Quarter of 2009 before we begin to
enjoy anything remotely resembling confidence in the economy. The President
isn't the only one who can rectify this situation. It is the responsibility of
every citizen of this country to help to raise the consciousness of their
representatives on the Federal and State levels. This means writing letters,
sending emails (although letters are more unwieldy and demonstrate a more
significant amount of effort and expense; they're also harder to ignore). All
one need write is a phrase given to us by the character Howard Beale in the
memorable film Network:
I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!