Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 3, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

OUR CEO PRESIDENT....Writing about the deteriorating situation in Iraq, neocon Robert Kagan has this to say at the end of a column in the Washington Post Sunday:

Bush himself is the great mystery in this mounting debacle. His commitment to stay the course in Iraq seems utterly genuine. Yet he continues to tolerate policymakers, military advisers and a dysfunctional policymaking apparatus that are making the achievement of his goals less and less likely. He does not seem to demand better answers, or any answers, from those who serve him. It's not even clear that he understands how bad the situation in Iraq is or how close he is to losing public support for the war, a support that once lost may be impossible to regain.

I'm mystified that Kagan is mystified. Of course Bush's commitment is genuine but so is my commitment to losing 20 pounds. The problem is that I'm not willing to make the sacrifices it would take to do it.

Bush styles himself a "CEO president," but the world is full to bursting with CEOs who have goals they would dearly love to attain but who lack either the skill or the fortitude to make them happen. They assign tasks to subordinates without making sure the subordinates are capable of doing them but then consider the job done anyway because they've "delegated" it. They insist they want a realistic plan, but they're unwilling to do the hard work of creating one all those market research reports are just a bunch of ivory tower nonsense anyway. They work hard but only on subjects in their comfort zone. If they like dealing with people they can't bring themselves to read all those tedious analyst's reports, and if they like numbers they can't bring themselves to spend time chattering with distributors about their latest prospect.

And most important of all, weak CEOs are unwilling to recognize bad news and perform unpleasant tasks to fix it tasks like like confronting poorly performing subordinates or firing people. Good CEOs suck in their guts and do it anyway.

George Bush is, fundamentally, a mediocre CEO, the kind of insulated leader who's convinced that his instincts are all he needs. Unfortunately, like many failed CEOs before him, he's about to learn that being sure you're right isn't the same thing as actually being right.

So sure: George Bush is genuinely committed to winning in Iraq. He just doesn't know how to do it and doesn't have the skills, experience, or personality to look beyond his own instincts in order to figure it out. America is about to pay a heavy price for that.

Kevin Drum 1:13 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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