Wednesday, July 28, 2004

previous entry | main | next entry | TrackBack (1)

This won't tip me off the fence -- but it does make me hungry

Jacob M. Schlesinger has a front-pager in the Wall Street Journal on ther contrasting management styles of John F. Kerry and George W. Bush (subscription required). The article is really all about Kerry's decision-making style, both pro and con.

Not much of note, except for this section where methinks Kerry doth protest too much about being more than just a legislator:

Mr. Kerry bristles at unfavorable comparisons to Mr. Bush's management experience. "I think I have far more executive leadership than this president," he says, referring to his stint in Vietnam "leading men into and out of war."

Mr. Kerry touts his other management experience as well. In Massachusetts, he briefly helped run the Middlesex County district attorney's office -- "one of the 10 largest district attorney's offices in America," he notes. Mr. Kerry also said that over the past year he has "put together a multimillion-dollar campaign operation," that has generated revenue, in the form of campaign donations, of more than $200 million, a record for his party. The campaign currently employs several hundred people. At times he also has pointed to his late 1970s foray into the private sector, when he cofounded a small Boston cookie shop. (emphasis added)

Whoa -- he started a cookie store? That tips the scales for me!!

Actually, if the cookie shop in question was Rosie's Bakery, that would be persuasive evidence for Kerry (this is where Erika and I got our wedding cake made). Convention bloggers, be sure to check it out!! Or, you can order online.

Seriously, here's some poll results from the Annenberg Public Policy Center on where Bush and Kerry stand on the leadership question:


UPDATE: Hmmm... Brad DeLong has thoughts on the story, but mysteriously omits any reference to cookie shops.

Somewhat more seriously, Janet Hook, Mary Curtius and Greg Miller have a blow-by-blow account of Kerry's decision-making process in the votes on Iraq in the Los Angeles Times.

posted by Dan on 07.28.04 at 03:18 PM


So wait - you're saying that Bush's management style - about which we know a hell of a lot - could make you more likely to vote for Bush? Haven't many of Bush's problems over the last 3.5 years been traced pretty conclusively back to a hopelessly removed management style that can't even cajole his State and Defense departments to cooperate?

Are you seriously suggesting that you fear Kerry's management style, which is frankly an unknown, will be worse than Bush's???

posted by: sebastien on 07.28.04 at 03:18 PM [permalink]

The only thing Dan is seriously suggesting is that even the most incompetent administration in his lifetime only makes him think about giving them the boot. I'm tired of this. For someone so smart to diddle so much over so stark a contrast is insulting to his readers.

posted by: elliottg on 07.28.04 at 03:18 PM [permalink]

You talk about trying to make up your mind.

From the point of view who thinks the Bush
slogan should be

I am interested in hearing what a trained,
objective economist would find attractive about him.

posted by: SPENCER on 07.28.04 at 03:18 PM [permalink]

Since trade is your major issue, it seems, does this help you off the fence at all?

posted by: Aaron on 07.28.04 at 03:18 PM [permalink]

Look, you impatient Demos. Please understand that in Kerry, you have someone with the grace and charm of Bob Dole, without the sense of humor. The fact that he seems intelligent and competent (and our current one acts like he is neither) is enough for me to pull the kerry lever. But just because I'm at the point where another warm body feels like it would do, does not mean that kerry is a compelling a candidate.

The Demos have nominated a lemon. To me, that's better than a rotten apple. But it doesn't mean I'm not going to wince as I swollow it.

posted by: Appalled Moderate on 07.28.04 at 03:18 PM [permalink]

I know small business is Pure Comedy Gold, so let's all have a well deserved laugh at John Kerry. He was only more successful than George Bush at turning a venture he had no familial backing in into a firm that's still in existance. Meanwhile, Arbusto did as it sounds and Bush's tenure at Carlyle Group was undistinguished. It's probably piling on to also mention Sammy Sosa, so I'll give GWB credit for "The Ballpark at Arlington." It did look pretty nice in that Dennis Quaid movie.

posted by: SamAm on 07.28.04 at 03:18 PM [permalink]

Now, SamAm, you're being unkind. Bush did have the good sense to get rid of that no -account Sammy Sosa character.

posted by: praktike on 07.28.04 at 03:18 PM [permalink]

Not all of us have a big Sugar Daddy or big friends willing to donate us millions of dollars to bail out failed business ventures. Some of us have to settle for small shops.

posted by: erg on 07.28.04 at 03:18 PM [permalink]

appalled -

I'm completely aware that the conventional wisdom is that Kerry is a lemon who's only in the race because Bush is so bad, but for every 20 times I hear that, I get about one explanation and it usually has to do with his 'flip-flopping', which I think (based on the few concrete examples I've heard) is little more than a meaningless GOP talking point. This is just another example of a comfortable narrative that the press and punditry are loathe to leave behind (and for some reason, the bloggers jumped right in bed with them this time).

Kerry's life really stands up to a fair amount of scrutiny when it comes to judging his character and judgement, from what I can see. The people who served under him adore him and testify to his courage. He's worked hard his entire life, when he could have 'pulled a Bush,' but yet he's so easily dismissed by so many as 'barely better than Bush.'

Out of curiousity, which far superior Democrat did you pull for in the primary? Let me guess - you didn't really like any of them. They all had flaws. They were all imperfect. No one quite stands up to that image you've got in your mind of the perfect politician, who looks (when you're honest with yourself) an awful lot like you.

posted by: sebastien on 07.28.04 at 03:18 PM [permalink]

Kerry has his work cut out if he rates so badly in the "Changes mind for political reasons" category, especially considering that Bush:

- was against nation building; then later for it.
- was against a Homeland Security department; then later was for it.
- was against U.N. involvement in Iraq, then later was for it.
- was against tariffs; then later passes tariffs to protect PA steel; then even later stops them again.
- was against a 9/11 commission; then later was for it.
- was against Condi Rice testifying to the commission, then later was for it.
- was against negotiating with North Korea, then later was for it.
- was against intervening in the CA "dereg" energy crises, then later was for it (but too late).
- was for money for AmeriCorps, then later was against it.
- was for money for first responders (fire, police, emergency), then later was against it.
- was for reducing CO2 emissions, then later was against it.
- was for showing 9/11 coffins in his campaign ads, but against anyone else showing war coffins.
- said we needed tax cuts because of the surplus, then said we need them because of the recession.
- said the "mission accomplished" banner was put up by the sailors, then admitted it was his advance team.

Any evidence that these changes were made for political reasons? (I also have list of Kerry flips. Just shows me there's little difference.)

posted by: wishIwuz2 on 07.28.04 at 03:18 PM [permalink]


I am not a Democrat and did not give up on Bush until Abu Gharib. Most Democrats are going to seem pretty lemony to me. (Sorry.) As for politicians, I think they need to be rather more decisive than me. Kerry's "flip flops" don't trouble me that much, in face of the relentless uninformed stubborness we have now.

Kerry seems rather devoid of legislative accomplishments for 20 years in the senate, and ran a campaign was relentlessly negative and so often negative about the wrong stuff. He has some months to convince me he's something other than mediocre. He hasn't done it yet.

posted by: Appalled Moderate on 07.28.04 at 03:18 PM [permalink]

I'm sick of the mentality that Kerry automatically has the White House? Every poll I've seen has the two neck and neck. Also, we Kerry voters are doing a disservice by solely looking at our own group and not the other side (Bush-voters) despite all of the mess with Iraq there are millions wanting a second Bush presidency. They will be out there, not just staying at home.
Also, I find Kerry rather arrogant about leading people in and out of war...he was a SOLDIER in Vietnam...not General nor President and did he not lead us right into this mess now? so he should just can the military bkgd for a while or he'll start turning voters off.

posted by: Rachel on 07.28.04 at 03:18 PM [permalink]

Rachel - the polls are neck and neck, but there's a long tradition of undecideds breaking for the challenger. I'm not sure you aren't right anyway - there's a lot of danger in taking anything for granted.

I really disagree with your second point though - Kerry did lead men into battle and judging by the testimony of those men he did it well. That's certainly relevent to the question of Kerry's character and ability to lead.

What do you mean when you ask "did he not lead us right into this mess now?"

posted by: sebastien on 07.28.04 at 03:18 PM [permalink]

'Also, I find Kerry rather arrogant about leading people in and out of war...he was a SOLDIER in Vietnam...not General nor President '

JUdging by the quality of the Presidents and some of the Generals we had in Vietnam, I say 'Thank God'. He did lead his own men as a PT-Boat commander.

'No one quite stands up to that image you've got in your mind of the perfect politician, who looks (when you're honest with yourself) an awful lot like you.'

Thats a great line !!

posted by: Jon Juzlak on 07.28.04 at 03:18 PM [permalink]

I find all this talk of "presidential leadership style" to be a complete waste of time. Presidents are elected by Big Money, and after the election will do what Big Money tells him to do. The president's "decision making style" will have absolutely diddly to do with decisions made in office.

posted by: Karlo on 07.28.04 at 03:18 PM [permalink]

Kerry wasn't even a manager or whip in the senate after 16 years let alone a leader in the senate. If the Dems didn't see it then, how do you now?

posted by: jamesbray on 07.28.04 at 03:18 PM [permalink]


Those who generally identify with Republicans, but who find Bush distasteful (and I count myself in here) should be MORE inclined to vote for a Democrat who is weak in the leadership department. That way, they don't get anything they want, and they make ideas that could otherwise be dangerous for thier populist appeal seem like only a kook could support them.

Case one, from my little 'l' libertarian perspective: the LP. They are clowns. No one is better at making limited government sound lunatic than the LP.

Case two, from the left: Incompetent leadership on socialized medicine was a great boon for those of us who think the idea is moronic. It poisoned the waters for years.

No offense, but it is silly for folks like sebastien to ask why a guy like Drezner doesn't want to vote for Kerry unless he has to. Dan seems to have hawkish and libertarian leanings, while Kerry and the Dems have none. The question is, is Bush bad enough to justify making a patently repulsive vote in the hopes that Kerry gets next to none of his ideological wishes while being better at the nonideological stuff like executing a reconstruction effort.

My $.02:

Ideology matters a lot. One bad idea that sneaks through could be a whammy. Check out Brad DeLong's site in the thread about What Dems Can't Do. The pressure against free trade in the Dem party is enormous. Even if they have the best economic team in the world, their constituents are demanding protection NOW. The Dems are going to be forced to choose between paying off their people with 'free' healthcare or by paying them off with big fat job protection. I don't know which would be worse.

I am currently Staying at Home and Crying myself, but a Kerry vote is not in the picture.

posted by: Jason Ligon on 07.28.04 at 03:18 PM [permalink]

'Ideology matters a lot. One bad idea that sneaks through could be a whammy'

That is why I will vote for Kerry. The bad idea on Kerry's watch could be some protectionism (which every President does at one time or other). The bad idea on Bush's watch could be following Michael Ledeen's idea to invade Iran [ which it may be added, should not be completely excluded, but should tbe the very last option on the table, not the first].

As for leadership -- what leadership experience did Bush have ? Some failed business ventures. with Daddy's friends helping him, and the weakest executive governorship in the country.

posted by: erg on 07.28.04 at 03:18 PM [permalink]

Just on a tactical level, Kerry's response is just terrible. It's defensive and an invitation to mockery -- the cookie shop? Trust me to manage the country because I manage this huge campaign?

Kerry's problem here is that he thinks he needs to answer the question being asked, which is basically, "what kind of guy are you?" He doesn't, not directly anyway. In this case, he needs to answer a different question, namely, "how do you think?" He has a lot more flexibility to answer this -- he can talk about the ways he would fix problems that Bush has not, and he can transition into discussions of substance any time he wants to.

The truth is, Kerry does not have a strong executive background. Most new Presidents don't. FDR's management style was barely controlled chaos rescued only by his vast personal charisma and the extraordinary talent around him; Nixon tried to run the executive branch without ever giving anyone an order face to face. Reagan simply ignored whole areas of his own administration. All of these Presidents nonetheless succeeded at getting many things done. The point is that a candidate needs to keep his eye on the ball -- the campaign is not about justifying your own past, it is about winning. If you have a weakness in your background, you need to talk about something else.

posted by: Zathras on 07.28.04 at 03:18 PM [permalink]

“I am not a Democrat and did not give up on Bush until Abu Gharib”

This line of reasoning makes no sense whatsoever. Never forget that the photos would probably have never been made public by the liberal media if a Democrat was residing in the White House. They enticed many Americans to overreact. An Abu Ghraib situation invaribly occurs in every single war recorded in human history. These events must be responded to in a mature and civilized manner. The Bush administartion has done this. What more should one expect?

posted by: David Thomson on 07.28.04 at 03:18 PM [permalink]

Kerry and his military leadership - He was in Vietnam for 4 months and then abandoned his men in the middle of his tour. No officer or leader should ever do this and yes I did serve for 21 years in the military.

Kerry and his government leadership - The only thing he has been in charge of or responsible for is his staff. Senators don't lead, they criticize the opposition or support the party in power. Sen Kerry has never been in a position of leadership in the senate or held a leadership position in government - city manager, mayor or govenor.

posted by: Mike Mainello on 07.28.04 at 03:18 PM [permalink]


Don't have time to deal with this in detail. But it's like. Rumsfeld=small force=inadeauate supervisory personnel=not enough support/supervision at Abu Gharib= torture.

Bush didn't oreder torture. But he's responsible for the policies that made it happen.

And remember, this is a final straw sort of thing. Endless spending and deficits and a sense that on WoT, Bush can't do much with overextended troops and allies he's pissed off. Plus the sense all Bush knows is to be stubborn.

posted by: Appalled Moderate on 07.28.04 at 03:18 PM [permalink]

Ughh. I'm surprised Kerry hasnt pointed to his directorial experience from dummying up his 'war footage' when he was in Vietnam.

The guy makes my skin crawl.

posted by: Mark Buehner on 07.28.04 at 03:18 PM [permalink]

For: Appalled Moderate
About your lemon comparison: I will take a lemon all the time. With a lemon one can make "mojito", a rotten apple - throw it away. By the way if you do not know what is "mojito" - a drink made out of Rum, fresh lemon, fresh mint, club soda served in a glass with crushed ice. Sounds good!!! So, my point:
I'll take Kerry (mojito)vs Bush (rotten apple)

posted by: Alicia on 07.28.04 at 03:18 PM [permalink]

"Not all of us have a big Sugar Daddy or big friends willing to donate us millions of dollars to bail out failed business ventures."

Kerry would know absolutely nothing about using family ties, married family ties, to acheive wealth, now would he?

posted by: Don on 07.28.04 at 03:18 PM [permalink]

Indeed; In financial terms, Bush has the least net worth of any of them.

Party of the little guy, my butt...

posted by: Bithead on 07.28.04 at 03:18 PM [permalink]

What, Kerry isn't listing his stint as Michael Dukakis' Lt. Governor? What a shock.

As for Kerry's judgment, I'll give him points for arguingg against assassinating pro-Vietnam War senators but what the heck was he doing in an organization where this could seriously come up as a topic of debate? His record on providing the tools for both military and intelligence to defend this country is, frankly, appalling and should be a serious black mark against the man in a time of war.

As I understand things, the large majority of men who served with him are against him for President. The next largest group won't say one way or another. That's pretty a pretty sad testimonial from your band of brothers.

There was a link up above regarding Kerry's trade record. Here's a quote:
"When people say, 'well, listen to what the Kerry campaign has said about trade in some of the primaries, we are concerned that Sen Kerry will move US away from trade integration.' To which I say, well, think about the issue of national campaigns in the US. Recognize that what might be said in one primary . . . is not an indicator of the future."

Basically, that translates down to you can't trust what he's said as he'll swap longstanding positions to get votes. If you have to ignore the rhetoric on trade as election rhetoric and look at the votes over his career, you should do the same for defense issues which makes Kerry unacceptable to anybody who cares about defending this nation.

That's highly damning evidence from a Kerry economic advisor.

No matter what, we need to get the best leader in office. A vacillating president in wartime isn't just someone who will lose opportunities. He's going to get excess people killed. We need the best leader we can have and in my book John Kerry doesn't cut it.

posted by: TM Lutas on 07.28.04 at 03:18 PM [permalink]

Rotton apples make for cider, don't they?

And Mojitos are made with limes; you're thinking lemonade.

posted by: h0mi on 07.28.04 at 03:18 PM [permalink]

Post a Comment:


Email Address:



Remember your info?