Monday, August 27, 2007

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John Dickerson sums it up for me

In the wake of Alberto Gonzales' resignation, John Dickerson has a Slate column that nicely summarizes a big deficit in Bush's managerial style:

The personnel failures make it very hard for Bush fans to defend the president because they so deeply undermine the tenets of his management style as he articulates it. Bush has often talked in almost mystical terms about his ability to take the measure of people by looking them in the eye. His most infamous snap judgment, early in his first term, was peeking into the soul of Vladimir Putin and finding goodness. But even with years of presidential experience, he continues to make terrible judgments about the aptitudes of his own staffers. Harriet Miers and Alberto Gonzales may be very nice people, but they were never competent for the jobs Bush wanted them to have.

In talking about the skills necessary for any president, Bush has almost always focused on personnel first. "If I were interviewing a guy for the job of president," he said when I interviewed him for Time in August 2004, "I'd ask, How do you make decisions? How would you get unfiltered information? Would you surround yourself with hacks? Are you scared of smart people? I've seen the effect of the Oval Office on people. People are prepared to come in and speak their minds, and then they get in there, and the place overwhelms them, and they say, 'Gee, Mr. President, you're looking good.' I need people who can walk in and say, 'Hey, you're not looking so great today.' "

This kind of talk thrilled Bush supporters, but the president has never exercised the kind of emotion-free decision-making he bragged about. When it came to personnel decisions, his personal sense of loyalty, his hostility to the Beltway establishment, and his stubbornness all clouded his judgment. Tolerating incompetence has harmed Bush in any number of ways. The worst of these is locking in the idea that he's oblivious to reality.

This has undoubtedly been a key failing of Bush's managerial style. But it's hardly the only one.

posted by Dan on 08.27.07 at 02:20 PM


Alberto Gonzalez, one of the cabal who gave 'legal' cover for the gov't to constantly violate our rights:
They violate the 1st Amendment by opening mail, caging demonstrators and banning books like "America Deceived" from Amazon.
They violate the 2nd Amendment by confiscating guns during Katrina.
They violate the 4th Amendment by conducting warrant-less wiretaps.
They violate the 5th and 6th Amendment by suspending habeas corpus.
They violate the 8th Amendment by torturing.
They violate the entire Constitution by starting 2 illegal wars based on lies and on behalf of a foriegn gov't.
Support Dr. Ron Paul and end this madness.
Last link (unless Google Books caves to the gov't and drops the title):
America Deceived

posted by: Marty on 08.27.07 at 02:20 PM [permalink]

And it only seems like yesterday that this administration was being lauded as the most MBA heavy in history - the first president with an MBA!

From my experience in the topsy turvy real world of capitalism in the private sector, GW doesn't seem that atypical from a lot of MBA types I've worked with and for. They almost to a person have the same divergence between their image - i.e. an emotionless, analytical decision making machine - and the reality - i.e. heavily invested in their carefully manicured networks, basing decisions about things they cannot possibly comprehend on what the crop of sycophants that they have unconsciously accumulated whisper in their ears.

I don't think this is a failing of Bush so much as the religious like belief that conservatives put into the whole "running government like a business" mythos.

He's simply a product of his environment. Y'all should really own up to this crap... Facing failures rather than pawning them off on scapegoats is the only way to improve the system, after all.

Sloughing this off as merely Bush's failure seems like a rather blinkered and tragically limited view of reality.

But what the hey. It's not like this isn't a constant feature.

posted by: Hal on 08.27.07 at 02:20 PM [permalink]

These are criticisms from people who've done what?

posted by: Thomas Esmond Knox on 08.27.07 at 02:20 PM [permalink]


That's not really a rebuttal. "I'd like to see you be a better President" is hardly fit for anything outside the schoolyard.


posted by: Troll on 08.27.07 at 02:20 PM [permalink]

I'm with Hal, in my long experience the more elite the MBA...........

1) the bigger the ego
2) the lower the ethics
3) the lesser the talent

posted by: save_the_rustbelt on 08.27.07 at 02:20 PM [permalink]

John Dickerson writes "Donald Rumsfeld, Harriet Miers, and Michael Brown—animated failures who could not be controlled or improved with good public relations". In my opinion an administration that can "control" it's members or can use "public relations" to improve them are bigger failures than an administration that sticks by imperfect people acting in a time of crisis.

As for his choice of targets Rumsfeld and Gonzales made tough decisions to fight the war on terror. Both are intelligent and accomplished (Rumsfeld much more so) men. We can never prove if they were more right than wrong. Michael Brown was stuck with a giant mess not only from Katrina (a rare category 5 hurricane) but an infrastructure laid waste by local officials corruption and incompetence. Look at the post Brown FEMA--millions of dollars disappeared through fraud, corruption and incompetence. Harriet Meirs was not proven incompetent only that she did not have commonly acceptable qualifications for the supreme court.

This kind of critique is just part of the game of journalists versus politicians. Where the journalists always win because the journalists make up the rules. Good politicians play to win the real game.

What does "animated failure" mean anyway?

posted by: Tim H on 08.27.07 at 02:20 PM [permalink]


posted by: Zathras on 08.27.07 at 02:20 PM [permalink]

Let's keep in mind, shall we, that anyone capable of making that cretinous statement about Putin is capable of damn near any kind of irrational misjudgment?

posted by: Bruce Moomaw on 08.27.07 at 02:20 PM [permalink]

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