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Thursday, March 30, 2006

Leading By Polls

I've had about 10 "real" jobs in my life, including over 20 years in the Navy; one of the things that I've learned through all those jobs was how to recognize someone early on who was going to be a good manager and someone who was going to be a pain in the tail to work for or with.

One of the easiest ways I found to determine which category someone would fit into was how they made hard decisions. Anyone can make easy decisions, if everything in life was easy we'd all be great leaders and exceptional managers.

Tough decisions though, are where the (figurative) men are separated from the boys in leadership. I worked for over a dozen commanding officers in the Navy, all of them senior Captains (O-6). The four I considered "great Captains" had one trait in common, popularity was never a concern of their's. Strangely, those four were also the most popular of the group. The single trait that made 3 of the others wildly unpopular was being control freaks. They lived by the motto "My way or the highway".

What am I getting at with this? Well the Democratic party just released their long awaited "Security Plan" yesterday. One of the things that I noticed as I read about it in a few different papers was that one of the major ways they put this plan together was through polling.

I've never met a great leader, or even a fairly good one, who determined how to lead by conducting a survey and then picking the popular choice, or the most resonant buzz words. Yet that's how the Democrats have determined what should be in their security plan, and how they should word it.

One of the talking points they'll use this year before the election is eliminating terroristm by "combating the economic, social and political conditions that allow extremism to thrive." That sounds great, but exactly how do you do that? Well changing the social and political conditions in many of these countries would require a spreading of democratic prinicples. Which sounds an awful lot like what George Bush has been preaching for the last 5 years.

They've also reworded most of the John Murtha proposals for Iraq to sound less like "cut and run", but still remain essentially that. By "redeploying forces" and having a "significant transition in Iraq", they come to the same place they were, but with words that make it sound less like abandonment.

Their first point will become harder to achieve if they carry out their plans for Iraq. Why? Well when other countries see that things are tough, so we bolted out the door, they are going to be much less receptive to US thoughts on changing their countries way of doing things. They'll question if we'll stick with them through good and bad.

Do I think George Bush has done everything right in Iraq, or Afghanistan, or in the broader "war on terror"? No, I don't, however what I do think is that he's been willing to stick with what he believes is the best course for the long run, instead of the popular one for the short run.

When you take a long look back at history it's easy to find presidents who are remembered as failures. Normally they were the one's who followed the popular course of action, instead of the right one. They took the easy road, where they would encounter less resistance, and later the country got to pay for it.

Chris has more up on this at The Fix.
Black Five has nice rant about this also.

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Blogger ablur said...

Looks like you came to some of the same conclusions as I.
The stuff about energy independent really killed me though. I don't know if we could count all the ways the Democrats have torpedoed plans that would take steps in this very direction. A careful look at this issue alone will quickly help you sum the whole plan up as propaganda and pretty prose.

12:43 PM  
Blogger Crazy Politico said...

Hey, we can be energy independent, so long as we don't drill for more oil, use coal or nuclear, put up windmills where they disturb the views of the rich on Martha's Vineyard, build natural gas pipelines or LNG receiving terminals.

Other than that though, there aren't many restrictions.

6:29 PM  
Blogger shoprat said...

A good leader does listen to the ideas and opinions of his people, but then keeps his goal in mind and pursues what he knows has to be done. I have seen two types of stupid leaders: those who are like you described and those who won't listen to people who know what their talking about. (When I was in the Navy we called it ensignitis though not all ensigns had it and it usually disappeared in more senior officers.) I try to avoid being around both types.

8:01 PM  
Blogger Lone Pony said...

I totally agree with this: "changing the social and political conditions in many of these countries would require a spreading of democratic prinicples." But, how do you do that? Those people have to want it.

I watched a report that interviewed people in Iraq who said they felt more secure under Saddam. They weren't happy then and they aren't happy now (because they're still going through some hard times). I feel for them, but I wish they appreciated they freedom more.

I've heard the question, "does democracy have a shelf life?" We elect our leaders. (A popularity contest?) That scares me because I've seen more and more people that don't understand what sacrifice is. They have no vision and they'll vote for someone that promises them the world because they're pissed off about the high price of gasoline.

I've also heard that we get the leaders we deserve. I'm surrounded by people that I believe have a socialist phylosophy. That bothers me. I say it all the time, I think George Bush has been a great president. I'm the unpopular one around here.

4:59 AM  
Blogger Steven Tucker said...

Great post! I totally agree. My favorite bosses have always been concerned with doing the job right. However, while President Bush is decisive, he is not a good leader. Bush has failed to inform the public to any meaningful degree. It's like he doesn't care if the American people know what is going on or not. I'm happy with him making tough decisions, but he damn well better explain himself. That is my problem with his position on Immigration, how he has handled Iraq, his failure to stand up for the Dubai Ports Deal... and so forth. A good boss helps you to better understand what is going on, so that you can excel. (S)he gives you the tools you need to follow. Bush doesn’t seem to care if people follow, which has a damaging effect on his leadership ability. Like I said, it’s one thing to be able to make tough decisions, but it’s another not to be able to explain them. A good leader can rally support through demonstration and explanation. Think Ronald Reagan.

5:33 PM  
Blogger Crazy Politico said...

Steven you are right. Bush has allowed the other side to push the conversation with America, and is paying for it.

Reagan was definitely a better communicator than any other president during my lifetime (LBJ to present). That allowed him to do a lot of things that probably wouldn't have flown if either Bush had been in office.

8:25 PM  
Blogger Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

"Bush has allowed the other side to push the conversation with America, and is paying for it."

That's because the national discourse is dominated by the leftist MSM - they have created the playing field and the rules for the past 60 years. It's an uphill battle. Even Reagan, who was a brilliant communicator, could not succeed completely.

Excellent post.

4:34 PM  

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