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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-06-2008, 08:18 AM Thread Starter
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Delamide: Executive Experience Does Not A Leader Make

Bear, it took a couple of days for someone else to make the "Palin has more experience than McCain" argument, but it did happen. I guess you can claim your degree now.

'Executive experience' does not a leader make - MarketWatch
DARRELL DELAMAIDE'S POLITICAL CAPITAL
'Executive experience' does not a leader make
Commentary: What we really need in a president

By Darrell Delamaide
Last update: 11:08 a.m. EDT Sept. 5, 2008

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- There's been a lot of talk during the two political conventions about the experience of the presidential and vice presidential nominees, and particularly about their "executive" experience.
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, we are told, has "more experience" than Sens. Barack Obama and Joe Biden combined -- meaning more "executive" experience -- because she has actually run a state government for 20-some months.

Of course, by that measure, she has more experience than Sen. John McCain not to mention the Democratic ticket, and perhaps she should be on the top of the Republican ticket rather than the running mate.

The conventional wisdom -- no pun intended -- seems to be that governors make better presidential candidates than lawmakers because they do have this fabled executive experience -- balancing a budget, managing a bureaucracy, working with a legislature, and so on.

During the convention coverage, one of the cable networks kept scrawling as news that only two sitting legislators -- Warren Harding and John Kennedy -- were elected president in the past century. This year, of course, will see a third, since both candidates are U.S. senators.

But this factoid is misleading, because a number of our presidents became so via the vice presidency after a largely legislative career -- Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford. Being vice president doesn't add any appreciable "executive" experience.

What we look for in a president, in fact, is not necessarily executive experience, but leadership. Successful business executives generally will also be great leaders as well as good managers -- think of Jack Welch, the longtime CEO of General Electric.

But there are many roles for great leaders other than just managing a business, or a state government or a small town. Think Rev. Martin Luther King or Sen. Ted Kennedy.

Management expertise isn't the decisive quality we look for in a president. Among the 2008 field, Mitt Romney clearly had the most management experience, but that didn't win him many GOP primaries or earn him a place on the ticket. George W. Bush, remember, was going to be our MBA president.

The leadership test

We've had many governors run for president. Some have won, some have lost. Those who won have been good or not so good.

What set apart the distinguished ones such as Franklin Roosevelt or Ronald Reagan was not their executive experience as governors, but their terrific leadership qualities. Leadership means the ability to inspire, to motivate, to articulate the hopes and aspirations of a community or a nation.

John Kennedy took the world by storm because of his leadership abilities, even though he was just a rich kid with an indifferent record as a legislator in the House and Senate. Historians can't properly assess his success as a president because his term was tragically cut short.

Obama has been hailed as a new John Kennedy, by Teddy Kennedy and by others, because of this same charisma. It is a much rarer quality, and a much more important quality for a president, than the executive experience of getting a hockey rink built in an Alaskan suburb.

Palin may have leadership qualities that would make her a successful vice president or even president; it's too early to tell.

What is clear is that after his long career in the Senate and his hard-fought victory in this year's primaries McCain does have those qualities and deserves his place at the top of the ticket, even though he has less "executive" experience than his running mate.

There are, of course, many other former prisoners of war, community organizers and small-town mayors who haven't risen to national prominence as political leaders. It's not the experience that makes the successful leader, it's how that leader is able to transform his or her formative experiences into an ability to inspire and motivate others.

It's often said that the presidential campaign itself is the best test to determine who will make a good president: The grueling contest requires the stamina, judgment, and strength of character that the office itself requires. Obama has stood that test well, managing a brilliant, multimillion-dollar national campaign that rolled over his primary opponents.

But in the end, we're not going to elect someone president because they ran a great campaign.

Sen. Hillary Clinton would have made a strong candidate for president even though mismanagement of her campaign may have cost her the nomination. Similarly, McCain battled his way through to the nomination in spite of his ineptness at running a campaign.

We're going to elect one of these two senators -- Obama or McCain -- because of their stands on the issues and their leadership qualities. The rest, to quote McCain's dismissal of protesters during his acceptance speech Thursday, is just ground noise and static.
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-06-2008, 08:41 AM
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-06-2008, 09:42 AM
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DARRELL DELAMAIDE'S POLITICAL CAPITAL
'Executive experience' does not a leader make
Commentary: What we really need in a president

Good article! The assumption most people make is that a manager is some sort of a leader. They are different roles and few people can do either equally well. The managers role is to "make sure things are done right." This means consistency, standards, rules, etc. A leader, on the other hand "makes sure the right things are done." This is a human condition few ever achieve. I look to leaders to stay above the necessary daily details. The government has plenty of managers and we shouldn't consider management experience as a requisite for choosing a president.
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-06-2008, 09:43 AM
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^ Very nicely put.

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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-06-2008, 09:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GermanStar View Post
^ Very nicely put.
Yes, quite . . .

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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-06-2008, 09:59 AM
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Agreed, good concepts, not new, but good. And ones that a governor must observe when she runs for election, just like a presidential candidate. Vision and a plan to get there.

A senator has the opportunity to lay out his national vision by his actions as a legislator for all in the country to see. For example, Obama, the candidate of "change", while a senator, has shown us his vision of change--by voting with the Democrats 97% of the time.

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God Bless the America we're trying to create.
--Hillary Rodham Clinton
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