Kerry, the executive

John F. Kerry has already demonstrated a frightening level of incompetence as an executive. Regardless of any agreement or disagreement American voters may have with him on the issues, his demonstrated inability to handle the complexities of a presidential campaign ought to preclude voting for him. For those of a leftist bent, Ralph Nader at least has a track record of managing a complex network of non—profit organizations, while also building a substantial personal investment portfolio, without benefit of marriage to even a single heiress.

Unlike George W. Bush, John F. Kerry never ran any organization bigger than a Senatorial staff. While Bush received high—level postgraduate training in management at Harvard Business School, Kerry attended Boston College Law School, where executive skills are not prominently on the curriculum. While Bush was running a Major League Baseball team, and then the Great State of Texas, Kerry was skipping most of his committee meetings, and taking a leading role in the Senate on precisely no significant legislation. Kerry doesn't even have to take a role in managing his household: Teresa pays for a butler to do that.

A presidential campaign, however, is a major enterprise, with a nine figure budget. Supplemented by the efforts of vast number of unpaid volunteers, sympathizers and collateral allied organizations ranging form a party structure to unions to the ostensibly 'uncoordinated' 527 groups, a campaign must deal with a vast array of competing interests, and focus diverse people on a single goal. It is a formidable task, albeit much simpler than running the behemoth of the federal government in a time of war.

Kerry has done a spectacularly bad job of running his campaign. After his defeat, we can look forward to a spate of books by insiders blaming the chaos on others, so we will eventually have first hand accounts. It will become a classic case study. But in the interim, we have only thinly—sourced press accounts to rely upon. Nevertheless, certain errors are glaring enough that we can already see them clearly.

Kerry has made several fundamental mistakes that a well—trained or experienced manager would avoid:

He has created no consistent vision
Along with flip—flopping on the issues, Kerry has flip—flopped on campaign strategies. Is he signaling that his campaigners are to take the high road, and argue that he can do a better job of running the government and the war? Or is he signaling that they are to take the low road, and argue that Bush is incompetent, corrupt, a coward, or a Kitty Kellyesque monster? Is he running on his Vietnam warrior experience, or on his superior ability to mobilized support from allies, both coerced and bribed, and un—coerced and un—bribed?

Fundamentally, why does he want to be President?  The fact that there is no one—sentence answer to this basic question leaves his vast army of paid and volunteer staff rudderless.

He has avoided hard personnel decisions
Mary Beth Cahill replaced Jim Jordan, Kerry's original campaign manager, in November, 2003. So far, so good. His campaign was going nowhere, and Cahill got the job done, or at least avoided torpedoing the campaign while Howard Dean self—destructed. But since he became the favorite to win the nomination, Kerry has not backed—up Cahill with the requisite support and authority to bring consistency and order to the ever—expanding universe of individuals acting in his behalf.

Ms. Cahill is now all but universally acknowledged to be effectively fired. Except that she hasn't been fired. Perhaps because she has two x chromosomes, and Kerry fears criticism from the feminist camp. So, she is among the walking dead. And as any horror movie fan can tell you, the walking dead are capable of creating lots of trouble, especially as the midnight hour (November 2nd) nears.

He has not established clear lines of authority and communications
Mary Beth Cahill was once chief of staff for Senator Edward M. Kennedy. Robert Shrum, who has emerged as another major figure in the campaign, is likewise an old Boston brain—truster. But a phalanx of Clintonistas has also joined the campaign, many of them in vaguely—described and reportedly unpaid roles. Who's in charge here? Nobody knows. Even worse, this situation is leading to an even more serious problem:

He has allowed factionalism to emerge and solidify
Mike McCurry, Paul Begala, James Carville, and others now reportedly occupy desks at one end of campaign headquarters in Washington, DC, while the Kennedy cohort occupies desks at he other end of the layout. This is a disaster in the making. It is one thing for an executive to hear a variety of viewpoints and have advisors of different assumptions and inclinations. That can enhance decision—making. But to have factions of old associates, physically isolated from one another and therefore free to plot among themselves, exercising undefined authority is a prescription for chaos.

He has made poor use of his allies
Black political leaders have been left out to the point that Jesse Jackson complained that the latest staff changes were a 'vanilla shake—up.' Apparently, his characteristically colorful complaint got some attention, because Kerry has begun to go into full pander mode toward the black vote, and has announced plans to spend more money advertising in black media. But there are only seven weeks to energize black turnout, and given his lack of inherent appeal to blacks, as a haughty and wealthy New Englander, he may not enjoy the customary turnout and margin of support among blacks.

Evan Thomas of Newsweek famously predicted that the MSM's support for Kerry was worth 15 percentage points of the vote. Yet Kerry has begun to alienate the press. He promised monthly press conferences, but has not had one since July. He rarely mixes with the press corps on his campaign plane. The MSMers may still hate Bush, but they are having a hard time warming up to Kerry.

He has displayed obvious, potentially fatal naivete
In allowing devoted followers of Bill Clinton to occupy important space in his campaign, he has created the appearance of a na´ve simpleton. There has been ample public speculation that Hillary Clinton plans a run for the Democratic nomination in 2008, a prospect which would be obviated by a successful Kerry—for—President campaign. There is thus sufficient cause to at least question the motivations of people he has allowed to staff his organization.

A President is called—upon to navigate the difficult waters of international diplomacy. Duplicity and treachery are the expected and normal mode of statecraft. Installing allies with dual loyalties into roles critical to success is a fundamental error, usually made only by beginners. In time of war, such obvious indifference to the risks of betrayal could be fatal.

The American people are necessarily coming to the inevitable conclusion that John F. Kerry is unqualified to run an organization as complex as the federal government in a time of national peril.

Thomas Lifson, the editor and publisher of The American Thinker, formerly taught at Harvard Business School, from which he received an MBA degree, awarded "with high distinction"

John F. Kerry has already demonstrated a frightening level of incompetence as an executive. Regardless of any agreement or disagreement American voters may have with him on the issues, his demonstrated inability to handle the complexities of a presidential campaign ought to preclude voting for him. For those of a leftist bent, Ralph Nader at least has a track record of managing a complex network of non—profit organizations, while also building a substantial personal investment portfolio, without benefit of marriage to even a single heiress.

Unlike George W. Bush, John F. Kerry never ran any organization bigger than a Senatorial staff. While Bush received high—level postgraduate training in management at Harvard Business School, Kerry attended Boston College Law School, where executive skills are not prominently on the curriculum. While Bush was running a Major League Baseball team, and then the Great State of Texas, Kerry was skipping most of his committee meetings, and taking a leading role in the Senate on precisely no significant legislation. Kerry doesn't even have to take a role in managing his household: Teresa pays for a butler to do that.

A presidential campaign, however, is a major enterprise, with a nine figure budget. Supplemented by the efforts of vast number of unpaid volunteers, sympathizers and collateral allied organizations ranging form a party structure to unions to the ostensibly 'uncoordinated' 527 groups, a campaign must deal with a vast array of competing interests, and focus diverse people on a single goal. It is a formidable task, albeit much simpler than running the behemoth of the federal government in a time of war.

Kerry has done a spectacularly bad job of running his campaign. After his defeat, we can look forward to a spate of books by insiders blaming the chaos on others, so we will eventually have first hand accounts. It will become a classic case study. But in the interim, we have only thinly—sourced press accounts to rely upon. Nevertheless, certain errors are glaring enough that we can already see them clearly.

Kerry has made several fundamental mistakes that a well—trained or experienced manager would avoid:

He has created no consistent vision
Along with flip—flopping on the issues, Kerry has flip—flopped on campaign strategies. Is he signaling that his campaigners are to take the high road, and argue that he can do a better job of running the government and the war? Or is he signaling that they are to take the low road, and argue that Bush is incompetent, corrupt, a coward, or a Kitty Kellyesque monster? Is he running on his Vietnam warrior experience, or on his superior ability to mobilized support from allies, both coerced and bribed, and un—coerced and un—bribed?

Fundamentally, why does he want to be President?  The fact that there is no one—sentence answer to this basic question leaves his vast army of paid and volunteer staff rudderless.

He has avoided hard personnel decisions
Mary Beth Cahill replaced Jim Jordan, Kerry's original campaign manager, in November, 2003. So far, so good. His campaign was going nowhere, and Cahill got the job done, or at least avoided torpedoing the campaign while Howard Dean self—destructed. But since he became the favorite to win the nomination, Kerry has not backed—up Cahill with the requisite support and authority to bring consistency and order to the ever—expanding universe of individuals acting in his behalf.

Ms. Cahill is now all but universally acknowledged to be effectively fired. Except that she hasn't been fired. Perhaps because she has two x chromosomes, and Kerry fears criticism from the feminist camp. So, she is among the walking dead. And as any horror movie fan can tell you, the walking dead are capable of creating lots of trouble, especially as the midnight hour (November 2nd) nears.

He has not established clear lines of authority and communications
Mary Beth Cahill was once chief of staff for Senator Edward M. Kennedy. Robert Shrum, who has emerged as another major figure in the campaign, is likewise an old Boston brain—truster. But a phalanx of Clintonistas has also joined the campaign, many of them in vaguely—described and reportedly unpaid roles. Who's in charge here? Nobody knows. Even worse, this situation is leading to an even more serious problem:

He has allowed factionalism to emerge and solidify
Mike McCurry, Paul Begala, James Carville, and others now reportedly occupy desks at one end of campaign headquarters in Washington, DC, while the Kennedy cohort occupies desks at he other end of the layout. This is a disaster in the making. It is one thing for an executive to hear a variety of viewpoints and have advisors of different assumptions and inclinations. That can enhance decision—making. But to have factions of old associates, physically isolated from one another and therefore free to plot among themselves, exercising undefined authority is a prescription for chaos.

He has made poor use of his allies
Black political leaders have been left out to the point that Jesse Jackson complained that the latest staff changes were a 'vanilla shake—up.' Apparently, his characteristically colorful complaint got some attention, because Kerry has begun to go into full pander mode toward the black vote, and has announced plans to spend more money advertising in black media. But there are only seven weeks to energize black turnout, and given his lack of inherent appeal to blacks, as a haughty and wealthy New Englander, he may not enjoy the customary turnout and margin of support among blacks.

Evan Thomas of Newsweek famously predicted that the MSM's support for Kerry was worth 15 percentage points of the vote. Yet Kerry has begun to alienate the press. He promised monthly press conferences, but has not had one since July. He rarely mixes with the press corps on his campaign plane. The MSMers may still hate Bush, but they are having a hard time warming up to Kerry.

He has displayed obvious, potentially fatal naivete
In allowing devoted followers of Bill Clinton to occupy important space in his campaign, he has created the appearance of a na´ve simpleton. There has been ample public speculation that Hillary Clinton plans a run for the Democratic nomination in 2008, a prospect which would be obviated by a successful Kerry—for—President campaign. There is thus sufficient cause to at least question the motivations of people he has allowed to staff his organization.

A President is called—upon to navigate the difficult waters of international diplomacy. Duplicity and treachery are the expected and normal mode of statecraft. Installing allies with dual loyalties into roles critical to success is a fundamental error, usually made only by beginners. In time of war, such obvious indifference to the risks of betrayal could be fatal.

The American people are necessarily coming to the inevitable conclusion that John F. Kerry is unqualified to run an organization as complex as the federal government in a time of national peril.

Thomas Lifson, the editor and publisher of The American Thinker, formerly taught at Harvard Business School, from which he received an MBA degree, awarded "with high distinction"