Staying Focused

In a bit less than 20 months the nation will have another election.  We will have to decide whether to keep our current Congressman or send them packing.  We will have to choose (if your state is "lucky" enough to have one of the 33 Senators who are up for re-election in 2012) whether to endure another six years of the person who shares the responsibility for representing the interests of your state in the Senate. Finally, we will have to decide whether to approve what Barack Hussein Obama has done with the trust the nation gave him in 2008, or repudiate him along with his "achievements."

Twenty months sounds like a long time, doesn't it?  But for the next year-and-a-half we will all have to suffer through the endless political spin, distortions, out-right lies, and the willful turning of a blind eye to obvious truths. 

We will all have to endure the exaggerations of both accomplishments when candidates are talking about themselves, and dishonesty, stupidity, callousness, corruption, unscrupulousness, ignominy when they're talking about the other candidates ... well, you get the idea. 

We, as citizens and voters, cannot allow ourselves to be distracted by the political spin spewing from the mouths and press releases of candidates, nor have our attention diverted by main stream media propagandists who broadcast countless hours and publish countless pages of drivel on contrived nonsense and describe this nonsense as a "crisis" that must be addressed.  A great many credulous people would respond by saying that such a scenario could never unfold. 

Really? 

If they are correct, some of you might join me in admitting that we were completely unaware of the dangers that schoolyard bullies augur for America's national security, or their potential for the impeding the nation's economic recovery, not to mention adding to the burdens of the energy crisis and probably impeding the heroic attempts of the EPA to fix global warming (or whatever it's being called this week) without the benefit of enabling legislation.

The focus that voters have to maintain should be on the core issues that are currently affecting America, and those that will likely become problems within the next few years.  Many of these issues have been written about extensively here at American Thinker, as well as numerous other blog sites, news aggregation sites, as well as being covered by talk radio channels and Fox News.  But even these sources can be distracted by events that are splashy, involve outrages by famous personalities, or in the case of the broadcast media, lend themselves more easily to sound bites and video clips than reasoned analysis.  As we have seen time and again since the LBJ-Goldwater campaign, manipulation of the media is not only relatively simple, in politics at least, it takes on aspects of a blood sport and no prisoners are ever exchanged.

It is the well-reasoned and objective exposition and analysis of events over the next 18 months that should be the basis for answering the most critical question posed by our next election. Which of the men and women presenting themselves for election should be the recipient of our votes, hours of effort as volunteers and funds needed to inform others who are not actively involved in selecting the best candidates?  At the same time the inverse question must also be answered:  Which candidates should we be active in opposing?  Why should we oppose them?  What is their fatal flaw? 

While in graduate school, I argued with a professor who claimed that, in business, managers always try to select and hire the best candidate.  As a working manager, as opposed to a student who had yet to enter the workforce, I believed that the best managers know better than to seek the "best" candidate, but to find the "least bad" candidate from those who have applied for a position.  This applies to the political realm as much as any business.

Many people think that Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey would make a terrific President.  Others think that Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin would be a pretty good Chief Executive.  They are viewed as the "best" by their respective supporters.  Unfortunately, neither gentleman has "applied for the job", and both have stated, in rather strong terms, that they are not planning to apply.  Obviously, in this case, for a large number of people, the "best candidate" for the job is not available to be chosen.  Since coercing them to run for President is not an option, their adherents now  have to identify the "least bad" from among the alternates who have actually have tossed their hats in the ring.

There are two types of criteria that must be identified before hiring, or making any other sort of decision.  These criteria can be broadly identified as "must have" versus "nice to have".  It might be nice to have a GPS system in your new car...but tires and an engine are high on that "Must Have" list.

In choosing who to select for the Presidency some people might feel that speaking a foreign language would be helpful.  However, that would qualify as Nice to Have, but not Must Have

On the other hand, having actual experience managing a large, complex organization would definitely be on the Must Have list of qualifications.  That would narrow the list of likely candidates to state governors, senior military officers who have had combat experience and CEOs of large, multi-national firms. 

Because the President must be able to react quickly and effectively when things go wrong, holding such a position during a major disaster, and handling it successfully, would also make probably top the Must Have list.   

What do these types of people have in common that might qualify them for the presidency?  If they've been successful, it means that they have taken to heart the words of the German General Carl von Clausewitz who famously said, "No plan survives the first contact with the enemy." Although von Clausewitz has been dead for 180 years, his observation is still accurate.  Even though the General was speaking about armed conflict, it is applicable in non-military terms as well.  No matter how carefully planned a government program might be, it still faces that one word that every manager dreads:  "Surprise!"  How a president adapts and reacts to unexpected responses to his initiatives, or to simply the random acts of madmen, is the true test of a leader.

Of course being in charge during a disaster and failing in some critical aspect would pretty much put the candidate on the "Not a Snowball's Chance" list.

In the same vein, the president must be a leader who never changes course, or gets lost in the pursuit of the original goal, even when the "enemy" is not following his carefully prepared script.  Methods might be altered, but never the end result sought.

The presidency is undoubtedly the most difficult job on the planet, since there are immense pressures to "do something" about whatever the crisis du jour might be. Any such crisis is rarely the result of actions taken by the president, which means that he or she is constantly in a reactive mode.  Even with the most able advisors, every president is faced with a limited array of options in terms of actions that are possible in any crisis.  On the "Must Have" list is the ability and willingness to make decisions.  Presidents are faced daily with choices between two equally unattractive alternatives, and as much as they might desire it, they cannot pretend to be Pontius Pilate and wash their hands of the matter.  They must choose.

Dithering, hesitancy, equivocation and vacillation are not acceptable.  When time permits, careful analysis is always appropriate, but there are times when the president must "shoot from the hip" using his best judgment.  And the president ought to have a batting average in such situations that is well above .500!  And voting "Present" is not the equivalent to a base on balls.

The focus that is needed at this time, even though a year-and-a-half seems interminable, is the identification of those "Must Have" traits, and then measuring candidates against that list, and weeding out those who don't measure up. 

Jim Yardley is a retired financial controller, Vietnam veteran and libertarian (small "l").  Jim blogs at jimyardley.wordpress.com, or he can be contacted directly at james.v.yardley@gmail.com
In a bit less than 20 months the nation will have another election.  We will have to decide whether to keep our current Congressman or send them packing.  We will have to choose (if your state is "lucky" enough to have one of the 33 Senators who are up for re-election in 2012) whether to endure another six years of the person who shares the responsibility for representing the interests of your state in the Senate. Finally, we will have to decide whether to approve what Barack Hussein Obama has done with the trust the nation gave him in 2008, or repudiate him along with his "achievements."

Twenty months sounds like a long time, doesn't it?  But for the next year-and-a-half we will all have to suffer through the endless political spin, distortions, out-right lies, and the willful turning of a blind eye to obvious truths. 

We will all have to endure the exaggerations of both accomplishments when candidates are talking about themselves, and dishonesty, stupidity, callousness, corruption, unscrupulousness, ignominy when they're talking about the other candidates ... well, you get the idea. 

We, as citizens and voters, cannot allow ourselves to be distracted by the political spin spewing from the mouths and press releases of candidates, nor have our attention diverted by main stream media propagandists who broadcast countless hours and publish countless pages of drivel on contrived nonsense and describe this nonsense as a "crisis" that must be addressed.  A great many credulous people would respond by saying that such a scenario could never unfold. 

Really? 

If they are correct, some of you might join me in admitting that we were completely unaware of the dangers that schoolyard bullies augur for America's national security, or their potential for the impeding the nation's economic recovery, not to mention adding to the burdens of the energy crisis and probably impeding the heroic attempts of the EPA to fix global warming (or whatever it's being called this week) without the benefit of enabling legislation.

The focus that voters have to maintain should be on the core issues that are currently affecting America, and those that will likely become problems within the next few years.  Many of these issues have been written about extensively here at American Thinker, as well as numerous other blog sites, news aggregation sites, as well as being covered by talk radio channels and Fox News.  But even these sources can be distracted by events that are splashy, involve outrages by famous personalities, or in the case of the broadcast media, lend themselves more easily to sound bites and video clips than reasoned analysis.  As we have seen time and again since the LBJ-Goldwater campaign, manipulation of the media is not only relatively simple, in politics at least, it takes on aspects of a blood sport and no prisoners are ever exchanged.

It is the well-reasoned and objective exposition and analysis of events over the next 18 months that should be the basis for answering the most critical question posed by our next election. Which of the men and women presenting themselves for election should be the recipient of our votes, hours of effort as volunteers and funds needed to inform others who are not actively involved in selecting the best candidates?  At the same time the inverse question must also be answered:  Which candidates should we be active in opposing?  Why should we oppose them?  What is their fatal flaw? 

While in graduate school, I argued with a professor who claimed that, in business, managers always try to select and hire the best candidate.  As a working manager, as opposed to a student who had yet to enter the workforce, I believed that the best managers know better than to seek the "best" candidate, but to find the "least bad" candidate from those who have applied for a position.  This applies to the political realm as much as any business.

Many people think that Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey would make a terrific President.  Others think that Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin would be a pretty good Chief Executive.  They are viewed as the "best" by their respective supporters.  Unfortunately, neither gentleman has "applied for the job", and both have stated, in rather strong terms, that they are not planning to apply.  Obviously, in this case, for a large number of people, the "best candidate" for the job is not available to be chosen.  Since coercing them to run for President is not an option, their adherents now  have to identify the "least bad" from among the alternates who have actually have tossed their hats in the ring.

There are two types of criteria that must be identified before hiring, or making any other sort of decision.  These criteria can be broadly identified as "must have" versus "nice to have".  It might be nice to have a GPS system in your new car...but tires and an engine are high on that "Must Have" list.

In choosing who to select for the Presidency some people might feel that speaking a foreign language would be helpful.  However, that would qualify as Nice to Have, but not Must Have

On the other hand, having actual experience managing a large, complex organization would definitely be on the Must Have list of qualifications.  That would narrow the list of likely candidates to state governors, senior military officers who have had combat experience and CEOs of large, multi-national firms. 

Because the President must be able to react quickly and effectively when things go wrong, holding such a position during a major disaster, and handling it successfully, would also make probably top the Must Have list.   

What do these types of people have in common that might qualify them for the presidency?  If they've been successful, it means that they have taken to heart the words of the German General Carl von Clausewitz who famously said, "No plan survives the first contact with the enemy." Although von Clausewitz has been dead for 180 years, his observation is still accurate.  Even though the General was speaking about armed conflict, it is applicable in non-military terms as well.  No matter how carefully planned a government program might be, it still faces that one word that every manager dreads:  "Surprise!"  How a president adapts and reacts to unexpected responses to his initiatives, or to simply the random acts of madmen, is the true test of a leader.

Of course being in charge during a disaster and failing in some critical aspect would pretty much put the candidate on the "Not a Snowball's Chance" list.

In the same vein, the president must be a leader who never changes course, or gets lost in the pursuit of the original goal, even when the "enemy" is not following his carefully prepared script.  Methods might be altered, but never the end result sought.

The presidency is undoubtedly the most difficult job on the planet, since there are immense pressures to "do something" about whatever the crisis du jour might be. Any such crisis is rarely the result of actions taken by the president, which means that he or she is constantly in a reactive mode.  Even with the most able advisors, every president is faced with a limited array of options in terms of actions that are possible in any crisis.  On the "Must Have" list is the ability and willingness to make decisions.  Presidents are faced daily with choices between two equally unattractive alternatives, and as much as they might desire it, they cannot pretend to be Pontius Pilate and wash their hands of the matter.  They must choose.

Dithering, hesitancy, equivocation and vacillation are not acceptable.  When time permits, careful analysis is always appropriate, but there are times when the president must "shoot from the hip" using his best judgment.  And the president ought to have a batting average in such situations that is well above .500!  And voting "Present" is not the equivalent to a base on balls.

The focus that is needed at this time, even though a year-and-a-half seems interminable, is the identification of those "Must Have" traits, and then measuring candidates against that list, and weeding out those who don't measure up. 

Jim Yardley is a retired financial controller, Vietnam veteran and libertarian (small "l").  Jim blogs at jimyardley.wordpress.com, or he can be contacted directly at james.v.yardley@gmail.com