Wednesday, June 16, 2010

On the Waterfront

"You never want a serious crisis to go to waste."

Rahm Emanuel

This axiom has become the bedrock on which the Obama Admin is built. Their misunderstanding of this saying will turn the administration’s anchor into a millstone tied around their neck to be tossed into the oily sea by Middle America.

Emanuel’s philosophy needs to be synthesized with a couple other principles or their political leadership will be all washed up.

Serious crisis can help leaders if they know:

1) Reality is MORE important than appearances. People must know you are in control and care about the common good. Forgiveness will be at an all time high. People are with you. They will watch and see how much you care. They emotionally put themselves in your shoes and secretly hope you win for us all. It will be the first major step in your leadership ability. Pass this major test and write your ticket.

2) Appearances are SOMETIMES more important than reality. If you aren’t fighting for the good, and making progress, nothing else makes sense. But if people aren’t aware of what you’re doing, all the good makes little sense to others. You need to find symbolic ways to give confidence to the people.

3) Finally, you never want a serious crisis to go to waste. Once you have proven your leadership to the people you have the most important thing a leader and an admin team has—trust. Once you have trust, hammering away at all that non-crisis stuff becomes easier.

How has this Administration failed? Once this deep-water pipe started spewing barrel upon barrel into the Gulf waters, President Obama should have called all the military together (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard) and figured out how to beat this thing. He should have had the press headline his quote talking to the military heads saying, “Today we are one branch working together; let’s cap this pipe!” President Obama could have received help offered from other countries. If there were legislation keeping them out of our waters, a democratic dominated house and senate would have run to the podiums to back up executive orders. What a win and great photo-op for donkeys! Appearances are SOMETIMES more important than reality. Once the problem is capped, Barack Obama becomes a national hero. He can push any legislation with gusto. To repeat a misinterpreted axiom: "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste." I do think there’s still time seize the opportunity. Not much.