Saturday, May 31, 2008

David Frum Blames The McClellan Mess On Bush's Lack Of Vision and Lack Of Managerial Skill


Frum now claiming publisher botched title & he meant "Rightist Man?"

Although the GOP reaction To Scott McClellan's book that gets the most ink was prissy Bob Dole's "miserable creature" remark, a few days ago, author Newt Gingrich was questioned about McClellan on Fox and, speaking as a publishing business insider, he claims the whle thing was a big giant ploy to sell books and that the publisher probably encouraged McClellan to "spice it up." Gingrich went on to say that he's "more concerned about 'American Idol' than I am about Scott McClellan... where there are more voters and maybe more to vote for."

Republican Party wordsmith and propaganda agent David Frum has a more serious critique to offer. He thinks the whole tawdy episode is a reflection on the poor managerial qualities of his ex-boss, the man who, pre-9/11 when he became the "War President,"  fancied himself the "CEO-President:
That early team was recruited with one paramount consideration in mind: loyalty. Theoretically, it should be possible to combine loyalty with talent. But that did not happen often with the Bush team.

Bush demanded a very personal kind of loyalty, a loyalty not to a cause or an idea, but to him and his own career. Perhaps unconsciously, he tested that loyalty with constant petty teasing, sometimes verging on the demeaning. (Robert Draper, whose book Dead Certain offers a vivid picture of the pre-presidential Bush, tells the story of a 1999 campaign-strategy meeting at which Bush shut Karl Rove up by ordering him to “hang up my jacket.” The room fell silent in shock-- but Rove did it.)

These little abuses would often be followed by unexpected acts of thoughtfulness and generosity. Yet the combination of the demand for personal loyalty, the bullying and the ensuing compensatory love-bombing was to weed out strong personalities and to build an inner circle defined by a willingness to accept absolute subordination to the fluctuating needs of a tense, irascible and unpredictable chief.

Had Bush been a more active manager, these subordinated personalities might have done him less harm. But after choosing people he could dominate, he then delegated them enormous power. He created a closed loop in which the people entrusted with the most responsibility were precisely those who most dreaded responsibility-- Condoleezza Rice being the most important and most damaging example.

Yet as the proverb warns us, even worms will turn.

...To recruit and hold strong personalities, a president must demand something more than personal loyalty. He must offer a compelling vision and ideal-- a cause that people can serve without feeling servile. Otherwise a president will only get… what Bush has now got.

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