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October 23, 2004

Leadership Divide

Usually I don't like it when Brooks gets introspective, but I think he has a point here:

...we're in the middle of a leadership war. Underneath all the disputes about Iraq, we're having a big argument about what qualities America should have in a leader. Republicans trust one kind of leader, Democrats another. This is the constant that runs through recent elections.
Republicans, from Reagan to Bush, particularly admire leaders who are straight-talking men of faith. The Republican leader doesn't have to be book smart, and probably shouldn't be narcissistically introspective. But he should have a clear, broad vision of America's exceptional role in the world. Democrats, on the other hand, are more apt to emphasize such leadership skills as being knowledgeable and thoughtful. They value leaders who can see complexities, who possess the virtues of the well-educated.
Republicans and Democrats have different conceptions of the presidency. Republicans admire a president who is elevated above his executive branch colleagues. It is impossible to imagine George W. Bush or Reagan as a cabinet secretary. Instead, they are set apart by virtue of exceptional moral qualities. Relying on their core values, they set broad goals and remain resolute in times of crisis.
Democrats see the presidency as a much more ministerial job. They admire presidents who engage in constant deliberative conversations. Democrats from Carter through Mondale, Dukakis, Clinton, Gore and Kerry have all been well versed in the inner workings of government. It is easy to imagine each of them serving as a cabinet secretary.
It just so happens that America is evenly divided about what sort of leader we need: the Republican who leads with his soul or the Democrat who leads with his judgment. Even the events of the past four years have not altered that disagreement.
That's why we are still tied.

I've noted this myself in talking with friends (yes, I do have them) who are Democrats. What I see as admirable qualities in George Bush: his steadfastness, his faith, his principles, they see as stubborness, arrogance, arbitrariness. What they see as admirable in John Kerry: flexibility, willingness to listen, to compromise, I see as a lack of principles, indecision, and a willingness to say anything to be elected or achieve consensus.

These qualities are flip sides of the same coin, and whether you prefer heads or tails depends on your political view. I'm never going to change my basic judgement on this score: the Presidency is an Executive function. Whether a Republican or a Democrat fills the office, I prefer a person who is decisive: who can execute or act swiftly when needed; taking, of course, the advice of his or her cabinet under advisement. But the decision-making power of the Presidency (and the responsibility for those decisions) can never be wholly delegated, the touchy-feely mutterings of Congress or the media to the contrary. The nation is not run by committee - that is why we elect a single individual to act decisively for us when needed.

Americans have always somewhat feared the prospect of a king-elect; that is why we have term limits. But our over 200-year history and at times over-vigilant press are very adequate safeguards against that danger. I have never understood the allure of a deliberative presidency where decisions are made by consensus, in concert with the global community. In a world where things increasingly occur at blinding speed, we no longer have time to deliberate as we once did. In a world where new and frightening weapons can destroy, not just hundreds of people, but millions at a single stroke, can we really afford the luxury of deliberation?

Will our enemies stop, and deliberate, and reach global consensus, before they strike at us? Will we even know it?

- Cassandra

October 23, 2004 at 12:47 PM | Permalink


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Just something that struck me as a bit of deja vu.

One of the reasons I didn't make a career of the military was the corporate mentality of the Armed Forces needing "Managers" vs. "Leaders".Seems we've come full circle since.America cannot afford "Managers" at this juncture.


Posted by: Greg at Oct 23, 2004 2:52:26 PM

Funny - there does seem to be that mindset.

People want to hold the President accountable for all sorts of nonsense that goes on far below his paygrade. I don't want a micromanager in the Oval Office - it's not realistic to think he's going to affect my job, or things on that level.
But that's how people vote. It's silly.

That's Congress's job. Or their state representative's job.

Or (God forbid) their job to pay attention to their own life and manage it a bit better.

The President is there to take care of the really big stuff. And Kerry wants to turn that stuff over to the global community because he doesn't trust his own judgement.

Scary. He just said it again the other day: it's OK for our troops to die under UN leadership, but not under US leadership. That's antithetical to why my husband (and I guarantee you everyone who is in the armed forces today) signed up.

Posted by: Cassandra at Oct 23, 2004 4:06:14 PM

"Micro" or "Macro", managers need not apply. Good point, JFK2 has no huevos to either make a decision or stand by a decision.The choice is clear. Choose wisely.


"sign the SF 180 Senator"

Posted by: Greg at Oct 23, 2004 5:35:18 PM

Check out the Stolen Honor video.

This is the one that Kerry bullied the Sinclair stations into "dumbing down."

The actual video is available for download FREE. View it, download it, E-MAIL IT TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW.

Posted by: salt1907 at Oct 23, 2004 5:55:46 PM

I tend to sort of agree with this. However, is it not as simplistic as Brooks writes, and the best Presidents had some of both kinds of qualities. And probably both Bush and Kerry do have some of each, but with emphasis one side or the other.

If Kerry were truly an indecisive waffler incapable of making a decision, he would make a lousy President. However, that image of him is all Bush campaign spin. If you believe it, you are believing your side's propaganda.

If Bush were truly as brainless as some Democrats say, he would never have been Governor, let alone President. So I don't believe all the spin either. In fact when I first heard about George W. in 1998 or so, I thought he could be pretty good. In my opinion his George Herbert Walker Bush was pretty good, although he was more the analytical, non-visionary type. But he was decisive enough.

The thing we have to go on now, is Bush's record of achievement, or non-achievement. To me, that speaks very loudly.

Posted by: Al Peck at Oct 24, 2004 1:47:32 AM

Another reason for the 50-50 nation, is suggested by this article:

"Three of Four Bush Supporters Still Believe in Iraqi WMD, al Qaeda Ties"

"Those are among the most striking findings of the survey, which was conducted in mid-October by the University of Maryland’s Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) and Knowledge Networks, a California-based polling firm."


Many Bush supporters (not you folks of course) appear to be misinformed. For example:

"In the face of a stream of high-level assessments about pre-war Iraq, Bush supporters cling to the refuted beliefs that Iraq had WMD or supported al Qaeda.”

“One of the reasons that Bush supporters have these (erroneous) beliefs is that they perceive the Bush administration confirming them,” noted Steven Kull, PIPA’s director. “Interestingly, this is one point on which Bush and Kerry supporters agree.”

"The survey also found a major gap between Bush’s stated positions on a number of international issues and what his supporters believe Bush’s position to be. A strong majority of Bush supporters believe, for example that the president supports a range of international treaties and institutions which is actually on record as opposing."

"The survey found that 72 percent of Bush supporters believe either that Iraq had actual WMD (47 percent) or a major program for producing them (25 percent), despite the widespread media coverage in early October of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA’s) “Duelfer Report,” the final word on the subject by the one billion dollar, 15-month investigation by the Iraq Survey Group."

"It found that that Hussein had dismantled all of his WMD programs shortly after the 1991 Gulf War and had never tried to reconstitute them."

I would recommend reading the whole thing. It'w pretty interesting.

Posted by: Al Peck at Oct 24, 2004 1:57:22 AM

Al I consider myself to be fairly well informed and I`m still convinced that Iraq had WMDs. I`m also fairly certain that most are still squirreled away there somewhere.

Here`s the reasons why, and maybe it`ll help you understand why the 72% of Bush supporters believe it.

It`s an undeniable, verifiable fact that up until the actual invasion, Saddam had WMDs.
The only debatable issues were the quantities and varieties, but that he had them, and used them, no one denied.

Inspectors verified it, before and after GW I.
U.S. inspectors, U.N. inspectors and European inspectors. He even continued to use them on the Kurds. The only ones to dispute that are the perpetual pacifists.

When the war began, if you`ll recall, the anti-war crowd made a huge deal out of the possibility that Saddam might use them on U.S. troops, they never said that they weren`t there.

So it`s established that the WMDs were there before, during and after Gulf war 1. It`s also a fact that Saddam couldn`t account for them to the UN or the U.S during the inspections. Some yes, but not the Lions share. Also recall, that the U.S. kept running out of patience with him over it. At the time it was both parties calling for action against Saddam. Democrats were just as fed up as republicans. Clinton was in office, so it wasn`t a VRWC.

My reasoning is this; We know he had them. We know he used them. We also know he didn`t get rid of them. So where are they?

Do you see the difference?
Overwhelming proof that he had them. No proof that he got rid of them.
He got rid of some. He had to in order to keep the heat off him, but it was only a trickle here or there, not even the bare minimum of compliance requirements and nothing even close to what the world knew he had.

So where are they?
Did he wave a magic wand and make them disappear?
They had to go somewhere, they can`t exist for all this time and then suddenly "POOF" they`re gone.

So it boils down to this.
The reason 72% of us believe they are still there is because there is no evidence that they have been destroyed.
A simple logical extrapolation of data.

Posted by: Joatmoaf at Oct 24, 2004 3:11:49 AM

Joatmoaf; what about this?


"WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Saddam Hussein did not possess stockpiles of illicit weapons at the time of the U.S. invasion in March 2003 and had not begun any program to produce them, a CIA report concludes.

In fact, the long-awaited report, authored by Charles Duelfer, who advises the director of central intelligence on Iraqi weapons, says Iraq's WMD program was essentially destroyed in 1991 and Saddam ended Iraq's nuclear program after the 1991 Gulf War.

The Iraq Survey Group report, released Wednesday, is 1,200 to 1,500 pages long.

The massive report does say, however, that Iraq worked hard to cheat on United Nations-imposed sanctions and retain the capability to resume production of weapons of mass destruction at some time in the future."

OK, so the real casus belli here is that Saddam had a hard-on for WMD's.

Look, as a real threat to the US, nukes are the only thing that count. (Hijacking weapons and regular explosives, terrorists could get without Saddam) Chemical weapons are a battlfield tactical weapon. Bio weapons have a short shelf-life. With inspectors back in the country, for which Bush deserves full credit, it would have been very difficult for Saddam to start up any kind of program. Sustaining an inspection effort, even for years, would be a heck of a lot cheaper in blood and treasure than sustaining an occupation.

The kind of threat that Condi, Cheney, Rumsfeld and all the others were telling us about simply didn't exist at the time the war started.

Posted by: Al Peck at Oct 24, 2004 11:18:34 PM

Look, as a real threat to the US, nukes are the only thing that count. Posted by Al

I'm sure there are about 3000 dead people in NY who would disagree with you if they could.

Nukes are a big deal, but not the only deal.

"WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Saddam Hussein did not possess stockpiles of illicit weapons at the time of the U.S. invasion in March 2003 and had not begun any program to produce them, a CIA report concludes."

Saying that SH didn't have possession of stockpiles at the time doesn't refute the assertion that he had them previous to it. But if he had them before (which was widely believed on both sides) but he doesn't now, where did they go? Were they destroyed, moved or perhaps they're just buried. After all, crates are much smaller. Perhaps if we had acted more quickly we would have caught them.

Posted by: Masked Menace at Oct 25, 2004 12:07:40 PM

Al, Menace is right. A WMD is anything that can kill massive numbers of people at one time.

The sarin-filled shell from 1991 that exploded in May is a WMD. It was found on the route to Syria where all that signals traffic was in the days just before the invasion. That's what you people don't seem to understand.

It was banned, he was supposed to have gotten rid of it. Had it exploded properly, it could have wiped out .... masses, thus earning its name.

It doesn't matter a darn whether it was from 1991 or 2001, if it was still around and it still worked, and this one almost did.

We haven't even begun to examine the vast majority of sites in Iraq, and everyone acknowledges that these things weren't labeled. What makes you so sure they won't be found.

Your buddy Duelfer didn't rule out WMD's going to Syria, by the way:

At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Oct. 6, Charles Duelfer, an adviser to the CIA, did not rule out Saddam's transfer of Iraqi missiles and weapons of mass destruction to Syria, reports Geostrategy-Direct, the global intelligence news service.

Duelfer agreed that a large amount of material had been transferred by Iraq to Syria before the March 2003 war.

"A lot of materials left Iraq and went to Syria," Duelfer said. "There was certainly a lot of traffic across the border points. We've got a lot of data to support that, including people discussing it. But whether in fact in any of these trucks there was WMD-related materials, I cannot say."

The Iraq Survey Group, headed by Duelfer, said Russia, Syria, Jordan and other arms suppliers were paid from Iraqi oil revenues.

A CIA report, authored by the Iraq Survey Group, identified Russia and Syria atop a list of 12 arms suppliers to Iraq until the U.S.-led war against Baghdad started in March 2003.

The report listed Russia and Syria above North Korea — regarded as the leading missile proliferator to the Middle East — as leading suppliers to Baghdad.

Jordan was the third largest supplier of weapons to Iraq.

The report said Saddam diverted money from the U.N. oil-for-food program to pay for both conventional and nonconventional weapons and components.

The report said state-owned companies in Russia and Syria defied U.N. sanctions and supplied weapons and platforms to Baghdad. The report said Syria also served as the leading route for illegal arms supplies from Europe and other countries.

Several of Iraq's neighbors were said to have joined in the secret military effort to aid Baghdad. The report — based on interviews with senior Iraqi officials and 40 million pages of documents and classified intelligence — cited Jordan and Turkey as leading suppliers to the Saddam regime.

You are an engineer. There are two possible errors here: Type I and Type II. One is to assume there is no danger, when in fact, there is.

The other is to assume there IS danger, when in fact, there isn't.

Which is worse?

I know what Kerry is advising, and it just doesn't make sense. It's sheer madness.

Posted by: Cassandra at Oct 25, 2004 12:36:22 PM