Saturday, February 16, 2008

Guess he was Mr. Wrong

Ben Wright submitted his resignation yesterday.

My first impressions of him turned out to be off the mark. Over the 7 months of Mr. Wright's tenure, he never lived up to the hopes we had for his job performance. Many found the information on his website questionable, and as he got further into his job at Bransford Avenue, he had difficulty finding his way.

How many more central office personnel will lose their jobs before a new administration is organized?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Sen. Clinton's Management Skills

Now that some changes have been made among the personnel in the Clinton campaign, stories are swirling about a campaign that miscalculated the degree of opposition it would face, failed to establish contingency plans, and stuck with a failing strategy long after its failure became clear.

For example:

It's been said that one benefit of the torturous process presidential candidates must undergo is that it gives voters an extended view of their managerial ability. After all, this line of thinking goes, if a candidate can't organize a national campaign, he or she can't run the federal government.

If that's true, there are four emerging reasons why voters may want to take a second look at Hillary Clinton. So far, in a number of key areas, her campaign is falling short - and she won't solve the problem simply by changing campaign managers, as she did earlier this week. (

Margaret Carlson notes:

Clinton saw the New Hampshire result as her political resurrection, where she finally found her ``voice.'' But if the voice was different, the message was the same. Her Lazarus-like win kept her from looking any further into why she lost so badly in Iowa. It put off any move to change her insular staff and validated her original strategy in which the primaries were a mere formality.

Voters would coronate her partly because she had been first lady, because shewas a Clinton, and because it was her turn after all she had been through. It wasn't as much a matter of competing as it was waiting until Super Tuesday to accept the crown. (

One of the principal concerns about Barack Obama is that he will not be able to lead effectively and that his plans for Iraq represent false hope. It is safe to say that there has been plenty of false hope spread around regarding the Iraq strategy from the start. Remember the claim that, "We will be greeted as liberators?" It was that miscalculation, based on false hope that seems to have kept the Bush administration from making contingency plans in case a more hearty opposition emerged. Failure to plan for contingencies and effective reconstruction are widely regarded as among he more obvious managerial failings of the Bush administration in the Iraq War. They assumed that their cause was unstoppable, and acted without thinking it through. The result was a strategy that miscalculated the degree of opposition it would face, failed to establish contingency plans, and stuck with a failing strategy long after its failure became clear.

The military and tactical side of war will always be the purview of the Generals. No need to fear an inexperienced young president moving troops on a whim. The principal of civilian control of the military is not based on the idea that the president is a military strategist; it is based on the notion that the president has the wisdom, foresight, and humility to think it through. Self-assured and arrogant leaders make their mistakes less by alienating others than by failing to think it through. There is no reason that the Bush administration could not have planned for stiff opposition or implemented a strategy to win the peace. Yet, even after the glaring absence of such plans became obvious, the administration refused to change course, remaining loyal to Donald Rumsfeld even at the expense of the 2006 Congressional Elections.

Reading this account of the recent changes at team Clinton leaves me with the eerie feeling of déjà vu. I realize that a political campaign and a war are vastly different, and while George Bush's poor planning has cost lives, Clinton's poor planning stands only to cost her a chance at the presidency. Nevertheless, a political campaign is a managerial challenge, and while the presidency is much more than just management, Sen. Clinton has grounded her campaign on her particular strengths in that area.

Perhaps the question of voting to authorize the war is ultimately only the tip of the iceberg. Perhaps the management experience that Clinton and her team have brought to the campaign is more reminiscent of the Bush administration than she would hope to admit. If management, foresight, wisdom, and the humility to plan for unanticipated contingencies are skills we should value in a president, is Barack Obama really the more risky choice?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Yes we can change Tennessee!

They say we cannot hope that our Senate representation will change.

They say Tennessee is a blindly Republican state.

They say that no one will challenge the third-ranking Senate Republican, especially not here in Tennessee.

They say that we are stuck with representation that uses fear of immigrants to justify its policy agenda.

They say we have to continue the culture wars of the Boomer generation even if we are younger than boomers.

They say that if we are younger than boomers, we are too young to understand.

They say that Tennessee is incapable of supporting a democrat state-wide.

They say that we would rather have laws encouraging discrimination against foreign speakers than health care for the sick.

They say that working people are greedy to expect a living wage for their time and effort.

They say that fear will keep us committed to a war that has done nothing to reduce our fear.

They say that we should deny aid to single mothers in the city so that they will take responsibility for themselves, but that the Iraqi government should remain on our dole 100 years or more.

They say that the improbability of change will paralze us, and that we will remain divided and cowered by fear until it is too late to act.

They said that a strong challenger to Lamar Alexander could not be found.

We say, "YES WE CAN!"