Campaign Mode


By: Brooks A. Mick

The big headline this Sunday morning on HuffingtonPost.com is “Getting Back into Campaign Mode—Obama to sell economic plan campaign-style.” This makes sense. Campaigning is the only skill set in which Obama has demonstrated competence. Other than high school basketball, that is.

Once in the Oval Office, he has demonstrated that:

a) He’s a far-left ideologue, not a centrist as he was portrayed in the campaign.

b) He’s not planning on being bipartisan.

c) He’s incompetent, at this stage in his career, in executive leadership. This is a common failing in those who have spent their entire career, such as it was, in the legislative branch.

His entire political career has consisted entirely of campaigning. Once in office, he voted “present” much of the time rather than taking any tough political stances that could be held against him in later campaigns. Criticizing other people, not making hard decisions, is an Obama skill set. Indeed, in his prior political campaigns, much of that involved using more-or-less dirty tricks, delving into opponent’s sealed divorce records, to drive them out of the running or tarnish their images. So when the going gets tough, the Obama goes campaigning. This is where his competence lies. It’s what he’s comfortable doing.

Those who have studied leadership for a few decades will recall the famous book, “The Peter Principle, “ by Dr. Lawrence J. Peter and Raymond Hull. The Peter Principle is the principle that “In a Hierarchy Every Employee Tends to Rise to His Level of Incompetence.” That is, the competent person at a low-level task is promoted, and continues to be promoted as long as he demonstrates competence. But at some point, each person, if he remains in the organizational hierarchy long enough, is promoted to a position for which he is incompetent. This explains why Congress operates in such a chaotic, not to say stupid, fashion. It is full of people who have been promoted to their level of incompetence.

And now we have the brilliant campaigner who has finally reached the top of the executive ladder after never having held an executive position! He was climbing one hierarchical ladder in the legislative branch and then leapt from an upper rung there onto the top rung of an entirely different hierarchical ladder. This makes it even more probable that he will have attained his level of incompetence.

Evidence of this executive incompetence is blatantly obvious:

a) He allowed (or encouraged) the Pelosi wing of the House to write a massive spending bill designed to entrench Democratic power rather than a bill designed to stimulate the economy.

b) He is still playing the “us against them” audio track that his rabid fans demand rather than recognizing that a real leader works hard to get everyone to buy into the success of the group.

He would have demonstrated leadership by being a serious leader, sitting down with both Democrats and Republicans and working out a true stimulus bill based on what has succeeded in the past and based upon a rational understanding of human nature and the economy. Instead, he reflexively backed a pork-laden spending bill full of gifts for all the constituencies that voted him and other Democrats into office. States and mayors and unions and ACORN had sent their wish lists to the North Pole and Santa Obamaclaus was going to come down the chimney in February with a huge sack over his shoulder full of tennis courts and water parks and money to finance more election fraud. Unfortunately, the bill was not rushed through fast enough, giving time for the citizens to find out about it.

Obama has had his second big strike in just 2 weeks past inauguration. The first strike was the nomination of so many tax cheats to high-level administrative positions. This huge spending bill fiasco is the second strike, and it’s worse. It demonstrates not just a shallowness of the vetting process (or a willingness to tolerate corruption); it demonstrates serious incompetence in the actual skills of leadership.

So rather than lead, admit the bill is a porker, and fix the problem, Obama goes campaigning. It’s what he’s always been good at. Another management text, which unfortunately I cannot recall, once pointed out that you will find the person who has been promoted to his level of incompetence busily at work—but not at what he’s been assigned. He’ll be busy doing something he’s good at—but not what needs to be done.

When the going gets tough, the Obama goes campaigning.

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