Tuesday, September 13, 2005
A brief post out of my retreat from political blogging. This post was inspired by my wife.
There's a story in Newsweek about the lack of preparedness all across the board in the case of Hurricane Katrina. The article focuses on President Bush, who was more or less out of the loop.
How did the President end up so disconnected from the reality of Katrina? Well first, he doesn't watch TV news. He doesn't read newspapers. That would be a good idea for most people -- it was a good idea for me, because I don't want to be in a perpetual rage about the world. However, the President is the leader of the "free world" and you would think he has a duty to keep up with current events. Instead, current events are summarized for him. Only what's "important" ever reaches him.
You'd think that someone would have reached the President about Hurricane Katrina. However, the President seems to have an unwritten rule - you're only supposed to bring the President good news. According to the article, he takes it out on subordinates who bring him bad news. Therefore, all the news that was brought President Bush was the good news, and what few successes there were on the recovery effort were presented as characterizing the norm.
The article has some bizarre parts to it. The first part was that someone had to tell the President it was time to end his vacation. (Now we know why the Cindy Sheehan protests never bothered him - in his world the question was "protests? what protests?") Three senior aides were delegated to tell him the bad news. The other part was the fact that somehow the President had to be brought up to date as to how serious the situation was, so they made him a DVD of broadcasts from CNN, Fox News, etc.
When I told this story to my wife, she said that it reminded her of Bernie Ebbers and Ken Lay. Two guys who had a rule that you only bring good news to the table. I've also been reading "The Smartest Guys in the Room", the story of Enron. Lay was a guy who was a "big picture" guy who left the "details" to other people.
My wife concluded that that kind of management style led people to draw one of two conclusions. The first conclusion was "I expect you to solve problems on your own, and only come to me with difficult problems. The second conclusion to draw is, "I'm not competent to solve your problem, and I need the plausable deniability."
posted by Green Voicemail 9/13/2005 10:00:00 PM