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Friday, October 31, 2003

It's the Leadership Stupid

I'm up to my eyes in admin today, blogging at the moment is slow and light. However Joerg has not been idle:

Someone sent me a link to an article on the Harvard Business School website (more: here and here )in an attempt to convert me to Bushism. One of the first paragraphs did tell me something about recent American political history that wasn´t absolutely clear to me, but it also demonstrated why the apology would probably go on to fail. Here´s the graf - the rest only merits summarising:

"Bush's leadership in the White House has thus become a national Rorschach test. Depending on our perspective, we are drawn to or repelled by him. Rarely in modern American history has any president become as polarizing. Scholar George C. Edwards III pointed out a decade ago that approval ratings for recent presidents tend to run about 35 percentage points higher among members of their own party than among people identifying with the out party. For Bush Sr., for example, the average gap between Republicans and Democrats was 37 percentage points. Reagan and Clinton, more divisive leaders, often drove the gap to 50 percentage points or more. But George W. Bush's gap is off the charts: his approval rating among Republicans hovers in the high 80s; he's down in the 20s among Democrats - a chasm of more than 60 percentage points. Increasingly, people like him or they don't; the not-certains are disappearing."

On to the summary:

1. "He has embraced a command-and-control style that sharply challenges much of today's conventional wisdom about leadership and indeed is a marked departure from other recent presidents." How does this differentiate him from Putin, Mahathir, DeGaulle or other practitioners of the autocratic style?

2. "Despite his unorthodox style, Bush has been far more daring in setting a national agenda—and achieving it—than any expert thought possible three years ago." And what does the agenda allegedly consist of - according to author David Gergen?

a) The war on terror (Hasn´t that point of the agenda been set by bin Laden?)
b) Tax cuts (It´s not like Krugman has tuned in to the wrong station)
c) Effective power politics at home in order to break the impasse in American politics and enable more change in the future (More of the same? I.e., concentration on the war on terror (excepting its chief perpetrator? Someone please explain to me why everybody and his brother seems to know that the guy is alive and well in Pakistan - yet another Bushite confidence-building measure?) plus further tax cuts at home?)

3. "Even as a backlash grows against him, the qualities of leadership Bush has demonstrated - yes, the qualities of his leadership- have attracted a following that is large, loyal, and intense." How does this differentiate him from your run-of-the-mill nationalist politician anywhere in the world? From - oh, well - Arafat?

4. "Even as it has strengthened his political base, Bush's brand of top-down, assertive leadership also runs clear, deep, and dangerous risks. Over the past year, the dangers have become ever more visible and could eventually be fatal for his presidency." Must be reassuring to every concerned party. I guess such phraseology qualifies as objectivity. Churchill was saved by success - why exactly would Bush be saved by failure?

The finale: Bush "may yet pursue a transformation of the Middle East and the creation of an American empire." And the rest of the world may yet resolve to rebel against the doctrine of limited sovereignty that any notion of an American empire definitely implies. It is dumb not to realize that Bush´s vengeance against the Arab world is the culmination of
a long-practised divide-and-conquer approach (support for fundamentalists in Afghanistan against the Soviets and hated regimes like that in Saudi-Arabia, now possibly a deal with Iran to save face in Iraq - punctuated by self righteous proclamations of a right to remake the Islamic world in the image of Western secularism) that is perceived as such by hundreds of millions of Muslims. Bush is a polarizer at home, but a uniter in the rest of the world. Not only the Franco-German axis attests to that fact. Soon, the Islamic Gold Dinar will kick off another round of currency-driven economic cooperation in a different part of the world - a part populous enough to even rival China in some distant future. A part of the world where religion - as opposed to the Indian case, but closely paralleled by Protestantism - could be a driving force in the creation of economic progress.

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