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Can Failed Leaders Lead?

December 15, 2010

Ed Morrissey is amused, as usual.  Politico is noting that the Obama administration needs some new blood, and its looking for some out-of-work people to fill administrative slots.  Ed notes:

Fortunately for Obama, the lame-duck session is taking all his time at the moment, so he hasn’t moved forward with plans to hire Alan Grayson.  All right, no one’s talking about hiring Grayson, except perhaps MSNBC, but Politico mentions Ted Strickland, Jennifer Granholm, and Jim Doyle, three Democratic governors who found themselves out in the cold after the elections.  Of the three, only Strickland was defeated in the polls; Granholm and Doyle didn’t run for re-election, but were succeeded by Republicans  in what had been considered fairly safe Democratic states.   However, Obama apparently also wants job openings for defeated House incumbents Tom Perriello of Virginia and Steve Dreihaus and John Boccieri of Ohio.  Given that all three got spanked in the election fairly hard, the idea of adding them to reconnect to the electorate sounds very much like a White House and President in denial.

When I read the Politico article, I noted that it’s mostly about nervous staff wondering who’s going to get added and what that’s going to do to their current plans.  This is pretty much life in transition, and I’ve lived both sides.  When there’s change, a lot of people tend to stand around and wait for something to happen.  While this is occasionally dangerous, it’s also occasionally productive.  And in this case, maybe it’s not so bad.

I mean, face it, this administration isn’t necessarily making headlines with its success.  Getting a Jennifer Granholm or Ted Strickland in place provides experienced leadership in administration, something that’s actually lacking in the current White House.  I agree with Ed that the policies they’re trying to implement are likely ones that got the Democrats tossed a short month ago.  But that said, there’s still a strong need for leadership to take a somewhat-confused administration in some direction.

We talk about strategic leadership a lot here.  One of the things we strongly believe is that motion is better than inaction.  Even a bad direction can be turned easier than a standing body.  Does this mean that pulling in some new blood is good?  Well, maybe.  It’s going to depend more on the current players letting the new leaders actually do something.  This administration (as the last) seems to be very focused on a one-voice action, and that limits the creativity of the players.  I wouldn’t be surprised to hear about some disappointed leaders resigning in a year or so as they realize that they’re just there for name recognition.  Especially if the names don’t mean a lot to an angry public.

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