Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Josh Marshall sums it up:
With the nomination today of White House Domestic Policy Adviser Margaret Spellings as Education Secretary the pattern is now unmistakably clear. As was the case with Gonzales and Rice, President Bush is transposing his White House staff out to head their analogous federal departments and agencies.

Gonzales goes from White House Counsel to Attorney General; Rice goes from NSC to State; Spellings goes from Domestic Policy Advisor to Education Secretary.

Each of them defined mainly by their loyalty to President Bush.

The first noticeable aspect of GW's second term is the fast & furious consolidation of steadfast loyalty, with the ouster of all those who perhaps conveyed even the slightest straying from the plantation during the first term. Yet, leave it up to this president to move forward with this decision as it's exactly the wrong way to go.

If the last four years didn't prove anything else it was that he needed more variety or diversity in the voices speaking to him, and then for him to actually listen to those voices. All too often, he ignored those opinions that he simply disagreed with -- and yet so often turned out to be correct. Instead, he usually opted to go with those who were simply most loyal, irregardless of the logic or authority of the source.

He is supposed to be the "MBA President" and yet as he has shown over the years, GW has been an awful CEO. Is there any wonder why? I study stocks/companies for a living and over the years one very bad sign that I've observed is when top management gets too cozy or insulated. When the CEO is overly comfortable with his/her board, when the norm is to be surrounded by yes-people who don't want to rock the boat in any way, it typically does not take long for that company to head south. Disney is a good recent example of this scenario as over the years as CEO, Michael Eisner stacked management with his loyal cronies and in the process the stock price suffered as corporate malaise set in.

This sort of behavior is actually a sign of weakness, not strength. Only a weak, insecure person cannot accept advice or feedback that may differ from one's own opinion(s). Another very relevant analogy is that of the alcoholic in deep denial: rather than listening to the tough-love advice from friends, he/she simply gets new friends.

If I were a betting man, I would wager that these latest moves in the administration spell deep trouble for the next four years. It's going to get even worse than it was in the first term (I know, hard to believe that's possible). Get ready for lots of dumb, big scandals and screw-ups. He should've learned, but that would be asking too much from a man who seems incapable of doing anything right.

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