Our legislator President 

If you look closely at our history, we rarely elect our legislators to be our president.


There are many theories about why that is so, but for most it boils down to a pretty common sense reason. We want someone who has executive experience. We want that for two reasons. Obviously, first and foremost the presidency is an executive job. You could argue it is the pinnacle of executive jobs – the toughest one on the planet. The reasons for desiring an experienced executive are myriad and well known, but the presidency in particular demands an experienced hand, one that has a demonstrated ability and leadership to do such work at a lower level. Secondly, lower level executive experience, such as governor, gives voters a touch-stone, a way to measure performance and to evaluate whether or not the candidate measures up to their standard of responsibility and success that will enable him or her to succeed while president.

All of that history and analysis apparently went out the window this last election season with the rise and triumph of a formerly little known junior Senator from Illinois who galvanized the populace and saw himself propelled into the White House. Barack Obama was undoubtedly an attractive and unique candidate and incredibly well spoken to the mood of the political hour. Combined with a complete destruction of the GOP brand and tired of both wars and the then occupant of the White House, voters chose to vote for the politics of “hope and change.”

What they got, instead was just another politician, who was a journeyman legislator that had only, for most of his adult life, been running for office instead of working in any of his elected offices. And never had he “run anything or done anything” on an executive level. In fact, when questioned about his lack of such experience, his answer was to point to his multi-million dollar campaign and reference it as equivalent to, say, being a governor of a state. That lack of experience is now beginning to tell.

Juan Williams, a frequent Fox News and National Public Radio contributor distilled the current problem down to its core in a comment he made on the June 4th Fox News Sunday show.

I think the problem here is this is an administration that, as Hillary Clinton famously pointed out, you may not want to have answer the 3:00 a.m. call.

These are guys who have tremendous vision about legislative achievements and specific things like health care, going forward on immigration, those difficult issues for America that America so far has failed to deal with.

But when it comes to the crisis, when it comes to the gulf oil spill, the wars, the recession, they feel as if it’s being imposed upon them, rather than taking the helm. I think that’s what Americans are sensing right here. And I think it’s the source of their problem at the moment. Are you able to handle a crisis in a convincing way that inspires confidence? And so far, the president hasn’t done that.

Legislators are not executives, they are process orientated admins. The skill sets for the two are completely different. One set requires decision making of the highest order – sometimes on an instant and unilateral basis. The other set requires slow deliberation, compromise and consensus building. One deals with pure leadership. The other deals with the duller aspects of management. Executives are result oriented. Administrators are entirely process driven. Executives use action as their means of accomplishment. Administrators set goals and work toward them as their means of achievement.

As Williams so aptly points out, this is a president with no executive experience is focused on the management of the legislative process in order to accomplish a litany of political agenda items. But the role of executive stymies him. Consequently, when he can, he avoids it. As with most human beings he stays away from situations in which he isn’t comfortable. And since he’s had little leadership experience, he has no leadership traits to display. At the moment he sounds like any marginal and very junior leader who thinks leadership consists of running around in circles yelling at people and talking tough. The difference is wondering whose butt to kick and knowing which one to kick.

The military would never give a brand new second lieutenant command of an infantry division – a two star general’s job for a reason. He’d first have to prove himself and earn his way up at various levels of command, from platoon to brigade, before he’d even be considered for such a job. What we have right now is the equivalent of a junior officer trying to run a senior command. The results, unfortunately, are as predictable as they are scary.

Leader’s lead, admins process, and when administrators end up in a leader’s position, the process usually fails.

About The Author

Bruce McQuain

Retired infantry officer with 28 years service who blogs regularly at QandO.net on politics and BlackFive.net on military affairs.
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