Eh, what does this guy know about leadership, anyway? He’s only the most widely respected CEO of the last twenty years or so and the founder of a school that develops leaders in the business world, plus the author of a book or two on the subject. Former GE chief Jack Welch unloaded on Barack Obama yesterday for his chronic lack of leadership, manifest mainly through the ever-expanding universe of scapegoats that Obama cites for the failures of his economic policies. Welch thinks that Obama has become positively Nixonian — or maybe worse (via Instapundit):
“It was the insurance executives in health care. It was the bankers in the collapse. It was the oil companies as oil prices go up. It was Congress if things didn’t go the way he wanted. And recently it’s been the Supreme Court,” he said.
“He’s got an enemies list that would make Richard Nixon proud.”
Welch, who helmed GE for 21 years and founded the Jack Welch Management Institute at Strayer University, penned an op-ed article for Reuters with wife Suzy Welch this week in which he tackled the idea of Obama’s enemies list.
“Surely his supporters must think this particular tactic is effective, but there can be no denying that the country is more polarized than when Obama took office,” Welch wrote, making a case for presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
“Great leaders don’t divide,” Welch insisted to Larry Kudlow, and compared Romney’s record in Massachusetts as the model of consensus over Obama’s “divisiveness.” Welch had elaborated on this argument earlier in the week with his Reuters column:
Over the past three years, Obama has taken a sort of divide-and-conquer approach, amassing a list of enemies that would make Richard Nixon proud – bankers, healthcare insurance providers, oil companies, wealthy taxpayers, Congress and, most recently, the Supreme Court. Surely his supporters must think this particular tactic is effective, but there can be no denying that the country is more polarized than when Obama took office.
Without doubt, Romney is not the model leader (his apparent lack of authenticity can be jarring), but he has a quality that would serve him well as president – good old American pragmatism. Perhaps that’s the businessman in him. Or perhaps you just learn to do what you’ve got to do when you’re a GOP governor in the People’s Republic of Massachusetts or the man charged with salvaging the scandal-ridden Salt Lake City Olympics. If Romney’s long record suggests anything, it’s that he knows how to manage people and organizations to get things accomplished without a lot of internecine warfare.
Look, Obama may be a great campaigner and Romney (to date) somewhat the opposite. But neither man is running to be Campaigner-in-Chief.
In politics, as in business, the leader’s job needs to be filled by a leader, and no effective leader, regardless of ideology, keeps an enemies list.
As it happens, I made this same exact point in another context yesterday when talking with a friend about Romney’s list of potential running mates. I suggested that Rick Perry might not be a bad choice, although I’m not sure Perry would be interested in the job. My friend wondered whether Romney would still hold a grudge against Perry for the Texas governor’s sharp attacks last fall and then for his endorsement of Newt Gingrich, but I replied that Romney’s business sense would have him focused on the business choice, not the personal choice, for his running mate. If Perry made the most sense, then Romney would pick Perry; if Bobby Jindal, who endorsed Perry, makes more sense, it will be Jindal. Heck, if Romney thought he could win the election by putting Rick Santorum on the ticket, he’d do it.
That’s the difference that Welch points out in his column and his CNBC appearance. The long-time legislator Obama is only interested in making pitches and divisions; the long-time executive Romney is interested in getting things done.
Update: I wrote “Perry” once where I meant “Jindal.” I’ve fixed it above.