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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review June 26, 2008 / 23 Sivan 5768

Bush failed to hold others responsible for their mistakes, and he let his admirable vice president do too much

By Jonathan V. Last


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The Bush presidency can fairly, if tentatively, be judged a failure.


Many partisans take delight in this judgment. But celebrating President Bush's failures is every bit as counterproductive as trying to excuse them.


It's much more useful to examine Bush's administration to see if systems of decision-making contributed to the president's mistakes.


The most serious complaints about Bush (from the left, at least) often center on questions of intelligence - namely that he never had the horsepower for the job. (That is, when liberals aren't claiming that Bush is dastardly. These two accusations, however, are mutually exclusive.)


Certainly, Bush did not, either as a private citizen or a public figure, display any particular intellectual curiosity. Surely this exacerbated the problems he encountered in office.


But there is an argument to be made that Bush's most serious flaw was not a lack of IQ, but rather use of a management philosophy unsuited to the presidency. Lou and Carl Cannon explore this notion at length in their excellent book, Reagan's Disciple: George W. Bush's Troubled Quest for a Presidential Legacy.


George W. Bush was, the Cannons note, our first M.B.A. president. Politicians of all stripes have talked about the virtues of applying business principles to government for decades. But Bush was the first businessman schooled specifically in management theory to preside from the Oval Office.


Bush's years at Harvard Business School may not have been as formative as, say, Jack Kennedy's days in the Navy. But while there, he was impressed by a certain theory of management.


Reagan's Disciple says that Bush was "particularly enamored" of a class called "human behavior and organization." He also was impressed by the work of management guru Peter Drucker, whose essential principle was that good managers should hire smart workers, give them clear-cut responsibilities, and stay out of their way while holding them accountable.


Drucker's theory of management, controversial when Bush was in grad school, is accepted practice today. And it makes sense - lots of very successful businesses are run just so. But while attractive on its face, Drucker's maxim may not be as compatible with the presidency.


To be sure, some fault lay in the execution: Bush hired many bright, impressive people and delegated an enormous amount of responsibility. But he was maddeningly reluctant to hold subordinates - from Michael Brown to George Tenet to Donald Rumsfeld to Tommy Franks - accountable for their failures.


Yet the larger failure of principle may have manifested itself with Vice President Cheney.


Cheney is in nearly every way an admirable figure. His stint as vice president has been, whatever your opinion of his politics, an example of pure public service: He is one of only a thimbleful of men who sought the vice presidency expressly to serve and not as a step on the political ladder.


And upon assuming the presidency Bush made the more experienced Cheney a hands-on vice president who effectively served as the White House chief of staff.


Or as Carl and Lou Cannon observe, Cheney became chief executive officer and Bush became chairman of the board.


This may seem like a fine arrangement in the abstract. It fits with the Drucker philosophy on the surface: Hire the best guy, give him lots of responsibility, and stay out of his way. But it turns out to have created two systemic problems. First, it may actually be helpful to have a vice president interested in his own political success because this necessarily forces the president to be more attuned to public opinion.


But more important is the structural incompatibility of the two jobs. A chief of staff is an employee who serves at the pleasure of the president. The vice presidency, on the other hand, is a constitutional office. A chief of staff can be fired. A vice president cannot.


If the vice president is acting as chief of staff, it creates a situation where one cannot have disagreement between the president and the man responsible for running the White House, because there is no practical way to resolve such a disagreement.


And disagreement is one of the necessary ingredients for change. One of the striking features of the Bush administration is a dearth of disagreement among the president's advisers.


Disagreement is not always productive, mind you. But when a situation goes sideways, as the Iraq project did in late 2003 and early 2004, disagreement is vital to finding a solution.


George W. Bush is neither the bumbling rube nor the evil genius that his detractors often claim he is. But his administration is an example of how decision-making systems create their own logic, which can cause even smart and well-meaning men to fail.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Jonathan V. Last is a columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Comment by clicking here.


Previously:

02/18/08 GOP will unify as Obama and Clinton continue to vie
12/13/07 Fun begins as races tighten and shift
12/05/07 Iran's future: Would lower fertility rates lead to stability?
11/01/07 Nobel Prize in Economics — where Team USA still dominates the game
10/25/07 Handicapping the GOP's presidential horse race
10/11/07 Germany's Turks provide a lesson on immigration
09/13/07 British battle can offer us a perspective on casualties
09/12/07 Alas, GOP seems set to take hit in Senate
08/30/07 Europeans have supplanted backbones with capitulation
08/24/07 Politics holds the key to ensuring a healthy growth in population
08/17/07 Finessing the Democratic center
08/10/07 Woohoo! Satire seeing a revival
07/31/07 Historical model: For Obama, it's Carter
07/26/07 Baseball, apple pie, a 2nd chance
07/24/07 Harry Potter and the alchemy theory
07/06/07 Life is hard — and often short. The perils of professional wrestling
06/21/07 After Bush: Gingrich and others worry that his shortcomings could have a far-reaching effect on the GOP
03/09/07 Why the British outclass us in acting
01/23/07 Romney: Seriously great, but with baggage
12/23/06 When truth is transpicuous
12/05/06 A realistic plan: Split the country in two
11/08/06 We could easily pull out of Korea and let China have regional hegemony. But would it be the right thing?
10/24/06 The decline of revolution
10/18/06 Why the free market is king
08/07/06 Democracy, of itself, not solution to all problems
08/01/06 We get the movies we deserve
07/27/06 How long will U.S. empire last?


© 2006, The Philadelphia Inquirer. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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