Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Why Rudy? II
Over at the Corner, Ramesh and Andy McCarthy have had a vigorous exchange about the post below. I won't recapitulate the entire thing: Just start at the bottom and scroll up. But here's how it ends:
Ramesh, you are now changing the subject. You initially asked how Giuliani had distinguished himself from the rest of the field, such that he rated being made chief executive. David gave you an example. Instead of saying yes, that's right, or no, that's wrong, you respond that his undeniable executive accomplishments and effectiveness should be ignored because the radios weren't interoperable on 9/11
I've heard from some other Rudy supporters on this issue, one of whom made this point:
[Ramesh] questions Rudy's competence as a manager on the strength of one accusation, which amounts to a procurement failure. Fine. The buck stops with the boss, I won't dispute that. But let's try to be fair. In any other circumstance, a chief executive mired in that level of detail would be accused of micromanagement, with some justice.
No mayor or governor or president has the time to directly oversee the purchase of equipment, no matter how important. It's an impossible standard to set. The only reason to set it is to undercut the credentials of someone you've already decided against.
How do we usually evaluate chief executives at that level? By their record at setting the right priorities, picking the right people for the right jobs, and striking the right balance between letting them do their jobs and ensuring that they carry out the boss's priorities.
By that standard — the only just standard — does anyone in this race have a record that even comes close to comparing to Rudy's?
My own response would be as follows:
Ramesh's jibe may be more of a debating point than a considered argument, but it should remind us of a deep truth: We are dealing with life and death issues here. You can claim (if you want) that Rudy Giuliani got one important decision very wrong. He failed to foresee a potentially horrific problem, and so did not act, and so perhaps lives were lost unnecessarily. That's a negative to offset his record of getting the big decisions right.
My question: Where are the other candidates' records of getting the big decisions right - or of making big decisions at all?
I'll credit Sen. John McCain with being an early and wise advocate of the strategy now working in Iraq. But he was an advocate - he never had the responsibility for transforming ideas into results. Maybe the world would be a better place if the voters had assigned him that responsibility seven years ago. But they did not - and so we can only speculate now about the kind of executive McCain would be.
Who else in the field can claim even so much as that?
In the realm of national security, there are things a president must be able to do. It's not impossible that some of the other candidates in the race may be able to do them. We can always hope for the best
With Rudy, though, you already know the answer - and you have a better guarantee than hope.
12/18 11:16 AM