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Unqualified Leadership

Ever wonder why Congress just cannot seem to grasp things which are obvious to you and me? I do not mean just one party or the other, but Congress' long-standing tradition of being clueless about what America needs and wants. Every so often, folks get fed up and chuck out most of Congress - sorry Mister Obama, but "Change" was a campaign theme long before you ever started using the word - but the new crop never seems to be much better than the one they replace. I can try to explain that condition by noting a real-world case.

Without mentioning the specific company, because it's actually a pretty common occurrence anyway, my wife works for a dishonest moron. I say this not only because I have a strong dislike for anyone who insults someone's race on a regular basis, particularly when they are harassing my wife, but because those two characteristics, corruption and stupidity, are annoyingly common in some places. He does not understand business in general, to say nothing of his company's needs and key metrics. He has pets on the staff, and actually thinks the other employees won't notice that he treats the two groups different as night and day, which is not only wrong but stupid, because because favoring the young & cute usually means you are dissing the experienced and professional, which in the long term costs you success as a company, to sy nothing of the fact that no one respects an unprofessional boss. This branch manager is costing his company money, but they hired him because they wanted cheap, and so they are also too cheap to hire proper auditors to see who's a top performer, and who's trying to steal them blind. He's good at selling a line to his own boss, so he manages to keep a job he could not do properly on his best day. Well folks, this guy will never be a winner in business, but he's a good representation for the average Congressman.

Let's have a look at the resumes of the top dogs in the House and Senate, shall we?

Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi - born 1940, graduated Trinity College 1962. Intern to Senator Brewster, then moved to New York as a housewife, then to San Francisco, where she was elected to City Council and the County Board of Supervisors, in 1969. Won special election to Congress in 1987 (was protégé of outgoing Rep. Sala). Re-elected 10 times. House Minority Whip 2001, House Minority leader 2002, Speaker of the House 2007-date.

House Minority Leader, John Boehner - born 1949, graduated Xavier University 1977. Salesman, later President of Nucite Sales. Elected Union Township trustee 1982, Ohio State Legislature 1984. Elected to Congress, 1990. House Republican Conference Chairman, 1995. House Majority Leader, 2006. House Minority Leader, 2007-date.

Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid - born 1939, graduated Utah State, 1962. J.D. George Washington University, 1964. Elected Nevada State Assembly, 1967. Elected Lt. Governor, 1970. Chairman, Nevada Gaming Commission, 1977. Elected to Congress, 1982. Elected to the U.S. Senate, 1986. Senate Democratic Whip, 1999. Senate Minority Leader, 2005. Senate Majority Leader, 2007-date.

Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell - born 1942, graduated University of Louisville 1964, J.D. University of Kentucky 1967. Six months active service U.S. Army Reserve, 1967. Intern to Senator Cooper 1968. Assistant to Senator Cook, then Deputy Assistant Attorney General U.S. 1975. Elected Jefferson County Judge/Executive 1978. Elected to the U.S. Senate, 1984. Majority Whip, 2004. Senate Minority Leader, 2007-date.

There you go, folks, the top four people who make the laws governing more things in your life than even the President or the Supreme Court. How you get paid, how you pay taxes, how much of each, how you are protected (or not) from those forces and those people who would hurt you and your family, and so on. Only one of the four ever held a job in the real world, and that long ago and only for a short while. Is it really surprising, then, that the peope in the House and Senate are so incapable of comprehending what folks really need, much less care about making it a priority in their office? Sure, these people have aides and staff, most of whom are also political mandarins, hoping for their own eventual election to office on a resume which has no real work experience. I am sure they mean well, but they really have no skills relevant to making things work. They know how to take your money, they know how to make speeches, and they know how to point fingers. But they can only be counted to put their self-interest first, and to make mistakes as they blunder along. Just something to think about.


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Comments (15)

Ah, the working man's chick... (Below threshold)

Ah, the working man's chicken hawk argument: only those who have worked in the private sector are deemed qualified to pass laws affecting those who do.

Beyond that, to your belief that those lacking 'real' world experience should not be in positions of such influence, keep in mind that working in the 'real' world in no way is a predictor of common sense, perspective or, for that matter, of one's ability to do anything, as evidenced by your wife's boss. Tom DeLay had private sector experience but we're certainly off without him in the House. And where exactly has Bush's time in the private world helped us? His administrative skills? His budgeting prowess? His ability to persuade people to support him?

Likewise, one doesn't need to have worked in the private sector to understand what those who do go through. I didn't go to medical school but I have an understanding and appreciation of those who did.

If your point was to poke fun at those four, there are much better ways of doing so than their respective lack of private sector experience.

Steve, Steve, Steve ...... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

Steve, Steve, Steve ...

First, I disagree with your examples. I think Bush's business experience and Delay's Business experience DID make them effective. It is your bias which blinds you. But even if I grant that a given person with business experience was a flop, that hardly supports your implied conclusion, that we should not seek that quality in our Congress. It's rather well established that our esteemed Representatives and Senators are not inclined to see things as regular folks do, and accordingly their legislation seldom does much good. The whole noise about Earmarks, Special Interest lobbies, and of course the complaint against 'politics as usual' should clue you in on that point.

Let's use your 'medical school' example. You think it's enough to "have an understanding and appreciation of those who did", but how does that qualify you, for example, to know which route to take for pursuing a cure for, say, Breast Cancer, or which regimen is most likely to be effective in preventing Alzheimer's? Such decisions require specific medical knowledge, not just "appreciation" for people who became doctors. And if a Congressman wants to vote on a medical issue but refuses to speak with doctors, what does that say about his state of mind?

Congress is corrupt and incompetent. That was and is my message, and the problem is not the party or the individual cases, but the fact that the system has been broken for generations, and no one is likely to change it anytime soon.

Doesn't our constitution sa... (Below threshold)

Doesn't our constitution say something about "Of the people"?..dumb me, I thought that meant something about being mindful of the people's needs. Like in "touch" .

I suspect that the founders... (Below threshold)

I suspect that the founders thought that most elected officials would hold office for a term or two, and then get on with their lives. I don't think they anticipated having the country run by career politicians.

George Washington was a perfect example of this. Dude could have been elected president for as long as he lived, but he served two terms and then voluntarily stepped aside. Would that more of our leaders would follow his example.

The old "Qualifications" ar... (Below threshold)
Codekeyguy Author Profile Page:

The old "Qualifications" argument.
Two anecdotes:
1-Regarding teachers-Them that can, do; them that can't, teach; them that can't teach; administrate(read "become congresscritters")

2-I worked for a "large government agency" for 30 years. At one time, the Harvard Business School proposed that managers only needed "people skills". It was not necessary to posess specific job skills to perform the "management" function. This was adopted by my agency, and all managers now hold a "301" code, which is "Management" (Think MOS in the army) Harvard wrote off the principle in about 5 years after they proposed it, but my esteemed agency is still in operation under it. Since in most jobs, the "boss" is your source for information on "how to", if your boss doesn't know "How To", what do you do. Managers are, first and foremost, TEACHERS, and only secondarily managers. Mr. Drummond's point is that politicians are NOT knowledgable teachers. (I'm not picking on teachers here, but on MANAGERS!!!)

DJ:I got to hand i... (Below threshold)


I got to hand it to you, thinking Bush was effective when there's so much evidence to the contrary. As far as DeLay, he was sure effective at helping the GOP lose their majority. If Bush and DeLay were effective, that's effectiveness I can do without.

You're right that I don't think we should seek those with a private sector background, as that by itself doesn't mean someone shares my values. David Geffen and Bill Gates worked in the private sector, do you want them representing you in Congress?

As for 'regular folks', that's simply a euphemism for 'folks who want the same thing I do', and thus, when Congress does anything you don't like, they're by definition not interested in regular folks. The problem (for you) is that there are an awful lot of people who don't want what you want and are thus quite happy when Congress pisses you off (like, for example, people who are the beneficiary of earmarks). To them, you are the problem, not Congress. Your feelings are akin to the office worker who defines 'office politics' as what others do, never as what he himself does to advance himself or his interests, or the teenage girl who defines cliques as what other girls belong to, and never applies that term to her and her friends. It's all in the eyes of the beholder. You say corruption, others say constituent service. You say dirty lobbyists, others (including you, depending on the issue) say having someone represent and advance my interests before Congress.

And let me ask you this: Bush's policies are opposed by clear majorities of the American public: we don't support his stance on immigration, on increasing spending, his handling of the Plame kerfuffle, his handling of detainees, just to name a few... should we infer from this that Bush has no appreciation for us regular folks?

OreganMuse, you hit the nai... (Below threshold)

OreganMuse, you hit the nail right on the head. The founders of our country would be sick looking at how business runs in Washington. I don't think they envisioned people serving in Congress for 20, 30, or 40 years. But let's all hold our collective breath until Congress votes for term limits.

Steve, you ignorant topic-h... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

Steve, you ignorant topic-hijacker (with apologies to Dan Ackroyd). Your BDS has so taken over, that even when the topic is Congress, for you it's still all about Bush.

Yer gonna miss him bad, I can tell ...

DJ, lefties only shoot with... (Below threshold)

DJ, lefties only shoot with blanks. They never come prepared just juvenile name calling and old arguments with no facts. ww

Wow, DJ, you really showed ... (Below threshold)

Wow, DJ, you really showed Steve. I love how you countered his argument point by point, showing him exactly where and why he was wrong.

Or you called him a big poopy head and took your ball and pouted all the way home. Score one for the "adults".

Liberal lefties and adults ... (Below threshold)

Liberal lefties and adults is an oxymoron. ww

DJ: yeah, I'm hijacking a t... (Below threshold)

DJ: yeah, I'm hijacking a thread asking if you're applying the same standard to the President as you are to Congress, namely, that if Congress' refusal to do what you want is evidence that they don't understand 'regular folks', shouldn't the same be said about Bush given that he too refuses to do what regular folk want. As Max put it, you're free to respond by showing how Bush does in fact 'get it' when it comes to us regular folk, but you seem to not be interested in doing so. And of course, while you're also free to hold Congress to a higher standard, doing so puts your contempt of Congress (and idolation of Bush) in perspective.

Max/Steve/Liberals in gener... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

Max/Steve/Liberals in general, you know, your arguments would be a whole lot more persuasive if you could manage to address the topic at hand, instead of pretending it's whatever you want it to be.

This is not BarackObama.com, after all.

Not that this will do any g... (Below threshold)

Not that this will do any good, but I'm up for wasting a few more minutes...

Calling me a liberal, that's rich. I know you think anyone who disagrees with you must be a liberal, but some of us are just conservatives who don't figuratively have our noses up Bush's rear end. To turn your comment right back at you, when did Kevin turn this site into Bush-is-the-greatest-President-ever.com?

I did address the topic, twice. I not only criticized your belief that private sector experience should be a requirement for Congress, I also pointed out that a number of those in Congress (and the Executive Branch) with private sector experience have turned out to be just as bad or worse as those lacking such private sector experience, and I closed with pointing out the fallacy of your thinking a lack of Congressmen with private sector experience has anything to do with you not getting from Congress what you want.

Of course, you are free to counter any of my arguments... or you can just go back to calling me a liberal.... your choice.

You're a bad liar, Steve.</... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

You're a bad liar, Steve.






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Section Editor: Maggie Whitton

Editors: Jay Tea, Lorie Byrd, Kim Priestap, DJ Drummond, Michael Laprarie, Baron Von Ottomatic, Shawn Mallow, Rick, Dan Karipides, Michael Avitablile, Charlie Quidnunc, Steve Schippert

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