Monday, July 09, 2007

Ronnie by The Vegas Art Guy

Now that school is out, I was able to start some serious reading. I just finished a book by Peter Wallison that talked about how Reagan governed in DC and why this style was both his greatest strength and his weakness.

Unlike many Presidents, Reagan came into office with not only a clear plan of what he wanted to do, but he also knew how he wanted to do it. He focused on a few clear goals, reducing the size of government, lowering taxes, defeating the USSR and allowing people to reach their full potential here in the USA.

He would then articulate those ideas to the members of his cabinet, who would then implement his ideas. As long as the end was accomplished, he allowed the people under him to come up with the best way to implement what he wanted done. By delegating his authority to the experts (something that good business managers do all the time) Reagan was able to focus his attention on the big picture. This worked very well for the first six years of his administration. Because Reagan had a set plan from day one, his administration were able to keep the press's attention on what he wanted to accomplish and why, in effect the press was not driving the activity of the administration like they had with many others.

This policy also hamstrung him with Iran/Contra. Because he did not involve himself in the day to day dealings of everything that went on (and realistically, he couldn't) and because he was not cynical by nature, it allowed the possibility of this scandal to occur.

Reagan gave conflicting testimony because he was unaware of what Poindexter and North were doing and why they were doing it. Now before you start sputtering and saying something along the lines of "Well he should have known!" ask yourself this. Would Anne M. Mulcahy be expected to know what's going on at every Xerox account in N. America? Of course not! That's the job of the Field and District Managers, her job is to keep the big picture in mind and to keep Xerox growing and thriving. You can't expect her to know what's going on in Las Vegas any more than we should expect the President to know what every person in their administration is doing at any one time.

Once Reagan got the full picture of what happened (not easy because North and Poindexter covered everything up) he was able to dismiss them, apologize and get his administration back on track.

Reagan was truly a great president, but he like all great leaders was not perfect and had his failures and shortcomings.