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Paul R. Portney

Paul R. Portney

Paul R. Portney is Dean of the Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona, where he also holds the Halle Chair in Leadership.

Buck the Tide

The hardest thing for any leader to do is buck the overwhelming tide of public opinion. But that's what President Obama must do right now.

He needs to explain something to an outraged public. Namely, it's better to reward (or at least let off the hook) a relatively small number of businessmen who behaved abominably so as to avoid a possible worldwide economic meltdown than it is to punish those businessmen and inflict economic hardship on literally millions of innocent people.

As infuriating as the AIG bailout may be, that's not what the president and the Congress should be focused on. Rather, they must find a way -- collectively -- to restore confidence in the financial system of the world's most powerful country. If they spend their time futzing around with such things as a clawback of the AIG bonuses, they'll be fiddling while Rome burns.

It'll take a ton of guts for President Obama to try to make this case to the American public. But that's leadership, right?

By Paul R. Portney

 |  March 24, 2009; 3:30 PM ET
Category:  Presidential leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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