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Slade Gorton
Political leader

Slade Gorton

A former U.S. Senator and Washington State Attorney General, Slade Gorton served on the 9/11 Commission.

The Non-Existent Whip

"Leadership" is a broad and imprecise term. President Obama is the "leader" of a vast administration that should look to him for policy guidance and leadership. There has been no mutiny in the ranks of the administration over that guidance. But the Congress, much less the private sector, is not in that category.

This former senator never regarded a president of either party as a "leader" who had any disciplinary hold over him. Nor does the Constitution imagine any such role for the president. In fact even the elected leaders of the two parties in the two houses are almost totally lacking in such authority and make a terrible mistake in attempting to exercise that that they might.

What is the president to do with a recalcitrant freshman Democratic House member from a district carried by John McCain? Tell him that he'll campaign for his opponent next year?

Leadership at this level is persuasiveness in selling sound policy, not cracking a non-existent whip. And all the more so with the private sector. Only a dictator with the force of the state behind him could force a private interest to abandon its cause and forfeit its First Amendment rights to speak out against proposals with which it disagrees.

Successful leaders lead, they don't threaten.

By Slade Gorton

 |  August 18, 2009; 12:35 PM ET
Category:  Leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Credibility, Not Threats | Next: Silent Sabotage


Please report offensive comments below.

Where there's a whip there's a way - Lord of the Rings.

President Obama's Presidency has been cast as being a life perserver - not as a tyrant. Save the economy - save my business - save my job - save my stocks. So switching over to something more assertive even aggressive is recasting and it will take time.

Posted by: agapn9 | August 18, 2009 5:11 PM
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