On Leadership
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Exploring Leadership in the News with Steven Pearlstein and Raju Narisetti

Slade Gorton
Political leader

Slade Gorton

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

Media Giants

"Leadership" is a vastly overworked concept. Every candidate for both houses of Congress promises leadership; none offer to be good followers. The elected leaders of both houses, with the partial exception of the speaker, have almost no sanctions available to force members to bow to their will. And even the president, while he can provide strong leadership to his own appointees, has very little leverage over members of Congress.

So leadership is based primarily on presenting attractive ideas in compelling language to people already disposed in the desired direction by their own inclinations.

Countervailing pressures today, however, are greater than ever before in our history, with the rise of media that are instant, decentralized, and immense in number. Together they vastly outweigh the influence of the president and party leadership combined and make decisive policy making increasingly difficult. Perhaps this is not a bad result.

Finally, we may be seeing leadership from the people themselves. The reaction to the DC attempt to revolutionize the one-sixth of our economy represented by health care seems genuinely, despite the pundits, to be largely self-generated, and may well have more impact on the final result than all of the DC "leadership" combined.

By Slade Gorton

 |  September 2, 2009; 6:22 AM ET
Category:  Politics Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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I can't fathom why your panelists are sparking so few responses. We need men (women)to match our mountains to avoid the long slog ahead that will beggar our country unless crurrent trends are reversed. If not, our dollar will turn to mush and our enemies will eat it (and us)for breakfast.

Posted by: danshanteal | September 5, 2009 12:58 PM
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You stated, "Finally, we may be seeing leadership from the people themselves. The reaction to the DC attempt to revolutionize the one-sixth of our economy... despite the pundits, to be largely self-generated, and may well have more impact on the final result than all of the DC "leadership" combined"

I agree. It is a mob without a mob leader. Republicans of old would have been outraged at this new breed of leader--the mob organizer. Truth mattered back then. Without the truth, these mobs are actually at a great disadvantage. When they break out in violence, which is inevitable, there is no leadership in the republican party to control it.

Be careful what you wish for. Our biggest advantage as a nation used to be the fact that we were united. Divided we fail. Plain and simple. The division you see as an advantage, I see as dangerous and potentially violent--because it is not based on any truths. As such, it can inflame and destroy, but never build. No leader has come forth in the republican party to point that out.

Posted by: tmcproductions2004 | September 3, 2009 7:01 PM
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Leadership, like freedom is wonderful things to talk about. No one knows where the Leader is taking people or from what we want this freedom. These are meaningless but nice words.

What the media is now doing is setting out to destroy anyone who wants to be a leader. A democrat congressman is convicted of murder by a conservative news agency despite the fact that he was completely innocent. A president is literally brought to his knees over what would have been considered a private act by the press. A conservative senate candidate is embarrassed by a thesis he wrote over twenty years ago by a liberal press. A liberal press destroys a woman candidacy. All these attacks are done with the goal of the press to influence an election. This predatory press is so strong that whole new careers are built around political investigators whose job is to “find anything” on the opposition and get it into the news.

The press in this country whether liberal or conservative are tying to control elections thus control the government.

Now we have added the everyman press to this predatory press. No candidate or elected official can walk out their door without the risk of having their picture first on you tube then in the main stream press because someone of the opposite party sees something that they think is inflammatory.

As far as true leadership is concerned the people in this country that are given the best leadership training are the military school graduates. They have made some of the worst presidents and some of the best presidents.

Posted by: RepubADem | September 3, 2009 6:32 AM
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