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Mickey Edwards
Political leader

Mickey Edwards

Former U.S. Congressman, Mickey Edwards is vice president of the Aspen Institute, where he directs the Institute's Rodel Fellowships in Public Leadership.

Archive: Mickey Edwards

In negotiation, don't give away too much

I don't think of it as "a hard line": I think of it as each side openly stating its desired outcome and then...

By Mickey Edwards | February 15, 2011; 12:37 PM ET | Comments (2)

The pros and cons of moving rapidly

Modern technology--fast-moving events and widespread reporting--create a perception that one must jump in quickly, but a wise leader will resist that temptation and...

By Mickey Edwards | February 7, 2011; 03:42 PM ET | Comments (3)

Hu Jintao's classic dilemma

Challenges to his leadership come indirectly, creating situations that box him in without a direct confrontation, as in the military's test of a new weapon apparently without his prior knowledge. But two can play that game...

By Mickey Edwards | January 19, 2011; 10:25 AM ET | Comments (3)

Obama allowed himself to be politically boxed in

While the left railed against tax breaks for "billionaires," that is not what was on the table. In the end, the president had to compromise because he had staked out a position that was untenable, especially in a time that required providing families with...

By Mickey Edwards | December 6, 2010; 02:23 PM ET | Comments (8)

Worse than mere hubris

If one merely thinks a proposal is "a good idea" and could be helpful, it is not leadership but hubris to try to impose it against the public will. In the private sector, that bar of "necessity" is very unlikely ever to be reached...

By Mickey Edwards | November 22, 2010; 11:33 AM ET | Comments (5)

Don't just defer to experts

It is the job of the "leader" to accumulate as many inputs as possible, decide how much weight to give to each view, consider what data points or perspectives are missing, and then come to a decision based on his or her own evaluation of the viable options to be considered. To simply defer to experts is to abdicate...

By Mickey Edwards | September 27, 2010; 02:47 PM ET | Comments (1)

Decentralized leadership can break things, but it can't build them

Real leadership has many parts: framing the message, developing a coherent strategy, setting clear and achievable goals. Too informal or too decentralized a structure...

By Mickey Edwards | September 21, 2010; 02:21 PM ET | Comments (1)

Beat it down to size

In building an organization, sometimes an axe is important a tool as glue.

By Mickey Edwards | July 19, 2010; 12:14 PM ET | Comments (2)

Commanding is not leading

There is a difference between "leading" and exercising the powers of an all-empowered "boss" who may simply issue commands.

By Mickey Edwards | July 15, 2010; 01:59 PM ET | Comments (1)

Vague grievances, uncertain goals

The revolution, at least until the outbreak of war, was largely decentralized; so is today's tea party movement. That is where the similarity ends.

By Mickey Edwards | July 1, 2010; 12:14 PM ET | Comments (4)

Make this about our energy-crazy lifestyle

President Obama should worry less about railing at BP and more about addressing the underlying problem: our unbelievable demand for more and more energy.

By Mickey Edwards | June 15, 2010; 02:21 AM ET | Comments (1)

Getting the facts straight

The blockade was not an 'Israeli blockade' but a blockade established jointly by Israel and Egypt. The leadership challenge, for the president and Congress, is to first gather as much information as possible.

By Mickey Edwards | June 2, 2010; 07:04 AM ET | Comments (2)

A place for smarts, not 'empathy'

Empathy, while a nice quality, may lead to bias and favoritism -- a perfectly acceptable outcome in the political world and a completely unacceptable outcome in the judicial world.

By Mickey Edwards | May 18, 2010; 06:02 AM ET | Comments (0)

Where does she stand?

There is however a substantial downside to having a nominee who has been neither a judge nor an elected official: a lack of familiarity with the nominee's views on some very important matters, including the limits of presidential power.

By Mickey Edwards | May 10, 2010; 01:08 PM ET | Comments (0)

Necessary steps of confession

The Church has no authority other than moral authority; if it permits its moral authority to erode by an unwillingness to admit its errors and undertake reform, it will have no authority at all.

By Mickey Edwards | March 30, 2010; 06:08 AM ET | Comments (1)

Short answer: Never

If corporate executive find they are actually considering putting profit ahead of humanity, they should reflect on how they lost their moral compass.

By Mickey Edwards | March 25, 2010; 06:16 AM ET | Comments (0)

The principal salesman

"The challenge of leadership is to understand what one can do and to focus one's attention on fulfilling that role."

By Mickey Edwards | March 19, 2010; 02:19 PM ET | Comments (0)

Advisors, not deciders

The first test of any leader's abilities is in deciding whose knowledge, experience, and judgment to take into account.

By Mickey Edwards | March 4, 2010; 06:26 AM ET | Comments (1)

By merits, not partisanship

Anybody who opposes legislation for reasons of partisan advantage is guilty of not doing his or her duty as a member of Congress.

By Mickey Edwards | February 23, 2010; 05:54 AM ET | Comments (4)

Limits of a silver tongue

Obama has failed to understand how to effectively deploy his oratorical talents as a president rather than as a campaigner.

By Mickey Edwards | January 19, 2010; 03:30 PM ET | Comments (1)

Exactly what we need

Do we need more Joe Liebermans? Absolutely. We need more congressional leaders who owe their allegiance to the nation, not to a president, a party leader, or a political club.

By Mickey Edwards | December 22, 2009; 06:18 AM ET | Comments (19)

A realist's achievement

Leaders must always weigh and rank priorities because they can seldom get everything they want.

By Mickey Edwards | November 10, 2009; 05:44 AM ET | Comments (0)

Crippling the coach

The problem was not with the decision to address a perceived shortcoming, which had to be done, but in crippling the coach's ability to lead effectively.

By Mickey Edwards | October 28, 2009; 10:53 AM ET | Comments (0)

Intelligent Resolve

A good leader must explain with patience and clarity the reasons for the change, as the public will not follow an uncertain leader.

By Mickey Edwards | September 22, 2009; 06:14 AM ET | Comments (1)

Less Welch, More Aristotle

Business schools need to become educational institutions, not just trade schools.

By Mickey Edwards | September 14, 2009; 02:01 PM ET | Comments (4)

Not Worth Fighting For

I imagine President Obama was not very sorry to see Van Jones leave.

By Mickey Edwards | September 8, 2009; 03:23 PM ET | Comments (5)

Piles of Pygmies

Does the public really want giants? Or does it prefer mirrors?

By Mickey Edwards | August 31, 2009; 08:25 PM ET | Comments (2)

Passion Without Invective

The senator known earlier for his free-wheeling life became a study in serious commitment to transcendent issues.

By Mickey Edwards | August 27, 2009; 10:42 AM ET | Comments (0)

Silent Sabotage

One who bullies, is arbitrary, or otherwise instills fear, is more likely to breed failure than success and may well stir resentment that can lead to betrayal or silent sabotage.

By Mickey Edwards | August 18, 2009; 12:40 PM ET | Comments (1)

Not Whether But How

If a leader decides to take a longer break, whether clearing brush in Texas or going deep-sea fishing, as Harry Truman liked to do, the key is to not break the line of communication.

By Mickey Edwards | August 11, 2009; 07:26 AM ET | Comments (1)

Human Leadership, Not "Business" Leadership

Bank leaders with a concern for country, and not just corporation, should thank workers, reign in risk and donate money either to charity or the Treasury.

By Mickey Edwards | July 20, 2009; 01:10 PM ET | Comments (1)

"Moving On" Not an Option

"Moving on" without a clear repudiation of constitutional violations -- and perhaps appropriate punishment -- is simply not an option if the rule of law is to have any meaning.

By Mickey Edwards | July 13, 2009; 02:03 PM ET | Comments (1)

Calm on the Court

Phil Jackson creates a calm atmosphere in which players are able to remain grounded, self-motivated and avoid frenzy. That's a good recipe for leadership in any arena.

By Mickey Edwards | June 16, 2009; 12:03 PM ET | Comments (0)

A Judge's Special Obligation

Ironically, by emphasizing Judge Sotomayor's personal history, the Obama administration and her supporters have created controversy that need not exist.

By Mickey Edwards | June 8, 2009; 10:41 AM ET | Comments (0)

Law First, Leadership Second

Leadership in a legislative or executive position is one thing; leadership on a court of law, with its more narrowly defined mission, is something quite different.

By Mickey Edwards | May 18, 2009; 12:59 PM ET | Comments (0)

Still Relevant

Dick Cheney continues to speak on public matters, like his predecessors Al Gore or Jimmy Carter. When one's term ends, that person's brain does not dissolve and one's experiences do not suddenly become irrelevant.

By Mickey Edwards | May 12, 2009; 12:19 PM ET | Comments (5)

Painting Yourself Into a Corner

Although brinksmanship and ultimatums is sometimes successful -- as the record of former Secretary of State John Foster Dulles shows -- patience, persistence and finding new options are better ways to proceed.

By Mickey Edwards | May 4, 2009; 02:31 PM ET | Comments (0)

Stop the Worrying

The most important thing for the national leadership to do in a case like this is simply not to lend any credibility to the suggestion that there's anything to panic about.

By Mickey Edwards | April 27, 2009; 03:22 PM ET | Comments (0)

Having Leadership vs. True Leader

Closing the academies is one option, but properly understanding leadership training is another option and maybe the better one.

By Mickey Edwards | April 20, 2009; 02:07 PM ET | Comments (2)

One CEO Overboard

The administration threw one CEO overboard; will that fix the problems?

By Mickey Edwards | March 30, 2009; 01:19 PM ET | Comments (2)

Knowing His Limits

President Obama seems to realize what Bill Clinton did not: that Congress will write any new laws, and that his job is to spell out the grand idea.

By Mickey Edwards | March 2, 2009; 11:06 AM ET | Comments (0)

What Dilemma? What Unity?

What is this "good soldier" nonsense? There is no inherent value in bipartisanship.

By Mickey Edwards | February 23, 2009; 10:56 AM ET | Comments (0)

"Henry V"

Henry V showed us how kings lead -- they are "The Deciders" -- but modern democratic leaders face many more constraints.

By Mickey Edwards | February 17, 2009; 10:33 AM ET | Comments (1)

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