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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.

Archive: Slade Gorton

Offering middle ground

George Cohen, unfortunately, will not see or speak to the most recalcitrant partisans on either side, but only with their selected representatives...

By Slade Gorton | March 9, 2011; 04:56 PM ET | Comments (0)

Walker must win hands down

Nothing Governor Walker can do will cause rank and file union members to implement his taxpayer-oriented policies...

By Slade Gorton | February 28, 2011; 06:34 PM ET | Comments (18)

Democracy will be met

An ayatollah or a Gaddafi will hold onto power because he is ruthless enough to shoot his own people in the streets in the name of a real ideology, perverted as it may be...

By Slade Gorton | February 22, 2011; 10:03 AM ET | Comments (3)

This is not the time to compromise

There is no valid parallel between the outset of the Obama Administration in 2009 and the opening positions of the Republican House this year...

By Slade Gorton | February 15, 2011; 02:22 PM ET | Comments (7)

Looting intellectual property

Rather than protesting the value of their currency--which is, after all, a vital national interest--the United States each year should determine the value of stolen and extorted IP and...

By Slade Gorton | January 18, 2011; 10:24 AM ET | Comments (2)

Making good on a promise

Republican candidates almost universally promised to repeal the Obama health-care bill during the course of last year's campaign, and that is a promise they must keep...

By Slade Gorton | January 4, 2011; 11:22 AM ET | Comments (19)

The agenda setters: Tea Partiers

They represented the largest genuine mass movement in generations to enter the political arena with a clear goal...

By Slade Gorton | December 20, 2010; 04:05 PM ET | Comments (10)

The tax cuts show progress

This is the essence of compromise, and gives us at least some hope of a constructive next year or so, perhaps even including...

By Slade Gorton | December 7, 2010; 11:56 AM ET | Comments (2)

The next Congress provides the best opportunity

The American people are conflicted between a horror of mounting debt and deficits and their desire not to have their own benefits slashed, so neither party can be successful alone...

By Slade Gorton | November 30, 2010; 11:34 AM ET | Comments (0)

A problem of political correctness

The mistake is not so much in the technology, which is seemingly effective, as it is in the rigid political correctness that all travelers be treated as equally threatening...

By Slade Gorton | November 22, 2010; 02:14 PM ET | Comments (2)

There is no dilemma

Thoughtful leaders should and do resign after losses far more modest than Nancy Pelosi's of last week. But Republicans, of course, are delighted at her candidacy, delighted at the prospect of her symbolizing Congressional Democrats for two more years. And House Democrats are in disarray, most of them privately wanting to see her back but afraid to say. At least for the moment...

By Slade Gorton | November 8, 2010; 05:56 PM ET | Comments (1)

It's not what he says, it's whether he means it

President Obama will say, as all presidents have under similar circumstances, that he congratulates the winners, has heard the message sent by the voters and looks forward to working with the new Congress for the good of the American people. He will then visit countries where he is more popular...

By Slade Gorton | November 1, 2010; 03:14 PM ET | Comments (1)

Dramatic changes are possible

President Obama campaigned on the promise to be a post-partisan president and governed from the beginning as a hard partisan, so dramatic changes are certainly possible. After November, Republicans will be far stronger than they are now, but they clearly will not be...

By Slade Gorton | October 25, 2010; 04:53 PM ET | Comments (2)

Popularity is easy when troubles run deep

In times of deep troubles about which there is a high degree of public consciousness, leaders like Chris Christie can make tough decisions and gain at least temporary popularity. Winston Churchill is the perfect example. Such decisions are much more difficult when the dangers are either obscure or distant. Under those circumstances only the bravest of leaders, unafraid of losing their offices, will speak...

By Slade Gorton | October 12, 2010; 09:49 AM ET | Comments (1)

When political realities trump good advice

The president should always have the courage to overrule his advisers when he believes them wrong; Lincoln is the great example. In this case, however, the president overruled his generals not because he disagreed with their military advice but because of political reality...

By Slade Gorton | September 27, 2010; 03:07 PM ET | Comments (0)

Good policy makes good politics

A losing incumbent may be able to console himself over having lost if all along the way he championed what he was convinced was the right course, but can hardly do so if he loses even after compromising his principles. It now appears that an abnormally large number of incumbents...

By Slade Gorton | September 14, 2010; 09:38 AM ET | Comments (0)

Leadership is more than maximizing profits

The First Amendment allows Craigslist to post what it will, but it doesn't make it socially responsible. Nor does it justify whining about criticism that asks for that responsibility. Leadership calls for far more than simply maximizing profit...

By Slade Gorton | September 7, 2010; 04:12 PM ET | Comments (0)

Democratic leadership has lost its way

The failure of Congress to deal with climate change and immigration, among other challenges, is not due to its being in session too little of the time, but to the nature of those issues and the mood of the country.

By Slade Gorton | August 17, 2010; 08:48 AM ET | Comments (0)

No choice but to remove Hurd

As much as they may have wished to retain him it is impossible to see how they could have done so without severely undercutting his ability to lead and the corporation's reputation.

By Slade Gorton | August 10, 2010; 04:58 PM ET | Comments (0)

CEOs get booed when they lose too

Soon, we hope, a handful of CEOs will begin to invest and to hire and we'll have heroes again, however briefly.

By Slade Gorton | July 27, 2010; 10:46 AM ET | Comments (0)

Not what the 9/11 Commission recommended

The problem is not size, but clear lines of authority, which are spectacularly missing in the intelligence community.

By Slade Gorton | July 19, 2010; 01:48 PM ET | Comments (3)

What constituents want

I think we should treat the legislation at face value, as a sincere attempt to do something about a major threat to the lawful citizens of Arizona, and not just a disguised slap at the feds.

By Slade Gorton | July 13, 2010; 03:24 PM ET | Comments (17)

The power of uncertainty

Business investors hate uncertainties over which they have no control. Unless the administration can placate business leaders investment will remain weak.

By Slade Gorton | July 8, 2010; 11:32 AM ET | Comments (0)

A term too long

Senator Byrd, like Senator Thurmond ahead of him, served at least one full term too long, both for the institution and for their states, mostly as a result of ego and/or record seeking.

By Slade Gorton | June 29, 2010; 10:29 AM ET | Comments (7)

No better than Greece

A true stimulus would be directed at the encouragement of long-term private employment.

By Slade Gorton | June 22, 2010; 03:34 AM ET | Comments (0)

First prize to Tony Hayward

It's their well, their incompetence that caused the disaster, and their utter inability to limit the damage that has us still facing a seemingly unending catastrophe.

By Slade Gorton | June 15, 2010; 02:47 AM ET | Comments (2)

More than a 'tut-tut'

The Obama administration should make clear that anti-Israel activists are to blame.

By Slade Gorton | June 1, 2010; 03:17 PM ET | Comments (29)

Liability for elected leaders

While some elected leaders have Ivy League backgrounds, few flaunt it and many disguise it.

By Slade Gorton | May 18, 2010; 05:58 AM ET | Comments (0)

A poor choice

Kagan's nomination reinforces a group already overwhelmingly composed of those from a single academic background that has given them not the slightest inkling of how the vast majority of Americans think and live.

By Slade Gorton | May 10, 2010; 02:56 PM ET | Comments (3)

A dead cause

An expansion of areas open to offshore drilling has almost certainly been destroyed by BP, and its pursuit for the next several years by Republicans or anyone else is pointless.

By Slade Gorton | May 4, 2010; 01:57 PM ET | Comments (0)

The realistic leader

Is it likely that a free country will be willing to make major present sacrifices against an uncertain and distant future? The leaders sees 'through a glass darkly.'

By Slade Gorton | April 13, 2010; 05:58 AM ET | Comments (0)

Hide, deny and obfuscate

The Catholic church is too strong to have gone out of business under past questionable popes, but it can certainly be weakened by indifferent leadership in a time of crisis.

By Slade Gorton | March 30, 2010; 06:16 AM ET | Comments (2)

Democratic fortunes

Repeal is unlikely, impossible before 2013 at the earliest. Nevertheless, it may be a good rallying cry between now and November.

By Slade Gorton | March 23, 2010; 08:47 PM ET | Comments (0)

Friends versus rivals

We should not treat friends and rivals in the same fashion.

By Slade Gorton | March 16, 2010; 05:26 AM ET | Comments (11)

The real political statement: Avatar

'Avatar' succeeded in delivering a political message -- of anti-Americanism -- where 'Hurt Locker' failed.

By Slade Gorton | March 9, 2010; 06:19 AM ET | Comments (30)

Not a character flaw

I am not an supporter of most of President Obama's policies, but I wish him every success in fighting the habit.

By Slade Gorton | March 2, 2010; 05:31 AM ET | Comments (0)

An easy answer

Republicans should stick to their point that the president is advocating a system that will will cost most Americans more and give them less.

By Slade Gorton | February 23, 2010; 06:19 AM ET | Comments (6)

Senator Palin, maybe

Palin continues to rally the enthusiasm of her myriad of admirers and cause her liberal critics to froth at the mouth.

By Slade Gorton | February 9, 2010; 05:59 AM ET | Comments (12)

Wiser heads

Americans who care about their nation have less difficulty facing tough choices than do their representatives in Congress.

By Slade Gorton | February 2, 2010; 05:46 AM ET | Comments (0)

Take the congressional lead

If President Obama wants to turn failure into success, he must lead the Democrats in Congress, not follow them.

By Slade Gorton | January 21, 2010; 08:15 AM ET | Comments (2)

No exceptions for Congress

The nation cannot be deprived of the opportunity for a frank and open discussion of race. Trent Lott should have kept his job -- and Harry Reid should not lose his.

By Slade Gorton | January 14, 2010; 10:03 AM ET | Comments (1)

Quick AND effective

The instinct to react immediately may be inborn, but the ability to react effectively is learned.

By Slade Gorton | December 30, 2009; 07:41 AM ET | Comments (1)

Ten more like him

Had we had ten Joe Liebermans, evenly divided, we would have a more modest and far better result on health care reform.

By Slade Gorton | December 22, 2009; 06:23 AM ET | Comments (5)

Maximum mea culpa

The best defense by far would have been not to have offended.

By Slade Gorton | December 9, 2009; 10:01 AM ET | Comments (0)

A real opportunity

The state dinner is a real opportunity for the president to strengthen a vitally important relationship with India.

By Slade Gorton | November 23, 2009; 03:15 PM ET | Comments (1)

The barest compromise

A 220-215 win on the House bill shows that Democratic leaders gave no more than they absolutely had to.

By Slade Gorton | November 10, 2009; 05:51 AM ET | Comments (2)

The messy avenue of persuasion

The public sees a decisive and effective institution that more often than not attains its goals.

By Slade Gorton | November 3, 2009; 06:52 AM ET | Comments (0)

Precursor to firing

When a single individual can bring in someone "to compensate for your weakness," you're not the leader.

By Slade Gorton | October 27, 2009; 06:10 AM ET | Comments (0)

No back-seat drivers

Leadership is easier to discern Sullenberger's case, and in sports and war, than it is in politics and public policy because it is clear cut and unequivocal.

By Slade Gorton | October 20, 2009; 06:32 AM ET | Comments (0)

Unpleasant Necessity

I have always disliked presiding at meeting, but a leader must attend frequent meetings and be a fine listener in order to be successful.

By Slade Gorton | October 16, 2009; 12:08 PM ET | Comments (0)

Diplomacy's Remote Chance

Diplomacy and negotiation are appropriate as long as they promise any chance of success, but our long history with such approaches show that chance with Ahmedinejad is remote.

By Slade Gorton | October 2, 2009; 04:25 PM ET | Comments (0)

The Difficult Road

If a policy is not working and will not work, a president, like a CEO, must act decisively, explain his decision clearly and move on. Few have ever been willing to do so.

By Slade Gorton | September 22, 2009; 06:32 AM ET | Comments (1)

Shareholders First

Wall Street leaders have a duty not to the "long-term health of the economy," but to their shareholders. If they work toward that interest, the national economy is almost certain to benefit.

By Slade Gorton | September 15, 2009; 06:36 AM ET | Comments (7)

Media Giants

The media today -- instant, decentralized, immense -- has more influence than the president and congressional leadership, making decisive policy increasingly difficult.

By Slade Gorton | September 2, 2009; 06:22 AM ET | Comments (3)

No Victory on the Cheap

We learned in Iraq that we cannot fight a successful war at half speed; only with the surge did we see our way to at least a quasi-victory. And that is the only way out in Afghanistan.

By Slade Gorton | August 25, 2009; 11:02 AM ET | Comments (10)

The Non-Existent Whip

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.

By Slade Gorton | August 18, 2009; 12:35 PM ET | Comments (1)

Recess for a Reason

One need not be "plugged in" while on recess to continue learning and effectively do one's job.

By Slade Gorton | August 12, 2009; 10:30 AM ET | Comments (0)

Self-Created Problems

Better to be silent and thought insensitive than to speak out and prove it.

By Slade Gorton | August 4, 2009; 10:28 AM ET | Comments (1)

Set Smaller Goals

Obama should consider that he might be wrong in pushing a major initiative. During a recession a more modest set of goals may be more appropriate,

By Slade Gorton | July 28, 2009; 10:41 AM ET | Comments (0)

Fantasies of Revenge

The one certainty about using the criminal justice system to settle political and policy disputes is that it will not "clear the air."

By Slade Gorton | July 14, 2009; 07:34 AM ET | Comments (29)

Run For Senate First

Sarah Palin most likely won't be a serious candidate for president, but she could be a candidate for the Senate--the one place from which she can be seriously considered for a presidential run two or three election cycles from now.

By Slade Gorton | July 7, 2009; 12:49 PM ET | Comments (0)

A Clinton Exception?

It's difficult, in the light of the Clinton presidency, to assert the proposition that Americans "disqualify from top leadership positions people who haven't lived by the highest moral standards."

By Slade Gorton | June 29, 2009; 02:21 PM ET | Comments (5)

Objective Interpretation

It's fine for elected officials to use their personal histories in campaigns. However, prospective justices should not boast about their pasts-their job is to interpret the law and the Constitution objectively.

By Slade Gorton | June 9, 2009; 05:52 PM ET | Comments (0)

A Risky Investment

The administration is like the gambler who doubles his bet after every unsuccessful roll of the dice. It has so much invested in GM now that it can't be anything other than the principal shareholder.

By Slade Gorton | June 2, 2009; 11:25 AM ET | Comments (0)

When "Short-Termism" Makes Sense

Boards should start off new administrations with the express understanding that the CEO's term is limited, and exceptions should be rare.

By Slade Gorton | May 27, 2009; 10:50 AM ET | Comments (0)

One-Year Moratorium

Cheney is not the first ex-president or ex-vice president to be a vocal critic, but it might be wise for such ex-leaders to wait a year after leaving office before going public with their views.

By Slade Gorton | May 12, 2009; 04:27 PM ET | Comments (10)

Brass Tacks

The Times, with its own problems taking precedence, can't be forced to continue to pay for a bad bargain.

By Slade Gorton | May 5, 2009; 03:28 PM ET | Comments (0)

ROTC at Public Colleges

And will Tom Ricks then require that all colleges and universities that accept federal funds also accept ROTC units, as requested, by each of the three services?

By Slade Gorton | April 21, 2009; 04:04 PM ET | Comments (0)

Paper Tiger Obama?

Obama's reaction to the North Korean missile test will indicate his direction of foreign policy, and whether or not he is regarded as a paper tiger.

By Slade Gorton | April 6, 2009; 06:36 PM ET | Comments (4)

Now It's Obama's Responsibility

While it is reasonable for GM's de facto board of directors -- the U.S. government -- to fire Wagoner, the Obama administration will now be responsible if Wagoner's successor fails.

By Slade Gorton | March 31, 2009; 03:28 PM ET | Comments (0)

Stop the Demogoguery

While President Obama has been almost as irresponsible as the loudest voices in Congress, it's not too late for him to show the leadership for which he was elected and become part of the solution rather than of the problem.

By Slade Gorton | March 22, 2009; 09:25 PM ET | Comments (1)

Give Back

College coaches who make more than full professors at their schools should think about giving up some of their salary to support struggling sports programs or sports scholarships.

By Slade Gorton | March 16, 2009; 01:50 PM ET | Comments (0)

Shareholder Control

The cure for Wall Street is far greater shareholder rights and controls over total executive compensation.

By Slade Gorton | February 2, 2009; 03:25 PM ET | Comments (2)

Spectacular Success and Failure

He got some things right -- the initial Afghanistan and Iraq campaigns, his own reelection, and the Iraq surge -- but others disastrously wrong.

By Slade Gorton | January 5, 2009; 10:59 AM ET | Comments (9)

Disclosure -- Or Legal Advice

If you have nothing to hide, disclose everything right away. If you do, find a good lawyer.

By Slade Gorton | December 16, 2008; 08:37 PM ET | Comments (0)

Reach Out to Rivals

They could have asked foreign competitors with U.S. assembly plants to support their plea on the ground that a vital domestic industry strengthens everyone.

By Slade Gorton | December 8, 2008; 11:04 AM ET | Comments (1)

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