Clinton-Biden switcheroo? Not a bad idea
The continuing rumors about the ultimate White House staff shake-up--that Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton might switch jobs--appears to have no weight behind it. Most recently perpetuated by Bob Woodward on CNN last night, pundits ranging from Sally Quinn to Peggy Noonan to Andy Card to Douglas Wilder have pontificated on the idea. Anne Kornblut writes today that the switch is "absolutely not" on the table, according to both David Axelrod and Clinton's supporters.
I have nothing to further the speculation, but I can ask this question: why not? Rotating executives between top jobs happens all the time in business, and is seen as good management and corporate governance. It's a natural way for leaders to challenge themselves, develop their skills and stretch different management muscles for a few years.
Indeed, corporate management headlines are filled with news about executive rotations. IBM recently shuffled the ranks of its top executives, filling out their jobs to help groom a successor for Samuel Palmisano. The same happened at J.P. Morgan in June, when Jamie Dimon switched up the responsibilities of his top lieutenants to give himself and the board time to evaluate the next potential CEO.
And the massive conglomerate General Electric--perhaps the closest corporate analogy (albeit still exponentially less complex) to managing a job with the scope of the presidency--has long made an art of rotating executives between management jobs every couple of years to help them gain a broader perspective of the company's vastness. For instance, John Krenicki, one of three vice chairman at the company, has run everything from the company's energy business to its plastics unit to its transportation company.
Obviously, the president does not engage in succession planning like corporate boards do. Were something to happen to President Obama before his term is up, it's very clear who would step in to succeed him. And whoever follows him would have to be elected by the American people.
But wouldn't we all be better off if our political parties thought more, at least in this sense, like business leaders? It seems like it's in the Democratic party's best interest--and, politics aside, our country's--to let our top national executives get the broadest experience possible while their party is in power. Plus, not only are many driven executives ready for new challenges after four years, but putting fresh minds and new thinking to work on the diplomatic and policy issues the secretary of state and vice president address could reap many rewards.
Let's put aside, for a moment, whether Clinton would help Obama in 2012, and whether or not he could actually even get re-elected, given the mood of the country and his low numbers in the polls. I'd argue that a broader resume for Hillary Clinton, come 2016, would make her not only a stronger candidate but, one would presume, a leader that's more well rounded, more experienced and more exposed to the extraordinary challenges of running the country. And isn't that what all of us, whether Democratic or Republican, want from our potential leaders?
Read more by Jena McGregor:
October 6, 2010; 9:49 AM ET |
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