9 August 2003

The CEO-in-chief

The similarities between Bush and his business contemporaries could always be seen in his reflexive first-to-take-credit, last-to-take-responsibility ethic, common in today's crooked crony capitalism. He was the first to take credit for passing a giant tax cut for the wealthy, but refuses to take responsibility for the fact that it provided little relief for the average American and created huge deficits. He was first to take credit for bombing the Taliban after September 11th, yet refuses to take any responsibility for the security failures that allowed September 11th to happen. He was the first to take credit for supposedly winning the war in Iraq, yet now he's refusing to take any responsibility for the poor planning that could lose the peace.

But if faulty salesmanship on these issue is run-of-the-mill, Bush's recent conduct on the Iraq-nuclear issue shows us the real downside of having a pass-the-buck CEO in the White House. When his claim that Iraq had nuclear weapons was debunked by almost every credible source on the planet, Bush deployed a 3-step defense that could have come right out of Ken Lay's playbook:

  • Step 1: Deny That There Is Even a Problem

  • Step 2: "I Didn't Get the Memo"

  • Step 3: Get Angry

Sound familiar to anyone? No-one told our own man of steel, Prime Minister John Howard, about the children in the water. Who weren't. Or the Nigerien uranium that did not exist. Or the aluminium tubes that also did not exist. It must be terrible being a CEO Prime Minister, so many memos, so little time.

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