Big businessman outraged by Bush
Where Have All the Leaders Gone?
The author, 82, is the former CEO of Chrysler Motors. We excerpt from his latest book, written with Catherine Whitney. While we focus on his words for Bush, he lambasts the “do-nothings” in Congress, too.
By Lee IacoccaWhere the hell is our outrage? We've got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff, we've got corporate gangsters stealing us blind, and we can't even clean up after a hurricane much less build a hybrid car. Politicians say, "Stay the course."
Stay the course? You've got to be kidding. This is America, not the damned Titanic. Throw the bums out!
I hardly recognize this country anymore. The President of the United States is given a free pass to ignore the Constitution, tap our phones, and lead us to war on a pack of lies. Congress responds to record deficits by passing a huge tax cut for the wealthy (thanks, but I don't need it). The most famous business leaders are the guys in handcuffs. And the press is waving pom-poms instead of asking hard questions.
Some of us are sick and tired of people who call free speech treason. Where I come from that's a dictatorship, not a democracy.
Where are the voices of leaders who can inspire us to action and make us stand taller? Here's my C list of what a leader must have. Look at how the current administration stacks up.
CURIOSITY. Read voraciously, because the world is a complicated place. George Bush brags about never reading a newspaper. And he's the President of the United States. As long as he gets his daily hour in the gym, with Fox News piped through the sound system, he's good to go.
CREATIVE. Be willing to try something different. Bush prides himself on never changing, even as the world around him is spinning out of control. There's a disturbingly messianic fervor to his certainty.
COMMUNICATE. Face reality and tell the truth. The current administration tries to convince us that things are not really as bad as they seem. I don't know if it's denial or dishonesty.
CHARACTER. Know the difference between right and wrong and have the guts to do the right thing. Abraham Lincoln said, "If you want to test a man's character, give him power." Bush has a lot of power. He shows little regard for the grievous consequences of his decisions.
COURAGE. Take a position even when you know it will cost you votes. Bush can't make a public appearance unless the audience has been handpicked and sanitized. He comes from a blue-blooded Connecticut family but talks like a cowboy.
CONVICTION. You really want to get something done. Bush has set the all-time record for number of vacation days taken by a US President -- four hundred and counting. He said the high point of his presidency was catching a seven-and-a-half-pound perch in his stocked lake.
CHARISMA makes people want to follow you. Maybe George is a great guy at a barbecue. But those frat-boy pranks and the kidding around he enjoys so much don't go over that well with world leaders.
COMPETENT. Bush brags about being our first MBA President. Thanks to him, we've got the largest deficit in history, Social Security is on life support, and we've run up a half-a-trillion-dollar price tag (so far) in Iraq. A leader has to be a problem solver.
COMMON SENSE. What George Bush has instead is sound bites: they'll-welcome-us-as-liberators-no-child-left-behind-heck-of-a-job-Brownie-mission-accomplished. Our President should visit the real world once in a while.
CRISIS is when leadership is forged. On September 11, George Bush was reading a story to kids in Florida when he heard about the attacks. He kept sitting there for twenty minutes with a baffled look on his face. That was his moment of truth and he was paralyzed. Then he decided it wasn't safe to return to the White House. He went into hiding for the day -- and told Dick Cheney to stay in his bunker. It took Bush a couple of days to get his bearings and devise a photo op at Ground Zero. Then he led us down the road to Iraq.
These are times that cry out for leadership.
Who has a better idea for homeland security than making us take off our shoes in airports and throw away our shampoo?
Who can articulate a plan for paying down the debt, or solving the energy crisis, or managing the health care problem? The silence is deafening. What is everybody so afraid of? That some bobblehead on Fox News will call them a name? Give me a break. Why don't politicians show some spine for a change?
You can't call yourself a patriot if you're not outraged. This is a fight I'm ready and willing to have. It's not too late, but it's getting pretty close. We all have a role to play. Let's tell 'em all we've had enough.
Are Americans Unready to Boil?
Habeas That Corpus
Why Do They Bother?
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