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Meeting Rudy's Leadership Test

Reported by Judy - December 14, 2004

As a twice-divorced, pro-choice Republican, Rudy Giuliani as always had a limited future in the GOP. Now, as questions arise about Giuliani's backing of Bernie Kerik as secretary of homeland security, the former New York mayor's political future is looking even less promising.

Still, a review of Giuliani's book Leadership (New York: Hyperion 2002), is worthwhile because of the insights it gives toward Giuliani's real evaluation of George Bush as a leader.

Yesterday, this Newshound reported that Giuliani never recounts his "Thank God George Bush is our President" line which he used in his speech at the GOP convention. In fact, Giuliani barely mentions Bush in the book at all (five times), but Giuliani lays out some pretty clear guidelines for being a good leader. It's an easy thing to see how Bush measures up to them.

1. First Things First--Giuliani says he always had a meeting every morning with all city commissioners to go over issues of the day. "The morning meeting was where the chief execuive was responsible, and could hold everybody else responsible," Giuliani writes (p. 34). Bush hold himself accountable? Not a chance.

2.Prepare Relentlessly -- Giuliani discussed how he organized seminars with experts on urban government before he was elected mayor, how the city practiced for disasters, and how he went over city budget details until he could speak about them without a text. George Bush is not the "prepare relentlessly" type, preferring to leave the details to others and maintain a CEO-management style approach. That's why when he read the briefing material about al Qaeda wanting to strike in the U.S., Bush failed to act. Dealing with such matters were other people's responsibility. Don't see how Giuliani can give Bush a passing grade here.

3. Everyone's Accountable, All of the Time -- Giuliani discussed the computer tracking program his administration set up to help detect trouble spots and allocate police resources to them, as a way of fighting crime and holding his agency administrators responsible. Ultimately, Giuliani said, "I'm responsible." (p. 96) I can't recall Bush taking responsibility for anything. Certainly not 9/11, even though it happened on his watch. He was more concerned about persuading everybody it was not his fault so he could take credit for keeping us safe. Another failing grade here, I'm afraid.

4. Surround Yourself with Great People -- Well, Giuliani doesn't measure up to his own standard here, but the theme is, pick your staff based on their abilities, not on the basis of patronage. Hard to believe that Giuliani really thought Kerik was the best candidate for homeland security director, with all that we have learned about his background. Giuliani's other point on this matter is that the staff is often responsible for a leader's success. "Leaders of all kinds--CEOs, coaches, even the ocasional mayor--run the risk of thinking they are where they are because of divine intervention. ... When selected for a position of leadership, do not believe you were selected by God," he writes (p. 100). Need I say more?

5. Reflect, Then Decide -- Giuliani says he always liked to go to the scene of a disaster or major fire himself, to see the situation so he could formulate a response. That's what he did on 9/11. He said he also tried to take the time necessary to make a good decision, as when he researched all possible treatments for his prostate cancer before deciding. Reflect, then decide. So that's what Bush was doing in that classroom on 9/11. He was scared stiff. He was reflecting. Yeah, that's right. He was reflecting. Giuliani must have been proud of his boy then, even though the mayor didn't even know where Bush was when the country needed him most.

6. Underpromise and Overdeliver -- Giuliani said he liked to keep expectations low so he would look good when results turned out better than expected. Bush certainly has given a lot of people reason to have a low opinion of him. He's got this criterion covered.

7. Develop and Communicate Strong Beliefs -- This twice-divorced and public adulterer points to his Catholic up-bringing as the source for many of his strong beliefs. He also praises Bush for leading the country after 9/11. At the same time, Giuliani advocates flip-flopping (p. 177), noting that changing your mind about an issue is not a sign of weakness but an indication of intellectual honesty. Well, we all know George Bush is not a flip-flopper. As for intellectual honesty, or any other kind, his conflicting statements on his military service speak for themselves.

8. Be Your Own Man -- Giulini mentions his support for gun-control and abortion rights within a party largely opposed to both. No chance Bush will buck his party on either of those.

9. Loyalty, the Vital Virtue -- Giuliani says he has stuck by his employees when they came under fire and they have appreciated it. Kerik is the conspicuous exception. Bush demands loyalty, but doesn't back up all his subordinates in return. Remember Colin Powell?

10. Weddings Discretionary, Funerals Mandatory -- Giuliani made it a point to go to the funerals of firefighters and police officers killed in the line of duty, including many after 9/11. Bush has gone to how many funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq or Afghanistan?

11. Stand Up to Bullies -- Giuliani says that's what he did when he made the UN members pay their parking tickets. Yeah, and Bush stood up to Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. Well, at least he stood up to Saddam.

12. Study, Read, Learn Independently -- Do I really have to explain why Bush flunks this criterion?

The way I grade Bush, he met two of the standards and failed ten. Wouldn't make the first cut in a corporate interview for a CEO. He'll just have to run the world instead.

One final reason why Giuliani should not count Bush among great leaders. Near the end of the book, Giuliani discussed his conversation with Bush Aboard Air Force One when Bush finally got around to visiting Ground Zero. Bush asked what he could do for Giuliani.

"'I told him, 'If you catch this guy, Bin Laden, I would like to be the one to execute him." Giuliani wrote (p. 354). Well Rudy, our great leader no longer thinks bin Laden is worth chasing. Would that be the "over promise, under deliver" standard?

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