Brown in Washington: A remarkable speech

March 4, 2009

gordon-brown-wikipedia
Prime Minister Gordon Brown addressed America in Washington in a speech urging American leadership towards global actions on economic and environmental fronts. He risked opposition at home to find persuasive words for his congressional audience

In its start, Prime Minister Brown avoided nuance. He expressed without equivocation a unity of purpose between two countries. This is the notion of a special relationship between Great Britain and the United States. Later he was to speak of a wider unity of values purpose between two continents, USA and Europe, ‘the most pro-American Europe in living memory …There is no old Europe, no new Europe, there is only your friend Europe.

A remarkable show of unity of values

One way in which the speech was remarkable was the manner in which it expressed shared values. This point was not weakened by qualifications, or acknowledgement of any possible sources of dispute. The admiration expressed omitted any reference to the revolution through which America escaped from its condition as a colony under British rule. The willingness to work for a global solution to the financial crisis avoided a hint of Mr Brown’s often expressed view at home of its origins in the United States. His called for an American lead for dealing with the grave dangers to the environment. He glossed over frustrations of what has been seen as the tardiness of recent American policy which at times appeared as a form of climate renewal to many in Europe.

A remarkable avoidance of political radicalism

In honouring the great leaders in America’s past, Mr Brown took care to balance references to democrats and republicans alike, citing Ronald Reagan several times as a kind of counterweight to his admiration of FDR and JFK. He even managed a similar strategy for acknowledging the positive contributions of the currently less-well appreciated George Bush. For this rhetoric to work, Prime Minister Brown had to avoid mention of a few inconvenient issues such as quaint acceptance in Europe in general, and in the United Kingdom in particular of a political philosophy that might frighten his hosts if mentioned in terms of its association with socialism and liberalism.

When courage and caution meet

The speech will have angered those who will have considered it a supine acceptance of America as superpower and leader of the free world and champion of democratic values.

A case can be made for this judgment of the speech. This view would also present Gordon Brown as a timid and cautious figure.

It is not so easy to build up the opposing case for Brown the self-appointed global hero. But it might just be possible to argue that it was a speech which combined caution with a stubborn kind of courage.

Brown would have been under no illusion that his words would infuriate a constituency back home. He will have considered this a necessary price to pay for making the points he really wanted to make. These required him to find words to nudge American opinion more towards avoiding strategies of protectionism and espousing more urgent strategic actions on a scale necessary to make a difference to the environmental challenges ahead.

There are no simple judgements to be made here.


Obama, vision and reality

November 25, 2008

barack-obama

In fairy tales there is often a point at which a spell is broken. Cinderella has to leave the ball. Like many others, I was caught up in the new fairy story of Barack Obama. Now I am receiving those signals warning that the every fantasy coach has the potential of turning back into a pumpkin

Update:

The original post was written in November 2008 as a counter-balance to the enormously high expectations set upon the newly elected President. It is now possible to take the wider picture and examine the post in light of the President’s first hundred days in power.

After the honeymoon, the complexities of his role and the tasks facing his administration quickly became clear in foreign and domestic fronts.

Original post follows

It helps bring some balance to the perspective of Mr Obama as an outstanding political figure, a breathtaking orator, if we also recognise him as a human being, facing the dilemmas which confront every leader.

Rahn Emanuel

Rahm Emanuel was written up as The Attack Dog

Described by those who know him as variously an attack dog, warrior, political gangster – the appointment of Rahm Emanuel as Barack Obama’s chief of staff has sent a shiver of unease through Republicans hoping for a new spirit of conciliation under the newly-elected president.

Then there was Timothy Geithner

More consistent with Obama’s inclusive style was the appointment of
Timothy Geithner as Treasury Secretary, a move largely acclaimed.

Now there’s Hilary.

The media were writing headlines well in advance of the appointment of Hilary Clinton as Secretary of State

The combative, feisty, Hilary who nearly nailed Obama in the democratic run-offs. The Hilary with both helps and hindrances gifted by husband Bill to her career prospects. In fantasy land, Hilary was the wicked witch to be defeated and cast into outer darkness. Banished from the kingdom, as rewards go to those who fought the good fight. But now she seems to be rewarded despite her campaign. Come to think of it, husband Bill lost his cool at one point in the campaign warning the electorate that Barack Obama was creating a fantasy world.

What’s going on?

Harvard Business Review, (admittedly synopticised by Business Week) spots the implication of the decision to appoint such a confrontational figure as Emanuel. They took the view that every leader with inclinations towards a generosity of spirit should have an attack dog to do the dirty work. The following misses one additional factor, that of total loyalty to the leader.

Obama radiates a cool, steady calmness. Watching him from afar, you cannot imagine him coming down hard on people to get things done; this is not his style and he knows it. That’s why he chose as his chief of staff a man who loves to “win.” Brash, bold and abrasive, Rahm Emanuel, a former Clinton White House aide, is opposite of Obama’s cool; he’s fire and passion backed with relentless drive. For someone of Obama’s temperament, Emanuel is an ideal chief of staff, a job that H.R. Haldeman, President Nixon’s chief of staff, viewed as being the “president’s S.O.B.” Emanuel’s selection demonstrates how leaders need to surround themselves with people who complement them, not replicate them.

How to make sense of all this?

These issues may be uncomfortable for the millions who bought into the oratory of Obama, with its messages of hope and change. But now, perhaps, we have to be prepared to let go of some of the fantasy. America has elected a President who does bring hope for change a remarkable set of unrivalled leadership skills. But the charisma must not blind us from the otherwise obvious: that he is a human being, nevertheless who will wrestle with the realities of political power in a democratic society, and with the dilemmas of leadership.

There are strong indictions that charismatic power may well have helped Obama’s rise to office, but that the realities of leadership require explaining in other ways such as a distribution of roles (distributed leadership), including some good ol’ fashioned situational leadership opportunities, and more than a touch of accomodation. I’m inclined to see the appointment of Hilary Clinton as an indicator of creative leadership, and a willingness to find imaginative approaches which turn ‘threats into opportunities’

For students of leadership:

Students of leadership may be interested in an examination of how Barack Obama’s oratory works its magic.


Medvedev’s Power Play: A Historical Analysis

November 16, 2008
Dmitri Medvedev

Dmitri Medvedev

On the day Barack Obama won his historic election victory in America, President Medvedev offered two ideas in his State of the Nation address. One was the possibility of redeployment of missiles. The other was a reform which would lead to a President having two six year terms in office. The West, perhaps naturally, seemed more concerned with the former issue. We concentrate here on the proposed constitutional one

The Australian historical scholar Jeff Schubert is now domiciled in Russia, and brings to bear his expertise on the current political situation. He discussed the constitutional change with Leaders we deserve

Psychologically, Medvedev may now be where George W Bush was after the terrorist attaks of September 11, 2001, he argues. Some of Bush’s fears about what might happen next were justified, but his responses, included the military action against Iraq were thoroughly misguided. Schubert considers that some of Medvedev’s fears may be similarly justified, including in his view the activities of the US military so close to Russia’s borders, the deleterious effect of corruption, and the unruly state of some of Russia’s regions.

However, he also argues that Medvedev is looking at the wrong solution in proposing that it be possible for one man to remain at the peak of Russian power for 12 years. It will almost certainly have the consequences of extended periods in power for which there are historical precedents. The thinking processes of the person in power become distorted over time, as do the thinking processes of those around him (or her). Albert Speer, Adolf Hitler’s ‘friend’, architect, Armaments Minister, and for a while the second most powerful man in Nazi Germany, summed it up nicely:

“There is a special trap for every holder of power, whether the director of a company, the head of a state, or the ruler of a dictatorship. His favour is so desirable to his subordinates that they will sue for it by every means possible. Servility becomes endemic among his entourage, who compete among themselves in their show of devotion. This in turn exercises a sway upon the ruler, who becomes corrupted in his turn.”

Louis de Bourreinne, who was Napoleon Bonaparte’s first secretary, called this “corruption” of the thinking processes “a sort of cerebral congestion”.

Even in the US, with its traditions and governmental structure, 12 years for a president would be a negative. Twelve years for a president would also mean 12 years for many other officials who themselves are less important “holders of power”.

Russia’s traditions, political structures – such as the limits on political parties and appointed regional governors – and the perverted distribution of wealth, make 12 years potentially very dangerous.

Speer also wrote that “the key to the quality of the man in power is how he reacts to this situation.”

But can a historical example be expected to fit present day circumstances? Schubert agrees that not all people react in exactly the same way. He contrasted Kemal Ataturk, was much more restrained in his use of power, with Josef Stalin. Even so, he says, Ataturk’s regime had many psychological characteristics that were similar to Stalin’s. Ultimately there was only one source of power, and this was the man at the top.

Notwithstanding the law,. In 1937 President Ataturk sacked Ismet Inonu as prime minister and replaced him with Celal Bayer. Legally, the Ataurk was entitled to appoint the prime minister, but as president he had few direct executive responsibilities. Nevertheless, when someone commended that Bayer has skillfully handled an issue, Ataturk retorted: “The government is in my hands, my hands.”

Turning to today’s Russia he observes that Medvedev ‘likes to speak of the need to strengthen the rule of law, and that ‘he is no-doubt sincere.

…It’s just that Ataturk was in power for so long that his basically authoritarian psychology and the changing needs of the country were moving in opposite directions, and he became a negative rather than positive factor in the country’s development. The legal system, that he played such a dominant role in forming, remained his well-intentioned toy, to be prevented from spinning when he wished.”

He believes that Medvedev is relatively liberal in his outlook, but that his thinking would be “corrupted” by 10 years in power (assuming his present term of 4 years was to be followed by another of 6 years).

The much discussed return to power of Vladimir Putin would become predictably less restrained if he were to return to the presidency. Eight years as president, 4 years as the major power behind his successor, plus a further 12 years as president would bring the total to 24 years. He could be president until 2024 when he would be 72 years of age.

Schubert also notes historical issues of the aging leader, although could have been talking of a contemporary case such as that of Robert Mugabe:

Count Ciano, noted in his diary in 1941 (when Mussolini was 57) that the aging dictatorial CEO can be somewhat sensitive about age: “The Duce (Mussolini) is exasperated by the publication in the magazine Minerva, published in Turin, of a motto by some Greek philosopher or other.” The motto read:

“No greater misfortune can befall a country than to be governed by an OLD tyrant.”

‘Old tyrant’ is not only about age, Schubert points out.

It is about a declining ability to match the desire to hold power with the desire to work, listen and to be engaged ..While Ataturk believed that government was in his “hands”, he was also quite disengaged from those whom he governed. One of his admirers, Falih Rifki Atay remarked: “Ataturk! Before you became President you were always in touch with the people. For years now, it is only us at your dinner table who listen to you. The people haven’t heard your voice. You only read the government’s report at the Assembly openings. This is your only communication.

The results of being too long in power were also summed up by Chen Yuan, an early colleague of Mao Zedong, who said:

“Had Mao died in 1956, his achievements would have been immortal. Had he died in 1966, he would still have been a great man. But he died in 1976. Alas, what can one say?”

Schubert considers that Medvedev runs the risk of allowing similar words to be relevant to Russia’s future.

Is this historical analysis sufficiently tightly argued to apply to today’s political situation? Is there something intrinsically worse over a six or seven year rather than a four year cycle of office? As a French Colleague pointed out, Francois Mitterand was in power for two “septenats” (seven years in office) in the 80-90s, and the arrangement was accompanied by corruption, scandals, and the arrangement was subsequently dropped. On the other hand, the famous case of Margaret Thatcher suggests that it was the second term in office which produced a deterioration of her famed sense of purpose and strategic grip on power. Here it was the double term, (and perhaps from Schubert’s analysis, the aging effect, that was at work, rather than the length of the term.

Alternative capitalisms

Another contextual point is that business schools are having to rethink the entire notion of capitalism to address the problems of the 21st century. There is talk of alternative capitalisms, as suggested Professor Richard Whitley on Manchester Business School. The system built around the family firm in Korea and the other Asian economic little tigers has received attention in the 1980s. Now it is the systems emerging in China and India. We may be forced into a more differentiated view of capitalism. In which case the Russian case may have even more surprises ahead for economic as well as for political commentators.


Brown v Salmond was the undercard to the Obama McCain fight

November 11, 2008

don-king-wikimedia

As Obama cruised to his historic victory last week, little attention was paid internationally to the fight between Alex Salmond and Gordon Brown in the Glenrothes by-election in Scotland. The pre-match posturing suggested Alex was supremely confident. But the voters marked their cards rather differently

To be precise, Alex Salmond and Gordon Brown were the fight promoters. Lindsay Roy (the eventual victor) and Peter Grant of the Scottish Nationalists were not exactly billed as crowd-pleasing performers.

That was partly why I began to think of Alex Salmond as a fight promoter such as the legendary Don King. He has this way of dominating a press conference with his creative imagery. And sometimes happened with Don King, Alex Salmond was also grabbing more headlines than his fighter. When the bout was lost, it was Alex Salmond who retained the headlines. The vaunted clunking fist of Gordon Brown had done some damage. And Alex Salmond didn’t just hit the headlines, he hit the canvas.

The BBC reported it as follows:

The by-election was a result of death of Labour MP John MacDougall. He had held a majority of over 10,000 votes in 2005, but Labour’s decline and the upsurge of support in Scotland for Salmond’s nationalists have put them favourites. Prime Minister Gordon Brown, MP for the neighbouring constituency of Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, had departed from the tradition of a PM staying away from such by-elections. Mr Salmond said it was “clear” the SNP could win the by-election.
“Just as Americans voted for hope over fear, people in Glenrothes can choose between the positive record of the SNP and the negativity and scaremongering of Labour”

Polls seemed to back up this claim until a few hours of the polling booths closing. The seriousness of another defeat for Brown was the main topic of the closing days of the campaign.

What happened next?

Within hours of polling ending, rather like the Obama battle, the grapevine was indicating a clear victor. But it wasn’t the ante-Post favorite.

The BBC again:

Lindsay Roy [Labour] was elected the new MP with a majority of 6,737 over the SNP’s Peter Grant …BBC Scotland political correspondent Brian Taylor said: “Labour attacked the Nationalists day and daily over claims that the SNP-led administration in Fife Council had cut home care services for the most vulnerable.
“In vain did the SNP protest that this was driven by externally imposed exigencies, that they were doing nothing different from several other councils (including Labour ones) and that they had increased the budget in key areas of expenditure.”

Down, but is he out?

So we can say Alex even from the ringside ended up on the canvas. But even if it’s been a knockout, is it such a blow as to be the end of the victory which his party is scenting in the longer term? Above the political battle, the vision of the SDP is for a free Scotland away from the shackles of the Union, and with a new poliical relationship between Scotland and England.

In the week of Obama’s triumph, it would be a bold person to predict that such an outcome will never happen. Obama’s was victory for the originally oppressed minority. We might also remember Mandela’s victory in South Africa. But in each of these cases, there was one big difference: the direction of change was towards integration not differentiation.


Obama McCain: Stripping the Noise out of the Polls

October 29, 2008

myspace-polls.com

myspace-polls.com


Poll-watching has been part of the fun of the Presidential campaign. When the noise is stripped out, the statistical reality is not in accord with the stories being spun

Polls are fun. Swings, even those within the ‘corridor of (statistical) uncertainty’ of 2%-3% for a specific poll, have regularly been used to present a news stories.

There have been plenty of stories built on statistical blips. But when the entire set of results are presented together, the dominant undulations are mostly noise. The polls are rather like regular visits to a fortune teller, who tells a story derived from yarrow sticks, tea leaves or Tarot cards.

The BBC has been providing an excellent comparative summary of four polls. These come from four different organizations, each with variations in methodology. I will rely on visual inspection only (which is enough for spotting the broad level of noise and the most significant real effects statistically).

The four polls

The four polls presented in the BBC summaries have been from Gallop, Rasmussen, Washington Post and Ipsos. These were selected from a more extensive compilation of results from the pollster organisation.

The trends revealed from the four BBC polls lead to several conclusions. Across the period of polling any one poll is mostly showing a lot of noise (swings within the corridor of uncertainty of say 2% for one trend line). The blips just even out over periods of several months. You may wish to interpret it as day on day shifts in voting intentions. But the results are also consistent with repeated confirmation of a ‘null hypothesis’ of no significant difference found. This is further confirmed if any claimed swing is not detected uniformly across the polls.

This sort of inspection shows that the polls are prone to ‘false positives’ – results that show a significant swing over some time period, for one poll, but not for the others. It also suggests that among the false positives were blips associated with Hillary Clinton pulling out of the race, Obama declaring himself Democratic candidate, and arguably the recent conventions. THis way you can just about detect a slight and temporary ‘Palin Bounce’ for the McCain campaign followed by the subsequent drift downwards.

Inspection along the time-scale of the polls revealed almost identical poll percentages for Obama and McCain towards the start (Feb 2008) and recently (Sept 2008). The base-line shows round 50% for Obama, 44% for McCain.

There have been two ‘stand-out’ periods in which McCain has been shedding a few percentage points. One has been over the period of the financial crisis of the last month (Sept-Oct 2008). That, unfortunately for McCain, is significant for several reasons. First, the most recent data are always treated as the most newsworthy and important (the well-known immediacy effect in decision theory). Secondly, the election is advancing rapidly, so that the effect is taken even more seriously.

The polls now all say Obama. The averages for the popular vote have stabilized, and are interpreted as a narrow win for Obama.

Looking State by State

Attention has turned to evaluations are based on probabilities of the candidates winning each State. This is a far more sensible way of using statistics, as the victory does not go to the winner of the popular vote, but to the winner of delegates of the Electoral college. The State by State assessment has more sensitivity towards the range of probabilities of each State staying the same as last time, or switching the affiliation of the nominated members of the electoral college.

On these assessments, Obama is more clearly in the lead, and explains why the commentators are writing as if the result is more clear-cut.

One week to go

With less than a week to go, some of the theories have come and gone. McCain’s run-in seems to have been in military terms a courageous scramble. Obama’s a dignified avoidance of appearing too much of a winner, but still appearing a winner.

One day to go

Commentators are talking as if the polls suggest Obama is a near certainty. McCain claims a last-gasp gain in support enough to give his supporters continued hope. There is even more of a narrowing of concentration by reporters around the one issue ‘how will the voters vote’ and a decoupling of opinion from contextual factors. By that I mean that the economic back drop, for example, has hardly had a mention in comparison with the vivid impact of the latest Joe the Pumber encounter. Bewitched, bothered, and bewildered.

All the polls, all the ‘objective’ analysis point to only one winner. So why are so few commentators (including me) refusing to say there is no hope left for John McCain? Maybe Obama’s recent rallying cry to his supporters offers hope for Senator McCain as well:

Obama the university lecturer embarks on a little treatise on what hope actually means – “that thing deep down inside of us that insists, despite all the evidence to the contrary, there are better times ahead of us”. It is a line he has been polishing now for days, if not weeks. And his audiences always get it, and love it.

Acknowledgement

To myspace-polls for the image and their encouragement to turn us all into pollitical pollsters.


Obama McCain Round Three and the Myth of the Mousetrap

October 17, 2008
A better mousetrap?

A better mousetrap?

The third Presidential debate provided little further evidence that might change the minds of American voters. A recent study of the myth of the mousetrap suggests how the candidates might be better able to get their ideas accepted

The candidates have had even more media exposure (if such a thing is possible) because reporting of the twists and turns of the Bush regime in its attempts to deal with the financial crisis of the last few weeks.

For all his charisma, Obama sticks to offering a low-key and generally reassuring style of debate. He did not go for broke with an appeal to the anxieties of voters. That was a relatively easy call for his advisors and Obama. He is, after all is moving ahead rather nicely in the polls.

In contrast, McCain is struggling in the polls. Observers suggest that he has decided that there is no option but to stick to a personalised attack on Obama. Arguably, each candidate had strong reasons to stick to their earlier strategies.

The leadership dilemma

The debates offer a case example of the dilemmas facing a leader. Stick or twist? If in a strong position why change? If in a weak position it would be nice to change in a way that addresses the perceived weaknesses. But how to find that new strategy, and how to put it into action?

The Myth of the Better Mousetrap

It just so happens that a book came in for review shortly before the third presidential debate. Anne Miller in The Myth of the Mousetrap: how to get your ideas adopted (and change the world) writes about the challenge for a creative person to get ideas accepted. The book primarily focuses on technological ideas and acceptance seeking processes. I commend it to technologists and inventors, but I want to locate my remarks around its relevance in the context of the Obama-Bush campaign

The dangers of the ‘he who is not with us’ approach

Miller goes back into history to show how scientific pioneers have to find ways of overcoming a comprehension gap. She quotes one scientist who many years ago (in 1944) observed the tendency of someone committed to a new idea to be over-zealous:

Zealous believers commonly follow the motto ‘He that is not for us is against us’ [and that] it does not help the cause to accuse all its critics of a state of mind that is as unworthy as fascism’.

She comments that the phrase ‘ with us or against us’ has ‘a worrying echo’ of George Bush in building his ‘coalition against evil’ , adding that
‘being combative may make your supporters feel good, but it does nothing to encourage people who are teetering on the edge of being interested in your ideas’. Her proposition is that increasingly, influence derives from efforts to involve people which will also harness their creativity.

If Miller is right, we begin to understand the dilemma facing McCain. It is less of a problem for Obama, who seems to have been more successful in involving and enlisting an army of youthful supporters.

Bush, and not thinking about the elephant

Another illustration comes from the success of the Bush campaign of 2000. Gore did not win the case by pointing out that Bush tax cuts would mainly advantage the top 1% of voters. Miller (p105) cites George Lackoff’s analysis that Bush had succeeded because ‘people do not vote with their economic self-interest, they vote with their identity and their values [such as] ..strong defense or family values’ .

I assume Lackoff’s analysis has been noted by strategists on the left and right alike. In any case, values are being repeatedly signalled by both candidates. Yet, this time around, there is an elephant (or a gorilla) that can’t be ignored. And it’s not too far away from the point made by Clinton. It’s the economy stupid. Which then gets dressed up in value-laden language. Last night, [October 15th 2008] John McCain personalised it with extensive references to Joe the plumber’ (a real person).

But there are further complications. Appeals to injustice or real and present danger have immediate emotional impact, also trigger feelings of guilt, inadequacy and anger. Such manifestations have been a feature of recent McCain events, less so with Obama’s.

Miller refers to a favoured notion of mine about change from the behavioural theorist Ed Schein. He suggests that people’s attitudes are ‘unfrozen’ by triggering acknowledgement of dissatisfaction with the status-quo coupled with vision off a better state and a simple credible action. If I have a concern about Schein’s model it is in its simplistic application in which someone goes around whipping up dissatisfaction, anxieties, and feelings of inadequacy. This holds for someone arguing for a new product idea and for a change of leadership. It is likely to be more effective in the latter case, than in the political arena, where the actions may just trigger anger against a common enemy.

So McCain is toast?

‘Barring the unexpected’, I would say yes. The possible sources of a turn-round seem to be dwindling. The initial boost from the impact of Sarah Palin is fading. Chances to score in the three televised exchanges have come and gone.

But these are exceptional times. If there is a change it will be a radical disruption of all the factors that have been pushing the polls in favour of Obama.

It might just be worth planning for the implications for a Democratic win.

Acknowledgement

To Gilleport for the image of a better mousetrap


Leaders in the news: Winners and losers

October 13, 2008

Howard Schultz Starbucks

Howard Schultz Starbucks


In times of crisis, some leaders step forward, others are deemed to have failed. There have been examples of each, as the global financial crisis enters a new critical stage

Fred the Shred takes the fall

Pressure mounted on Sir Fred Goodwin to resign as chief executive of Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) as the bank seeks to tap the Government’s £500 billion rescue fund. The Government is reluctant to a deal with RBS’s participation unless he relinquishes his role. Although he clung on tenaciously this has been a very bad week for Sir Fred. Another former city hero exits ignominiously.

Sir Fred Goodwin 0

Gordon Brown is no dead cat

The deeper the crisis, the more polls seem to swing towards Prime Minister Gordon Brown. David Cameron and George Osborne grudgingly offer support the government. Are we seeing a ‘dead cat bounce’, or is there life in the political career of Gordon Brown? He appears more relaxed in the last two weeks than he has been since taking over from Tony Blair as Prime Minister.

Brown 1, Cameron 0, Osborne 0

Boris Forces Resignation of Sir Ian Blair in Leadership Battle

The resignation of Sir Ian Blair [October 2nd 2008] develops into a political story. The BBC traced his turbulent career. Boris Johnson, incoming Mayor of London, is proving a hands-on leader willing to act forcefully. Sir Ian, under pressure on operational and personal fronts, was called into a ‘meeting without coffee’ by the Mayor before tending his resignation.

Boris 1 Blair 0

Obama and McCain Round 2

The second televised debate between the two candidates [October 7th 2008, Nashville, Tennessee] is as stage-managed as the first.
A key negative moment was was reported widely as

Jabbing his finger and spitting out “that one” instead of naming Barack Obama, John McCain showed an angry side

Polls suggest that Barack Obama is moving ahead.

Obama 1 McCain 0

Dick Fuld faces the music

Dick Fuld, controversial CEO of Lehmans has had a very bad few weeks. When ‘invited’ to testify before a hostile congressional committee following the crash of his company, he demonstrates his robust leadership style, denying wrong-doing or ethical weakness. He ticks the boxes for the callous Wall Street fat cat. Fuld very much the loser here.

Dick Fuld 0

Darling’s drastic rescue bid of the banks and maybe Gordon Brown

As The Times sees it
Chancellor Alistair Darling [October 8th 2008] launched a drastic rescue of Britain’s high street banks [to avoid] a cataclysmic failure of confidence by announcing a part-nationalisation plan with £50 billion of taxpayers’ money. Alistair Darling, like Gordon Brown has had a better week.

Alistair Darling 1

Starbucks, Schultz and the running taps

Howard Schultz, returned to the chief executive role at Starbucks earlier this year, faced with serious loss of froth in the business. Poor figures and closures continue. This week [October 8th 2008] the ‘running taps’ story threatens to sully the firm’s good environmental reputation.

Starbucks 0, Howard Schultz 0

And in the long run?

Not all these cats are dead. And, as we know, cats have seven lives.


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