Monday, March 15, 2004

Weintraub on Leadership

Daniel Weintraub: Governor's views on how to lead may ensnare him

The governor's fealty to the voters is admirable. But it also raises questions about his leadership style, and where he draws the line. A true leader takes account of the public's view and then does what he thinks is right, even if it's not popular. If Schwarzenegger is going to take his cues from public opinion, does that mean he has no core beliefs of his own, or that he will never pursue them if they aren't shared by a majority of his fellow Californians?

That, in fact, was the biggest problem with Schwarzenegger's predecessor, Gray Davis. Until just before last year's recall election, Davis almost never did anything that was not supported by a large majority of the people. But on the two biggest problems he faced - the energy crisis and the fiscal meltdown - this method froze him into inaction, because the only plausible moves were highly unpopular.

Davis rarely talked of following the polls, apparently seeing such an admission as a political liability. But Schwarzenegger revels in it.

This is an interesting column on the Gov's leadership style and methods. But I think he ends up giving him credit at the end that I didn't see coming at the beginning. Plus, I think one point that Weintraub brings up but doesn't emphasize is Schwarzenegger's enviable ability to poll public opinion and then sway it to his advantage. He's a MOVIE STAR for pete's sake. Judging by the way visitors to the Capitol fall over themselves like idiots to stand in front of His door for a photo - well - this is one lucky leader.

He can say he feels one way, but, however the voters feel is fine with him. He can then, depending on the situation, allow the will of the people to save him from the hard decisions, or have another half-million dollar/person dinner and toss some commercials on TV to change the will of the people his way. Not bad at all.

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