Friday, October 3, 2014

Qualified, Sorry

I once had to partner up with sales engineers from another company. We were involved with highly technical products that were used in very complicated systems.The local manager for that company had many Obama-like traits.

When, we will call him John, walked into a room, he immediately knew who the smartest person in that room was. It was, of course, John. That was seldom true, but he was a legend in his own mind.

Part of John's responsibilities was to hire the field engineers that I had to work in partnership with. These engineers that he hired had one universal trait, an underwhelming competence. This habit of hiring in competent people didn't help our sales and made my job much more difficult. I pondered on why he couldn't find better people.

One day the answer came to me. It was because John didn't want better people. For two reasons. The people that he hired would never embarrass him by exhibiting more skill or knowledge in front of customers. Or even worse, in front of the corporate bosses. Secondly, they couldn't threaten his position. He would never discover one of them trying to steal his job.

I think that John is an allegory for our nations capital today. Not for everyone there, but for far too many. I noticed that as President Obama appointed people to his various cabinet positions, czarships, and other leadership posts, the little red line on the smarts-o-meter started falling rapidly. 

Once again, I wondered why. Now I know. Obama doesn't want people around him that make things complicated. Tough problems require complicated solutions. That makes governing difficult. It is more important to have a proper number of women, blacks, Hispanics, gays, and other groups represented in power positions. As long as they weren't radical enough to cause disruption or exert any real authority, all was good.

This attitude filters down through the system. Now governing means to go through the motions. Don't rock the boat. Make sure nothing splashes onto the coattails of the inner circle. Let the top tier lead the way. Even if that way takes the country so far left that there is no more right. America has been too much the leader in the world, so let's lead from behind and let others run the show. Show how humble we are.

So here we are after six years of that thinking. The President says we are doing great. But then when all you see is the view from the ninth tee or from the head table at celebrity fund raisers, the country probably seems to be doing great. The President said he never notices any traffic jams. I guess there are many things he never notices. Including the plight of the American people.

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