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Robert Trigaux

Do CEOs make good political leaders? We're about to find out in Florida



scottsinkduobaynews9.jpgWake up and good morning... and be sure to vote today. Just a short reminder here before I'm off to cast my vote. An interesting Los Angeles Times column by Michael Hiltzik offers us Floridians a "careful what you wish for" commentary with this headline:

Why big-time CEOs make terrible politicians.

Now, of course, the LA Times is focusing its attention on California's own heavyweight CEOs, former eBay chief Meg Whitman is running for governor and ex-HP CEO Carly Fiorina seeks to become a U.S. senator. But the column's intent is broader and raises a few points in our own Florida governor's race between Alex Sink (a former bank president in Florida) and Rick Scott (an ex-CEO of a major hospital chain): A few key points from the column:

1. "Many qualities that make a good CEO are necessary, but not sufficient, to make a good politician, in the same sense that a concert violinist and a neurosurgeon need supple fingers — but that doesn't mean you'd want a violinist to perform your surgery."

2. The last business executive to reach the White House without serving in elected office was Herbert Hoover. Writes Hiltzik: "Eighty years ago, after Hoover's first year in office, the pundit Walter Lippmann observed that Hoover was a living disproof of the assumption that managerial skills in business were easily transferred to 'the hurly-burly of conflicting wills which are the living tissue of popular government.' Hoover showed himself incapable of jousting on that level. Instead, Lippmann wrote, he was 'paralyzed by his own inexperience in the very special business of democracy.'"

3. Those candidates who bleat loudest about uncovering "waste, fraud and abuse" are often the rankest novices at governing, Hiltzik writes. "That includes Arnold Schwarzenegger, with his stillborn 'blow up the boxes' campaign to reorganize state government, and Whitman, who has pledged to fire 40,000 state employees. Since California currently has the fourth-lowest ratio of state employees to population in the country, that sounds like a formula for less efficiency rather than more."

A little food for thought as we all, hopefully, get out and vote. Here's the LA Times column.

Photo: courtesy of Bay News 9.

-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist

[Last modified: Tuesday, November 2, 2010 7:15am]


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