Excerpt from a letter to a friend

Something I wrote to a friend today:

Like you said, Hilary is a strategist, and it is just so evident.  I agree with you on how the president sets the tone, too, a sort of narrative for the country.  But interestingly enough, yesterday I was listening to NPR and this English man living in America–a professor somewhere, at Harvard?–had a program in which he was talking about why in America we have asked for the president to do two things, and that it’s hard to get those two things in one person.  In England they have the job divided into Prime Minister and Executive Chief.  The Prime Minister is who sets the tone–or how this guy said, tells the story of who England is going to be while he or she’s in office.  That’s the sort of thing it seems you’re talking about as what the president should do, and why Barack is better at that than Hilary.  But he said the Executive Chief is the person who is the managerial type, the organizer and strategist that accompanies and executes the Prime Minister’s story for him or her.  Their right hand person, so to speak.  He said we expect the President of the United States to function as both of these people, and that this is our weakness because it is very difficult to get someone who is able to be both of those things–the storyteller and the manager.  And I thought, wow, he’s so right!  If we had a position for the Executive Chief, I would sooo say, why doesn’t Barack Obama be the president and Hilary the executive chief, because she is soooo much an executive business-y type of  person.  I think she would shine in a position like that, but that she has no story for her people in the storyteller position.  And what America needs right now is a story, because we’ve been lost in a surreal nightmare for the past decade, (or longer, really, but I’ll just say the past decade for now) and need a story to help us become a better people.  Hilary has business plans, strategies and solutions, but she has no story.  Obama has the vision, the story we need so desperately.  I’m sure he has flaws–some of his platforms I don’t agree with, to be honest–but he has the fire we need to wake up again, and remember how to live together.  You can’t get that kind of thing from a business plan.

I then wrote:

I’d post about all this on my blog, but I’m sure it’d just attract cranks, and I’m so sick of cranks these days.

But go ahead:  crank if you want to.

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6 responses

  1. I totally agree. I’ve thought for the longest time what we really need is a president that combines the best parts of Obama, Clinton, and Edwards.

    Failing that, whoever gets the nomination should make darned sure that they are getting all the best talent lined up with them, either as VP or in the cabinet, etc. And Gore for Sec. of Energy for sure. But I’m afraid they’ll all be too pissy with each other to accept supporting or right-hand-man roles to whoever becomes president. I wish we had a Democratic party that was working together rather than on edge and ready to tear itself apart.

  2. I hate to break it to you, but I’ve never heard of an Executive Chief, or even Chief Executive, in the UK government. Recent Prime Ministers have had a Chief of Staff (unelected), but that’s been more or less the same function as the White House post. I guess Harvard Professor Person was confused or misremembering or (most likely) misstating what actually happens. But for the life of me I can’t figure out what UK govt post their statement maps onto.

  3. Yes, but not as good as my preferred system, in which I run everything forever. I’m still waiting for the phone-call from Buckingham Palace; can’t imagine what’s keeping them.

  4. The main difference between the UK and the US is that there the head of state and the head of government are different people (at the moment the Queen and Mr. Brown). Here, the President is, in effect, an elected monarch (many people wanted George Washington to be king not president) and in addition he or she is, defacto, the head of goverment. Each of these systems sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t.

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