Review: The Keys to a Successful Presidency

4 Star, Executive (Partisan Failure, Reform), Leadership

PresidencyPublished in 2000, Essential Reference but Outdated and Incomplete, February 13, 2008

Alvin Felzenberg

I am spending most of my time, in the course of publishing three edited works and my own on “War & Peace: Seventh Generation Intelligence,” thinking about how to radically redirect the organization of both the Presidency and Congressional jurisdictions. I consider David Abshire to be one of the top thinkers on this subject.

The book covers, in fast easy to read fashion:

1) Achieving a Successful Transition

2) Running the White House

3) Staffing a New Administration

4) Turning the President's Agenda into Administration Policy

5) Enacting a National Security Agenda

6) Working with Congress to Enact an Agenda

7) Managing the Largest Corporation in the World

8) Building Public Support for the President's Agenda

Each of the above chapters has between three and five sub-chapters, none long, all drawing on substantive past performers.

Now here is what is NOT in this book:

1) How to achieve a deep understanding of a complex world in which nation-states are devolving and new assemblages including social business, social entrepreneurship, and bottom-up citizen social networks are self-governing, creating wealth, and policing corporations. In other words, there is not INTELLIGENCE chapter in this book. (search for <New Rules of the New Craft of Intelligence Chapter 15> for a free answer.

2) Chapter 4 neglects to discuss the role of the Office of Management and Budget, which dropped the Management part of its role sometime back in the 1970's as best I can tell. Since the Comptroller General has declared the US insolvent as of 2007, and the Bush-Cheney regime has put the country into a 9 trillion debt and a 40 trillion future unobligated deficiency, this should be the most important part of the next President's staff, and it better have someone at the top that understands the ten threats, twelve policies, and eight challengers, and the spine to redirect money from secret satellites to open education; from a heavy metal military to waging peace; and from corporate subsidies to infrastructure and other homefront priorities. I recommend Colin Gray's book (or see my review), Modern Strategy and Tony Zinni's latest book, The Battle for Peace: A Frontline Vision of America's Power and Purpose. Free online are my Army War College presentations and chapters on “Presidential Leadership” and “An Alternative Paradigm for National Security.”

3) The national security chapter is very disappointing. I will just list a handful of books that must be already in the mind of the National Security Advisor before Inauguration:

The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence, and the Will of the People

The Search for Security: A U.S. Grand Strategy for the Twenty-First Century

The Paradox of American Power: Why the World's Only Superpower Can't Go It Alone

The leadership of civilization building: Administrative and civilization theory, symbolic dialogue, and citizen skills for the 21st century

How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas, Updated Edition

The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom

There are so many other books that could be usefully distilled for a new president. Only Mike Huckabee and Barack Obama, in my personal judgement, have minds open enough, and willing to consider that national security is, as Thomas Jefferson taught us, to be found in an educated citizenry. We need a transpartisan sunshine cabinet NOW, one that can propose a balanced national budget by 4 July 2008, and from there, We the People can have a national conversation about restoring America the Beautiful

I will, on the basis of all I have read, put this bluntly: McCain and Clinton are the last vestiges of the industrial-era spoils system that makes decisions in backrooms, by, of, and for the elite. The only way this country is going to resurrect itself is if we get a President who knows how to harness the collective intelligence of We the People, how to uncomplicate and sharply reduce the federal government, and how to create a national strategy that eradicates the ten threats within ten years (including an end to all dictators and our support for them( by harmonizing the twelve policies. This is not rocket science. All it requires is the framework, integrity, an open mind, and an ability to listen. We do NOT need a “war leader.” We need an Epoch B Swarm Leader.

None of that is in this book. What is in the book is first class. What is not in the book is fatally absent.

Two DVDs just for grins:
Why We Fight
The Fog of War: Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara

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