Sunday, October 24, 2010

Obama's leadership skills

Obama is taking a great deal of heat right now.  It is unlikely that the Democrats will do well in the midterm elections because the economy in the U.S. remains in bad shape.  Brendan Nyhan has argued persuasively that it is this structural factor that is the key determinant of the off year election. One should remember that Obama continues to have good leadership skills as he faces mounting criticism the result of current political circumstances. I certainly remember thinking Reagan was politically finished after the 1982 off-year elections.

A couple of weeks ago Fareed Zakaria interviewed Steven Rattner, the Wall Street executive who headed up the Auto Bailout and has just written a book about it.  Zakaria started off by asking him what he thought of Obama as a CEO.  From the show transcript:
ZAKARIA: What do you think of President Obama as a CEO? You -- you spent a lot of time in the private sector. Was he a good CEO?

RATTNER: I thought he was a terrific CEO. It was interesting, because people said, well, what does he know about being a CEO? He's never managed anything besides a Senate staff. Of course, he did run a campaign pretty well.

But the fact was he was a natural. I thought he was a natural.

I have been around, as you say, a lot of CEOs over the years. But he was -- he didn't dwell on things. He was willing to make decisions, but he didn't sort of rush through and say, well, I've got 10 minutes to make this decision. I'm going to make it.

There was one famous day when he adjourned a meeting until later in the day so he could have more time to reflect on the question whether to save Chrysler, which is one of our toughest -- probably our toughest decision -- his toughest decision.

And I thought he was thoughtful. He did his homework. He came to the meetings having read his briefing papers. I can't imagine when he started running for president he thought dealing with Chrysler was going to be something he was going to have to do, but he -- he was a good soldier and he -- he dug into it.

And so, no. I came away with a lot of respect for his CEO qualities. 
The rest of the transcript is here (you have to scroll down).