November 7, 2008

[Book Review]: Where have All the Leaders gone? (other than Obama of course)

After reading Lee Iacocca’s new book Where have All the Leaders gone? and watching Obama win, I feel pretty fired up!! Up until now, we have experienced exceptionally bad leadership in this country. In “Where have all the Leaders Gone?”, Lee Iacocca the business mogul who has worked in the auto industry for 45 years and the man who brought the Chrysler Corporation back from the ashes in the 1980’s, has a lot to say about the mess we are in right now as a country and what to do about it.

He writes:

“I have news for the gang in Congress. We didn’t elect you to sit on your asses and do nothing and remain silent while our democracy is being hijacked and our greatness is being replaced with mediocrity. What is everybody so afraid of? That some bonehead on Fox News will call them a name? Give me a break. Why don’t you guys show some spine for a change?”

“Am I the only guy in this country who’s fed up with what’s happening? Where the hell is our outrage? We should be screaming bloody murder. We’ve got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff, we’ve got corporate gangsters stealing us blind, and we can’t even clean up after hurricane much less build a hybrid car. But instead of getting mad, everyone sits around and nods their heads when the politicians say, ‘Stay the course’”

“Stay the course? You’ve got to be kidding. This is America , not the damned ‘Titanic’. I’ll give you a sound bite: ‘Throw all the bums out!’

“You might think I’m getting senile, that I’ve gone off my rocker, and maybe I have. But someone has to speak up. I hardly recognize this country anymore.

“The most famous business leaders are not the innovators but the guys in handcuffs. While we’re fiddling in Iraq , the Middle East is burning and nobody seems to know what to do. And the press is waving ‘pom-poms’ instead of asking hard questions. That’s not the promise of the ‘ America ‘ my parents and yours traveled across the ocean for. I’ve had enough. How about you?”

“Name me a leader who has a better idea for homeland security than making us take off our shoes in airports and throw away our shampoo? We’ve spent billions of dollars building a huge new bureaucracy, and all we know how to do is react to things that have already happened.”

“Name me one leader who emerged from the crisis of Hurricane Katrina. Congress has yet to spend a single day evaluating the response to the hurricane, or demanding accountability for the decisions that were made in the crucial hours after the storm. Everyone’s hunkering down, fingers crossed, hoping it doesn’t happen again. Now, that’s just crazy. Storms happen. Deal with it. Make a plan. Figure out what you’re going to do the next time.”

“Name me a government leader who can articulate a plan for paying down the debt, or solving the energy crisis, or managing the health care problem. The silence is deafening. But these are the crises that are eating away at our country and milking the middle class dry.”

These are but a few of comments by Iacocca who at 82 has yet to retire. He asks a lot of important questions about our Democracy and what we can do. He provides sound leadership advice, but the basic message is summarized in his second to last chapter, “Get off the golf course and DO something.”

Other than Barak Obama and his army of volunteers, who is really stepping up and modeling sound leadership? Whatever camp you’re in, Tuesday night Barak Obama reminded us that we can move beyond the “my way or the highway” mentality and work together on the critical issues at hand. But if we sit idly by and hope Obama is going to deliver, we are setting everyone up for failure. We must get involved.

Put in his own words, Iacocca says, “If I’ve learned one thing, it’s this:  You don’t get anywhere by standing on the sidelines waiting for somebody else to take action. Whether it’s building a better car or building a better future for our children, we all have a role to play. That’s the challenge I’m raising in this book. It’s a call to ‘Action’ for people who, like me, believe in America. It’s not too late, but it’s getting pretty close. So let’s shake off the crap and go to work. Let’s tell ’em all we’ve had enough.”

On that note, let’s get to work!

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Jayson Gaddis  |  Contribution: 16,430