Is the Presidency a Standardized Test?

I was watching some of the Sunday morning news shows.  They all want to talk about Donald Trump’s interview with Hugh Hewitt.  Trump didn’t know the exact names of the leaders of the varied terror organizations that hate America and want it destroyed.

Carly Fiorina was interviewed on CBS and she correctly observed that we have known about the Syrian situation for the last three years and have done nothing to avert the crisis.  The Obama administration and Clinton department of State sat on their hands.  But, I bet they could regurgitate all kinds of facts and figures, names and positions of certain people in the Middle East.  People ought to be listening closely to Ms. Fiorina.  She is sharp.

I saw an interview with former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.  He said that those minute details don’t matter right now.  According to Gallup, 75% of people in the US don’t think government works.  It’s too bureaucratic and not out for the best interest of the people it governs.

The fact is, people from the private sector that enter the race for political office only care about winning.  “Do you want to win?”  My friend Andy Swan talks a lot about the #winzone.  The Republican establishment doesn’t understand the cut throat private industry relationship with winning.  It’s win or die.  It’s not about managing and compromise.  That’s why Republicans are so unhappy with Speaker Boehner and Senate Majority Leader McConnell.  Both have to go in the next Congress.  Republicans need winners that get things done.

If we look at candidates for the Republican nomination that have been in politics for a long time, only one has gotten anything big done.  Scott Walker took on unions in Wisconsin and won.  He was about winning.  Everyone else did things in baby steps.  Sorry, but the country can’t afford baby steps with most things these days.  The international world is spinning at too fast a pace.  This is where a concept like The Risky Hire might be good to revisit and contemplate.

In the private sector, Fiorina and Trump both have won.  They also have lost.  Unlike what the press wants everyone to believe, they couldn’t control their outcomes. The reason they resonate with the American public right now is their principles.  Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again” hits home in a very emotional way to most of the public.

The credentialed class loves memorization.  They love going to the right school.  It insulates them and gives them an excuse for failure.  I not only see it in politics, but often times I see it in private industry too.  This person went to this school or that school.  They worked for that firm or this firm.  Somehow it makes them qualified even if they can’t do the work.   There is comfort in following the herd-but remember the herd gets slaughtered all at the same time.  The people that have tremendous success are generally apart from the herd and outliers.  They also fail.

People can study and prep for a standardized test.  It doesn’t really change much from year to year.  You can memorize many aspects of the test, but that doesn’t really tell you much about anything.  At University of Chicago they have a satirical phrase that is “It works in practice, but does it work in theory.”  The world is in constant motion and requires people that can critically think.  It requires that you know their actual operating principles, not if they crammed for the quiz.  It’s about executing.  It’s about getting things done, not just looking busy and talking a lot. Theories and wrote memorization aren’t an indicator of how you will operate on the fly.  It just shows you can prepare for a stock standard question.